Do I really Fear God?
Do I really fear the king?
Proverbs 24:21–22 (ESV)
“My son, fear the Lord and the king, and do not join with those who do otherwise, for disaster will arise suddenly from them, and who knows the ruin that will come from them both?”.
Most Christians like to think of themselves as those who fear God. We want to acknowledge Him in His rightful reign and in His capacity as – God. Isn’t it strange then, that it is often the case among us (especially in our day and age) to find the very ones claiming to fear God – having little fear of those God puts in civil authority? I will confess my own severe failing in this regard.
While the Scripture nowhere requires that we agree with the policies or philosophies of governmental systems and those who hold offices within them – we are nevertheless to “fear” them, even as we fear God. For the same word in our text is applied to both. We do not fear them AS God, but we fear them as we recognize God’s appointment of them and His institution of them for our good. (Rom. 13:1-8)
It came as a surprise to me that we do not have the right to just lambast Government officials at will. Clearly – the Scripture envisions the Church speaking openly and directly to sin issues – no matter who is involved. Such is the case with John the Baptist rebuking Herod in Matt. 13:3-4. But there is nary a word of disdain to be found for the governing of Herod himself – though we know him to be a pagan, ungodly, self-seeking, unjust and scandalous man. Our arena is sin – not policy. Though at times, certainly, some policies may be sinful too.
More to the point of the text however – is that we are to have an attitude of fear toward offices, and thus the ones who occupy them – irrespective of how well they do or do not rule. We may well disagree – but we dare not disdain or verbally pummel them carelessly. Nor, are we to truck with those who do.
It is not permissible for us to refrain from failing to fear the authorities – only to take up for and support those who do. We are not to join with others who take it upon themselves not to fear those in authority and let them tongue-lash others vicariously in our place. Note why: “disaster will arise suddenly from THEM” – the ones who we think are championing our cause by berating government officials in our place. And who can tell the depth of the disaster that will fall on both of us if we join them in their folly.
This is a place where we simply must not let our freedoms, cross over into license. Beware how you speak of our elected officials. God is listneing.
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Reid serves as the pastor for preaching and vision at Evangelical Church of Fairport in Fairport New York. A native of Rochester, N.Y., he has served in various ministry areas during his life, including: a founding member of the former Mark IV Quartet, Youth Pastor at ECF, former board member of the Fellowship of Independent Reformed Evangelicals (F.I.R.E.), and author of The Little Book of Things You Should Know About Ministry (Christian Focus Publications, 2002). Pastor Reid blogs regularly at Responsive Reiding.