Romans 13 (TLB)
- Since all authority comes from God, we must submit to that authority.
- Anyone rebelling against that authority is rebelling against God.
- Would you like to live a fearless life? Then don’t be a rebel.
- Authorities are God’s servant, sent for your good. So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but to have a clear conscience.
- Pay your taxes for the same reasons. Government workers need to be paid, for they are serving God in what they do.
- Don’t owe anyone anything but love.
- The Law code says, “Don’t murder, Don’t commit adultery, Don’t steal, Don’t covet.” And all the ‘Don’ts’ you can think of, can be summed up in this one command of Jesus, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
- Love does no wrong to others and fulfills the requirements of God’s law.
- Time is running out. Our salvation is closer than when you first believed.
- We must live decent lives for all to see. So, step out of the darkness of immoral living, the drunken parties and sexual promiscuity
- Don’t even let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires.
Fulfilling God’s requirements are easy to understand even though they are impossible to do without Him living in us. But it is the first part of this chapter that has been my stumbling block. So, it is that portion on authority that I would dwell on this morning.
Governmental authority, especially, has been my life-long trip hazard. What does Paul mean by statements like, “Obey your rulers, because God has placed them in that place of authority. “Pay your taxes, because Governmental employees need to get paid.”
I have resisted this concept for most of my life, reasoning, “Since the beginning of written history, kingdoms were won and lost by conflict. Even in Paul’s day, virtually the whole world, was won in battle by the Romans. In our day it is no different world wide. In our country there is a struggle every four years to determine which group will run our government, so why would Paul speak such nonsense?”
Even until a few hours ago, my opinion has been, “we get the best government that money can buy, good or bad!” but Paul is trying to tell the Romans that their government was either, set up by God, or allowed by God.
There’s a big difference!
Let’s go back to the beginnings of Israel as a nation. When they first came out of Egypt and God started destroying the wicked people that were inhabiting the land that God had promised to Abraham. They rejoiced at nearly every conflict because God was winning the battles for them. He was their leader. He lived with them in a temple tent and occupied a cloud that protected them, not only from their enemies, but the severe elements of the desert.
Then, as they were getting pretty well established, they complained that they wanted to be like the nations around them. They want a kingly government. Through His prophets God warned them that a king would draft their sons for battle and extract taxes from their farms. Didn’t matter! They wanted a king. Now, come the hard to understand part.
God chose their king and let them crown Saul. God , knowing the end from the beginning, knew that Saul would be a failure, yet He chose the best man… for what purpose?
I now believe Saul was chosen to demonstrate to His people what a human ruler would do to a nation! They were, in effect, telling God that they were dissatisfied with His rule and they wanted to be like everyone else. They wanted to put some human in a place of power over themselves to receive their adulation… worship, if you please.
Saul let it go to his head, as God knew it would. It eventually drove him crazy. But the people persisted in his insanity, and instead of learning their lesson and returning to God, they stumbled ahead.
God raised up a new man, not of Saul’s family, but a man after God’s own heart, David, to be the next king. Was he perfect? Not by any mean’s, but he was a man willing to follow God.
So, does or did, God set up or allow ALL nations whether they profess to know Him or not? I don’t know. But let’s look example, Ancient Egypt. They were in existence long before Abraham began propagating. In fact, when they visited Egypt he almost lost his beautiful young wife to the pharaoh. Whereupon, God used pharaoh to teach Abraham that it isn’t nice to lie about your circumstances. Several generations later, He used this same nation to save His people from starvation. When Jacob died they should have returned to their homeland, but they didn’t. They put prosperity ahead of duty.
After that, when they didn’t return to their God-given land when Joseph died, He used the pharaoh to enslave His people so that they would consider living for Him instead of themselves. Some 400 years after arriving in Egypt He used pharaoh drive His people out of the land.
Now, did God set up or establish this kingdom or did He ALLOW the kingdom to rise up, then USE IT for His benefit?
I don’t know. There seems to have been tribes, nations, and kingdoms without number that were evil at their very beginnings. Others started out nice, but turned quickly to the dark side.
So, if I happen to be born in a nation that started out with generous liberties giving me freedom to worship the god of my choice or not worship at all, am I blessed? Most certainly! But if I am born in the later stages of that same nation, a time when many of those liberties are being withdrawn, am I still obligated to pay the taxes that support the licentious behavior of its leaders?
When Paul penned these words to the Roman Believers it had only been a few years since the Roman soldiers had crucified Christ on a criminal’s cross. In fact it had only been a few years since the leaders of his nation of Israel had dropped the guilty verdict on that same Son of God. Should the Jews of the day refused to pay the temple taxes or shred the leaders who collected the Roman taxes and skimmed off the top of the money pot?
I’m not sure. It would seem that God has always used one nation to chastise another nation or its own people.
I have tried to take a position of respect but not support. In my non-support I refused to file tax returns for many years because I didn’t want to support what I felt was corruption in government. I started paying taxes after caving in to the arguments of friends, based on this chapter of Romans.
Have I been blessed because I pay taxes?
Maybe, but I’ve been more blessed because I’m following God in many other areas of my life… not so much because I pay taxes.
When segments of my government make laws that result in the killing of babies or the euthanasia (convenience killing) of old people, how am I going to “not support” those laws? Do I just hide my head in the sand or in a cave and ignore what goes on around me. Or should I speak out against it!
I am that old person they are considering killing when I’m too old to pay my taxes or whenever it is convenient.