Saturday, August 18, 2018

2018.08.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 13:5-7

Questions for Littles: For what two reasons must we be subject (v5)? What do we also do because of this (v6)? Why do we pay taxes (6b)? What are four different kinds of things that we might owe to an authority (v7)? 
From the Scripture for this week’s sermon, we heard about two reasons that we are to obey the governing authorities: wrath and conscience.

The “wrath” reason is more immediate. We usually think of it in terms of “the wrath to come,” but in v5 it is connected to the ability to wield the sword from v4. There are things that the government commands that it really has no right to command—things that don’t help us love God or neighbor, and may actually be hindrances to loving God or neighbor.

Yet, the government still has that sword—that ability to punish—as God has ordained for it to have. There is a wisdom calculation that we must make: is it worth it to disobey on this point, in order to be able to love God and neighbor more conveniently?

But then there is the other reason: conscience. We covered that in Monday’s devotional on vv1-4, but it bears repeating that every lawful command must be obeyed, because government is instituted by God.

That brings us to the subject of taxes. The government at the time that Paul wrote this letter had done things like crucify Christians, cover them in tar, and light them on fire as torches. But, as long as it was also actually punishing evildoers, taxes were due to it as a matter of conscience.

However, there was another reason to pay. Tax collectors and soldiers were in cahoots with one another to get more money out of people than they were supposed to collect. There’s a choice there: is it worth it to suffer the wrath of the soldiers to stiff the tax collector on the overcharge?

At the end of the day, every authority over us is due one kind of thing or another—even if that thing is just respect or honor. And we must give them what is due for both reasons: punishment from men and conscience before God!
What do you owe to the various authorities in your life? Do you pay it?
Suggested Songs: ARP72A “God, Give Your Judgments to the King” or TPH174 “The Ten Commandments”

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