Subject to government
From his current study in Peter, David Niednagel, Pastor/Teacher, Evansville, IN. David uses the S.O.A.P. method for his morning devotional time. (study, observe, apply, pray)
13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. ESV
This is the first of three sections talking about submission – in matters of government, employment and marriage. It starts with the Fear of the Lord, which all of them understood from the OT. Children are to be taught respect for authority from the youngest age, because it will affect every relationship in life.
After someone becomes a believer in the Lord Jesus he should learn that there is now a new motivation for our choices, and it is not fear of authority, but gratitude to the Lord Jesus for submitting to authority and taking the punishment we deserve. He did it voluntarily and asks us to live as He did. So, we are now to choose to submit ourselves to God just like Jesus did, and to all human institutions. We do it not because of threats, but to re-present Jesus and show our love and allegiance to Him.
But it is not natural to our old way of thinking, and our “flesh” naturally resists a life of submission. Nothing in any culture celebrates submission. We grow up wanting to be recognized and praised. And praise is for the winners, the beautiful, powerful and rich, not for the servants or “losers”. No one wants to be the servant. So Peter takes these three paragraphs to teach what it means to follow Jesus. We don’t normally tell this to new believers.
Our American independence began by rebelling against the government of England, and still today many are quick to rebel against government. PTL that we have a system that allows respectful dissent, but our sinful nature easily ignores the respectful dissent and disobeys what Peter writes here. We are to “Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” Paul tells us to pray for those in authority over us. (1Tim 2:1-4), but many Americans criticize more than they pray.
Lord Jesus, thank You for being the greatest example of submission ever – including submission to an unjust government. Help me remember in my speech and my attitude to be like You – to choose to use my freedom to submit and to show our world what You are like. Help me especially honor all people, and love the brotherhood. Amen.