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Submitting to Authority


By Benjamin H. Liles

          This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. ~ Romans 13:6


          There has been a lot of talk lately about authority: who has the right, why we should obey, and to whom we submit to. The first and biggest thing is that we honor Him when we submit and honor those in authority over us. If we break the law do we not reap the rightful reward having thus broken the law? Even if who has authority does wrong do we do wrong because he or she has done it first? By breaking one of God’s commands we are under that condemnation for having broken what He’s said. Likewise, anyone, and this includes people in authority, who breaks the law is subjected in the same way and manner as the rest of us. So, it’s not a mean or an end to not render what is rightful to someone in authority. Where do I get this when this particular verse talks about taxes?

          Paul leads up to the thought of taxes, as it’s how those in authority get paid. They don’t exactly get paid to do a job without receiving some kind of payment. Taxes, even if levied harshly, are owed on a certain percentage of income received for the job or career we have. So, what is Paul talking about, especially leading up to verse 6 of chapter 13?

          Paul says in verse 1, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.” He goes on to add on to this thought by saying, “Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves” (v. 2). Paul adds on in verse 3, “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.” And this is what I rephrased earlier in this post, to a degree. Even those in authority have to answer to the law in breaking it, and it is therefore why when someone rules wrongly they are considered “evil.” But notice what Paul asks: “Do you want to be unafraid?” If we do what is right and good we do get a reward even if it is unseen.

          For brevity’s sake I am going to summarize the last two verses that lead to verse 6. “The one who ministers is to your benefit. By doing evil you need to be afraid. He or she doesn’t withhold justice without reason. The one who governs executes judgment on the one who does evil. It is better to subject yourself to being ruled, not just to avoid punishment, but also for a clear conscience.”

          And this takes us full circle to what I originally said. Those who rule justly and with impartiality get a reward for doing their job well, and it stems from us paying our taxes. It is only fair and right to give what is due so that we keep the advantages of being ruled effectively. It is also how officials are elected. This is certainly something to think on when we elect our officials. I pray this blesses you so that you know God is the ultimate authority. When we live our lives unto Him, we're saying, "I don't want to live without You, Lord. I want to live by Your way." I pray this in the name of Jesus for you. Amen.