Real authority

Date: Tuesday, June 24

ScriptureRomans 13:1-10

VerseThe commandments, Don’t commit adultery, don’t murder, don’t steal, don’t desire what others have, and any other commandments, are all summed up in one word: You must love your neighbor as yourself. (Romans 13:9)

EPSON scanner imageMany in our society seem to struggle with authority. One of our favorite pastimes seems to be criticism of the government. It gets some people elected to office, garners others great ratings for their television or radio program, and fuels a lot of conversation in coffeehouses and living rooms. Many offices are plagued with people critiquing the leaders above them, second guessing decisions, and wondering if they have what is best for the company at heart. Our denomination is currently struggling with the authority of our Book of Discipline, as some working for change do so by acting outside of our rules and are not facing disciplinary action. Authority can be a tricky thing.

In today’s lesson, Paul encourages us to be good citizens, to be obedient, and to do what is right. Remember, this is from a letter written to Christians living in Rome, the heart of the empire that is oppressing them. The rules weren’t fair, taxes were exorbitant, the government always won, and when someone came up against the empire, they were publicly executed. Yet Paul tells the people to do what is right, but he doesn’t leave them there.

In the second paragraph, he points us to a greater good: love. Love fulfills not just the law of the land, but the very Law of God. When we truly love another, we won’t do anything that will hurt them. John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, made this the first of his General Rules for discipleship: Do no harm. When all we do is out of love, we will surely do no harm. So it is with us. When we feel slighted, angry, held back, or held down, the answer is love. “The commandments … are all summed up in one word: You must love your neighbor as yourself.”

Prayer: Let me see others with your eyes of love. Amen.

Action: Try to go a whole day without being critical — of government, work, family members, or anyone else.

Respond: How can you work to change a policy while still obeying the policy?

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About Joe Iovino

Christian, husband & father, Associate Pastor in Monument CO, guitar player, motorcyclist, Mets fan.
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