Kingdom-minded politicians and civic leaders ought to be about the good of society, based on biblical values and principles. They are to help people discover greater ways of living responsibly in order to maximize the life and talents God has given them. The people who are represented by the civic leaders should be better off because of the service of their political representatives, and not worse off due to their desire for power or position.
We live in a day when far too many people crave celebrity status. Everybody wants their fifteen minutes of fame. Everyone wants to be recognized and applauded. But too often that comes at the cost of putting the focus on themselves and not on those they are there to serve. We should seek to raise up leaders who desire to be recognized for the kind of service they supply to people.
When we have representative leaders over us who we didn’t vote into office or support in any way, and yet they now serve over us as governing officials, one of the things we can do is pray for them. Scripture says, in 1 Timothy 2:1–2, that we are to pray for all those who lead us, including our political leaders. This includes the president, vice-president, congressmen and women, city council members, mayors, governors, senators, or anyone in leadership. You and I are to pray for them. It is amazing to me how many people will criticize a politician who they are unwilling to pray for. If we could muster more prayer than criticism, we will experience more positive action.
One of the reasons we are to pray for them is because God calls us to submit to the leaders above us. We read in 1 Peter 2:13–14,
“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.”
Because we are instructed to submit to leadership established in human institutions, we need to be careful to elect leadership that has our best interests in mind. And when that is not possible, we need to be proactive about praying for the existing leadership so that their hearts will turn toward God. This passage doesn’t say we have to like the leadership placed over us, but we do need to submit to them and pray for them and their leadership. Most importantly, we are not to bad-mouth them but respect their position (1 Peter 2:17). Exodus 22:28 puts it like this: “You shall not curse God, nor curse a ruler of your people.”
We need greater civility toward our civic leaders in our culture.
We need greater civility toward our civic leaders in our culture. Everyone feels free to put anyone and everyone down in some of the worst ways possible. Yet Paul reflected how we are to speak of the leaders over us when he referred to Nero as his deacon. Nero ruled over Rome. You couldn’t get much worse than Nero when it came to rulers. He was a terrible “deacon,” yet Paul still respected the office, even if he didn’t like the person in the office. Ecclesiastes 10:20 states it like this,
“Furthermore, in your bedchamber do not curse a king, and in your sleeping rooms do not curse a rich man, for a bird of the heavens will carry the sound and the winged creature will make the matter known.”
You are not to speak badly of the leaders placed over you, even in private when you think nobody is listening. To “curse” in the context of this passage means to wish evil on someone. It is not talking about saying swear words. We are not to do that because it insults God, since God has chosen for this leader to rule at this time, even if that choice is for judgment. As long as the person is in office, you drive away God’s intervention and blessing when you choose to curse or belittle them with your words and wishes because you do not like them.
God commands us not to do this. If and when we approach leaders we disagree with, in order to point out our disagreements with them, we are to do it in an honorable fashion. We need to do it with self-control and respect, like how Paul spoke to Felix when he appeared before him in Acts 24:25. Paul told Felix the truth about how he felt and the things he felt Felix was doing wrong, but he did it in a way that allowed Felix to listen because it was said with respect. Leaders are to be challenged about their moral character (Matt. 14:3–4; Mark 6:18; Luke 3:18–19).
The Bible is clear that we are to respect authority (Prov. 24:21). We are to honor them and pray for them.
The Bible is clear that we are to respect authority (Prov. 24:21). We are to honor them and pray for them. We are to condemn any wrong that they do, but we should do it in a way that is honorable and respectful, all while praying for a change of character. After all, God changed a lot of people’s character in Scripture over the years. Moses was a murderer. Peter denied Jesus. Solomon was a womanizer. Mary Magdalene was a loose woman. There are people all throughout Scripture that, when God got ahold of their hearts, he fixed their character and gave them a new start.
by Tony Evans
Christians love to talk about politics, but the current conversation is full of contentious words that divide our churches and families. Dr....
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