Pay to all what is owed to them; taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

Romans 13: 7

 

Paying bills is a regular ritual of life. Every month I go through the same cycle of making arrangements for the proper amounts of funds to go to various people and places in order to satisfy the obligations that I have entered into. Admittedly this process has changed significantly in recent years as almost all of these payments are made by means of some form of electronic processing. I never send cash to someone and almost never write out those paper documents that are known as checks. The means and the methods used to make the payments doesn’t alter at all the fact that these are my obligations to be satisfied in the manner that I agreed upon. Paying our debts is a part of the orderly universe that God desires for His people to help create.

 

Yet financial obligations are not the most important ones in the orderly world that God calls us to participate within. Even more important is our response to people and to the institutions of this world. As followers of Christ we are taught by God’s Word to recognize the Lord’s hand in the creation, design, and implementation of civil and governmental structures and offices. These are positions that are filled by people, and we owe these people the same sort of respect that God grants to each of us. In that light, granting respect to people is something unique in the nature of God, for He knows every one of us at an intimate level that sees beyond the outward expression of our lives to the potential for redemption that comes through knowing Christ.

 

Christ calls upon His people to see others in the same manner. We will not like all of them, we certainly won’t agree with them all of the time, and we may need to stand in opposition to the ungodly things that they propose and set in motion; however, we still owe them a debt of obligation that is given to us by God. We are to speak out in opposition to what is wrong in their practices and policies without attacking the person. When people in positions of authority and power are particularly troubling to us, we must pray for them with a diligence and a vigor that demonstrates an unceasing desire to see that person come to know and to follow Christ. Christ desires for us to do something that is even harder than praying for them, for He instructs us to actually love them as He does. That is truly hard to do; yet, that is exactly what Paul tells us to do in the next live in his letter to Christ’s people in Rome. “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. Romans 13: 8

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