Why Obeying the Speed Limit is an Act of Worship (4)
We’ve now come to the final article in our study of 1 Peter 2:13-17. Continue reading . . .
We’ve now come to the final article in our study of 1 Peter 2:13-17. Here Peter says to us:
“Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor” (1 Peter 2:13-17).
We are now ready for the fourth and final observation on this passage.
(4) My fourth observation is simply to take note of Peter’s concluding four-fold exhortation in v. 17.
First, honor everyone (v. 17a). We are to treat every human being with dignity and respect and honor. All are created in God’s image. The emperor isn’t the only one deserving of our honor. Of course, how we honor everyone will differ. We do not honor an immoral scoundrel the same way we honor Mother Theresa!
Second, love the brotherhood (v. 17b). Although we are to love and care for all mankind, we have a special responsibility to the family of faith.
Third, fear God (v. 17c). Although we honor the emperor, we are never told to fear him. Although we are to love other Christians, our deepest and most passionate affection and our most reverential awe is due unto God alone.
Fourth, honor the emperor (v. 17d). You shouldn’t fear him the way you do God nor do you have to love him the way you do Christians in the family of faith which we call the church.
But here we again confront a problem. How do we honor someone with whose views we profoundly disagree? How do show respect for a person in authority when his legislative agenda is decidedly un-biblical? How do we obey this commandment when the President or perhaps a Senator or a Supreme Court Justice or even a state Governor promotes dishonorable and destructive deeds?
I’ve heard and read the recommendations of many people, but here are five things that I would suggest to you and me.
First, honor them by acknowledging that this person in power holds office by God’s decree. In Romans 13 Paul even describes him or her as “God’s servant” (v. 4). Because you govern by a divine mandate, we will strive to display honor even though we may believe you are acting contrary to the call of God on your life.
Second, honor them by embracing the fact that those in authority are, like you, created in the image of God and thus bear a unique identity deserving of respect. Cf. James 3:9.
Third, honor them by being careful in the language you use to criticize their policies. Harsh criticism is often warranted, but never such as belittles a person’s value as a human being.
Fourth, honor them by opposing their policies in a non-violent way, by always going the extra mile to be objective and fair in stating their position without misrepresentation or caricature, and by appealing to truth as a way of exposing their arguments as false.
Fifth, honor them by praying for them fervently and regularly and sincerely. After all, it was Paul who said in 1 Timothy 2:1-3,
“I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior.”