Swallowing Our Pride – Romans 13:1-2

by Pastor John Fredericksen

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To prepare for the ministry, I attended a very legalistic Christian university. They had an extremely conservative dress code, demanded short hair cuts for men, required attendance at all functions and classes, and strictly enforced all of their rules. Violators were sometimes unceremoniously expelled. It was a difficult adjustment for many coming out of high school, especially when human shortcomings were apparent in those in authority. Nonetheless, I chose to swallow my pride and submit to these rules, believing doing so would honor the Lord.

When Paul wrote to the believers at Rome, he told them, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God…” (Romans 13:1-2). It is noteworthy these God-inspired instructions were given when the ruthless Roman Empire was at its height. They swept into countries without mercy, slaughtered thousands, made examples of dissidents through public crucifixion, forced slavery and high taxation, and left an occupying army to enforce their tyranny. It is in this context that Paul instructed believers to swallow their pride and submit to these governing higher powers. In fact, they were to view these powers, though often cruel and corrupt, as being placed over them by God. To be defiant and rebellious was to disobey the command of the Lord to submit to them. Beyond this instruction, Paul cites additional reasons to submit themselves. They were to view even these oppressors as “…the minister of God to thee for good…” (vs. 4). Their rule brought orderliness in society, general protection against crimes, and a deterrent to wrongdoers. Because God instructed compliance, they must submit themselves “…for conscience sake” (vs. 5). They could not maintain a clear and sensitive conscience before the Lord and defy these higher powers. They were also to obey for testimony sake. Paul told them it was “…high time to…put on the armour of light…” without making “…provision for the flesh” to walk disorderly (vss. 11-14). Therefore, they were to pay taxes and give honor to those who sat in positions of authority (vss. 6-7).

These principles are still true for us today. We must view all who are in positions of authority as God’s instruments placed over us for our ultimate good. Therefore, we must be cooperative, respectful, and obedient to their governing, even if it means swallowing our pride. Will you choose to do that today?

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Start each day with short, devotional articles taken from the book Daily Transformation by Pastor John Fredericksen. As Pastor Fredericksen writes in the introduction:

"We welcome you, as you journey with us..., to not only learn information, but to benefit from examples of faith and failure, and seek to apply God’s Word to every day life. Together, let’s transition from only studying theories of doctrine, to applying God’s truths in a practical way every day. May God use these studies to help you find daily transformation."