8 Minute Read

Be Still

To the best of your ability, get rid of all distractions. Take a couple of minutes to breathe deeply, to quiet yourself in the Lord’s presence. Then, prayerfully ask the Lord to speak to you in this time and let Him know that you will be listening and will make whatever adjustments He will reveal to you.

Today’s Bible Reading:

Jeremiah 51:54–52:34
Titus 3:1-15
Psalm 100:1-5
Proverbs 26:18-19

Listen to the Lord

Slowly and reflectively read the following verses and listen to what God will say to you through them. Then, consider writing down any insights He reveals to you.

Titus 3:1-2 (NLT): “Remind the believers to submit to the government and its officers. They should be obedient, always ready to do what is good. They must not slander anyone and must avoid quarreling. Instead, they should be gentle and show true humility to everyone.”

Reflections from Scripture:

When we approach God’s Word, we should not see it as a buffet. We should refuse to think of it as a bunch of command options that we can select from – choosing to comply with some and not others.

Instead, we should approach our time in God’s Word with a desire to properly understand, interpret, and obey each relevant command and principle.

Here’s a case in point: Many Christians, particularly white evangelicals, find it utterly appalling to pray for some of our government leaders right now. I know of a pastor who prayed for President Joe Biden in a worship service (in compliance with 1 Timothy 2:1-4), and his prayer stirred up a hornet’s nest. Some people were furious that he would pray for our current president.

Yet 1 Timothy 2:1-4 doesn’t call us to pray only to governmental officials with whom we agree. Likewise, Titus 3:1-2 does not merely command us to humbly submit only to governmental leaders who are in our preferred political party.

It helps to realize that Paul, led by the Holy Spirit, was giving this instruction when Nero was Emperor of Rome. Nero was the emperor who watched Rome burn and then blamed it on the Christians. He then fed Christians to the lions and used their burning bodies as “human torches” to light his gardens.

So, how are we to understand the command to pray for and submit to even those governmental leaders that are so utterly wicked?

First, we must realize that our default is submission to the government (Romans 13:1-2). However, we ultimately serve a higher authority (Acts 5:25-29). Therefore, when the government commands us to do something that violates God’s law, we obey God, disobey the government, and receive the consequences.

Second, when the government is literally evil and is advocating things that are diametrically opposed to God’s law, then they are our “enemies.” Yet, how a Christian treats an enemy is very different than expected. Among other things, we are commanded by our Lord to love them and pray for them (Matthew 5:43-47).

Finally, why would Christians be commanded to respond this way? Well, our Lord commands us to take the “high road” when the government is groveling in the moral mud. We also realize that our Savior did not train us to lead revolutions but to change society in a more profound way. Jesus has called us to change the culture one heart at a time through the proclamation of the Gospel. 

The first-century Christians never took up a weapon or blasted government leaders on social media. All they had was the Gospel, and they shared it with a lost and dying world. In a relatively short time, their seemingly harmless act of evangelism had caused others to accuse them of turning the world upside down (Acts 17:6).

Friend, especially my American friends, please be careful of your words, actions, and heart if you speak into politics. Be sure to do so in a way that is in conformity with Christ’s words. If not, you will further damage the cause of Christ by causing others to see us as a political voting block to be resisted rather than joyful servants of the King to be heeded. They will be much less prone to listen to our Gospel proclamations. And long after our current world is destroyed, they will be in a Christless Hell if they don’t embrace that Gospel. So, be careful to obey the Lord, my friend.

Spend Time in Prayer

Lord Jesus, I pray that You would keep me continually aware of what Your Word has to say. Regarding Titus 3:1-2, I pray that I would respond to government and political figures in a way that honors You by obeying You. I pray this in Your Name, Amen.

Matt Ellis is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida (fbcpolkcity.com). His latest book is God’s Grace in the Real World. Connect with him on FacebookTwitter, or LinkedIn.