Day 4: Authority
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
Romans 13:1 ESV
In my early twenties, I had in mind how life would go. My parents raised me to be independent, and somewhere along the way, I decided that meant I would stand up to authority on every level. It almost wrecked my marriage. I remember thinking, No man is going to tell me what to do. I’ll not be brought to tears. As you can imagine, there were many standoffs in my home. Some small, others monstrous, and when I came out on top I placed a checkmark in the win column of my life and continued on my way.
Eventually, all my winning left me on the losing side of the most important relationship I had. Broken and messed up I searched His Word for help. When I read the words of Ephesians for the first time, I thought I would puke.
Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.
Ephesians 5:22-23 ESV
This did not fit into my worldview. As a child I bucked authority, though I did it silently. I perceived authority as imprisoning and I fought like mad against it. This Scripture brought me to a crossroad. I could continue doing it my way or I could choose God’s way.
It wasn’t easy, my flesh bucked every single step I took toward submission. There were times I fought tooth and nail to be submissive. I’ve bitten down hard on my tongue which needed to be tamed. I’ve agreed when I really wanted it my way. It wasn’t easy, it still isn’t at times.
God’s Word is clear about my respect for authority. Learning to respect and submit to my husband has gently taught me respect for authority in other areas as well.
It came like lightning one day, a light bulb moment, when my children were little.
I’d been reading a book by Dr. James Dobson, in which he said one of the issues with children which deserved corporal punishment, i.e. a spanking, was disobedience and disrespect for authority. I wrestled with his teaching and wondered if it was true.
Then the epiphany came. Children learn to respect authority through their relationship with their parents. And if they don’t or won’t respect their parents, then they will probably never be willing to come under the authority of their Father in heaven.
Yes. Children disrespecting their parents is a spanking offense. Their eternity is at stake.
Respecting those in authority is essential to our walk of faith. To respect the authorities placed over us is to respect God. There is no authority except from God.
Read Romans 13:1-7
How seriously does God take the issue of respecting government authority? What are the consequences for disobeying?
Considering those currently in government leadership positions and the state of our government based on their decisions, how do you feel about them as “God’s servant for your good” (Romans 13:4)?
Faith, being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1), can be challenging when we come under those who use their authority in ungodly ways. Trusting God with the authority He’s placed in our lives and our response to it will either draw us closer to God or farther from Him.
There are other areas besides government where respect of authority is an issue.
Read Colossians 3:18-4:1
Now, list every relationship found in this passage and the respect to be shown.
Are only those under authority called to treat those over them with respect? What else did you see?
Re-read Colossians 3:23-24
What reason is given for treating one another with respect in these relationships?
We are called, not only to respect government officials, but children are commanded to honor their parents, and wives are called to respect their husbands. Slaves and masters are not a relationship we see in our culture, but it certainly equates to employees and employers. Anyone who has authority over you deserves proper respect because they have been placed there by God.
Those in authority also have a responsibility to God for the position they have been given. Treating the authority given us with respect is just as important as respecting the authority placed over us.
Respecting authority is an important faith issue because it reflects our trust in God and His sovereignty in giving and placing authority in our lives. For those who follow Christ there should be no fear of authority, and the authority given should be wielded with a sincere fear of the Lord.
When we use our authority in a loving manner as God calls us to, we witness God’s love to those we lead. When we serve with the grace and excellence of one serving God, we witness His love to those over us.
There is no authority except from God.
Talk It Out
Talk it over with yourself:
List the people or institutions who have authority over you. Have you considered their position as from God? Why or why not?
List the places where you have been given authority. Have you considered it as a charge from God? Why or why not?
Talk it over with God:
Ask God to help you see Him behind the authority over you and given to you. Seek His guidance in responding to authority in a Christ-like manner.
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
Colossians 3:23-24 ESV
Work Out Your Faith
Write a note of thanks and encouragement to an individual or group of individuals in authority over you whom you have had a difficult time respecting. Ask God to use you to inspire them to fulfill their role in a manner which will please Him.
Reflection Scripture: Memorize
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