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Daily Devotional | Christians and Government Daily Devotional | Christians and Government

Daily Devotional | Christians and Government


In addition to the health threat it presented, the COVID-19 crisis created political tensions for many churches when some states ordered them not to meet for worship.  Some complied with government regulations while others saw the order as an infringement on their religious freedom. This type of tension was familiar to the apostle Paul who addresses the subject in Romans 13. In an idolatrous culture where religion and politics were mixed, his command of Romans 12:18 to live at peace with everyone must have seemed challenging.

The apostle’s directive is simple. All believers must be subject to the governing authorities (v. 1). God’s purpose for human government was to act as a servant of the common good and punish wrong-doing (v. 4). Elsewhere, Scripture qualifies this obligation. Obedience to God takes priority over obedience to earthly rulers (Acts 5:29). However, as a citizen of the Roman Empire, Paul certainly knew that the laws and actions of civil authorities were not always righteous. Pilate executed Jesus for political reasons (Matt. 27:22–24). Roman officials mistreated Paul (Acts 16:37).

Despite the imperfections of governing rulers, believers were instructed to pay taxes (v. 6). More than this, Christians are required to treat those in authority with respect even when they disagree with their policies and practices. As Paul puts it in verse 7: “Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.” Paul modeled this obedience in his own ministry. Whether jailed or free, he treated those in authority with respect while claiming the rights and privileges that were his as a Roman citizen (Acts 22:25; 23:5). 

>> Disagreement with government policy does not free us from our obligation to pay taxes or obey laws. Civil disobedience is only warranted if it’s required by God or we are ordered to do what is forbidden by God.

Pray with Us

Dear God, it is so easy for us to confuse politics with theology. Teach us to interpret politics through your Word, and not the other way around. Help us to honor those you have put in authority over us.

BY Dr. John Koessler

John Koessler is Professor Emeritus of Applied Theology and Church Ministries at Moody Bible Institute. John authors the “Practical Theology” column for Today in the Word of which he is also a contributing writer and theological editor. An award-winning author, John’s newest title is When God is Silent: Let the Bible Teach You to Pray (Kirkdale). Prior to joining the Moody faculty, he served as a pastor of Valley Chapel in Green Valley, Illinois, for nine years. He and his wife, Jane, now enjoy living in a lakeside town in Michigan.

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