Often when I am driving on the road for long periods of time, I will tune in to listen to different radio talk shows. I have observed a pattern across the spectrum of those who claim to represent conservative America. Often they speak disrespectfully of politicians with statements like “he is an idiot” or “she is a moron.” They mockingly belittle the mental competency of their intended targets or accuse them of evil motives. Several of these hosts skillfully move between humor and anger and it is easy to be sucked into the emotion-charged airwaves.
Romans 13:1-4—Everyone must submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist are instituted by God. So then, the one who resists the authority is opposing God's command, and those who oppose it will bring judgment on themselves . . . For government is God's servant to you for 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.
While it is okay to speak out against corruption or question policy, we must be wary that we don’t become disrespectful and ugly towards those who are in positions of authority. For by judging and smearing those appointed to lead us, we give up the high ground of spiritual nobility for the sleazy soil of slander. By speaking against leaders, we may unwittingly speak against God for as the wise prophet Daniel noted, “He changes the times and seasons; He removes kings and establishes kings. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding” (Daniel 2:21).
Watchman Nee wrote in Love Not The World, “Wherever in the world a nation’s government is left to itself, it follows its natural course which is further and further away from God.” But why camp on the bluff of disparagement? We know the world is an evil place—this is not some shocking revelation. Ought we not to pray for those in power? Shouldn’t we cry out to God to work His will, to redeem the unholy, to fix what is broken and to give us opportunity to be His rightful ambassadors? No government officials will find Jesus in the language of smear and vitriol spoken by those who claim to be His followers. Why wouldn’t authorities look to marginalize and hurt those engaged in destroying them verbally? Jesus said, “bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:28).
Not only should we pray for those who rule, we are expected to “Submit to every human institution because of the Lord, whether to the Emperor as the supreme authority, or to governors as those sent out by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.” (1 Peter 2:13,14). Paul coached Titus in a time of great governmental corruption to share with those he taught the following:
Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to slander no one, to avoid fighting, and to be kind, always showing gentleness to all people. For we too were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, captives of various passions and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, detesting one another. (Titus 3:1-3)
God never asks us to submit to laws or obey decrees that violate His moral and higher authority. For example, we have the right to refuse unlawful orders or lawful orders that put us in direct violation of what God commands. Peter respectfully reminded his Jewish authorities who ordered him not to mention the name of Christ, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
Our challenge as God’s children is not to engage in conduct unbecoming saints. There is no glory in ruler-bashing or attacking leaders with saber-sharp language. I have coined a word for such behavior. I call it authlicism—criticizing those who are in positions of authority with disrespectful language. We don’t have to find satisfaction from our tongue; we should be living in victory through the One in our hearts who is Lord of all! Something to think about . . . in reveration!
There is not a square inch in the whole domain of human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry out “Mine!”—Abraham Kuyper, former Dutch prime minister and theologian.
©2009 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)