What does the Bible say about a culture of strength? Let’s get right to it. First the Scriptures, then four big ideas.
1 Everyone must submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist are instituted by God. 2 So then, the one who resists the authority is opposing God’s command, and those who oppose it will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have its approval. 4 For government is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, because it does not carry the sword for no reason. For government is God’s servant, an avenger that brings wrath on the one who does wrong. 5 Therefore, you must submit, not only because of wrath, but also because of your conscience. 6 And for this reason you pay taxes, since the authorities are God’s public servants, continually attending to these tasks. 7 Pay your obligations to everyone: taxes to those you owe taxes, tolls to those you owe tolls, respect to those you owe respect, and honor to those you owe honor.
The strength of a nation ultimately comes from God (vv1-2). All countries, empires, and leaders are accountable to the Lord. He is the one who sovereignly oversees the earth. He causes nations to rise and fall. Dynasties such as the Egyptians, Babylonians and Romans thought they would never fall, but they were wrong. The strength of a nation ultimately comes from God.
Government has the God-given responsibility to protect its citizens from evildoers (vv3-4). Government is to protect its citizens from evildoers, both foreign and domestic. Law-abiding citizens and visitors to a nation should know that the laws in the land are just and fair, and that there is security in place to protect them from those who seek to do them harm. People should be protected from terrorists, foreign armies, and domestic lawbreakers.
Appropriate public funding should be used to provide for public servants that protect the people (vv6-8). Police officers, military personnel, and security forces have a vital role. There should be adequate funding to support them as they do their work. This is why we pay taxes. Government should not overtax its citizens for these things, but there should be appropriate funding. We are also to pay tolls, respect and honor to those who are deserving. It is wonderful to see people taking the time during the day to say, “Thank you for serving,” to police officers, firefighters, military personnel and other public servants.
God’s people are called to do what is good, always in accordance with God’s will (vv3-5). Those who obey the laws and do good should never have to worry about being punished. As a pattern of living, Christ-followers should obey the laws of the land. The only exceptions to this for Christ-followers come when the laws of the land conflict with God’s Word. In the Bible, we see Daniel, Peter, John and others choosing to obey God fearlessly, even when they were arrested for doing so. We follow their example today. We seek to obey the laws of the land, always doing so unless those laws conflict with God’s Word. In those cases, we always choose to obey God. He is our strength.
Editor’s Note: This is post #7 of 7 in the series We God’s People are the Conscience of the Culture. Click the links below to view the other posts.