Thursday, 21 June 2018
Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, Titus 3:1
“Them” here is referring to all in the congregation. It is inclusive of all of the categories mentioned in Chapter 2 – older men, older women, young women, young men, and bondservants. Paul exhorts Titus to “Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities.”
Paul states this same type of thought in Romans 13:1. There he also includes a reason –
“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.”
In Chapter 2, Paul addressed issues which were reflective of life in general, especially in regards to home and church matters. These words go beyond those more local issues, and they embrace conduct for Christians in the society at large. “Rulers and authorities” is speaking of any level of government, from the local town magistrates, all the way up to the Roman emperor. Christians are to be subject to such.
Nothing has changed today except the structure of the government. Wherever members of the church are to be found, whether in Sarasota, Florida or Timbuktu, Mali, Christians are expected to be subject to those in power over them. The form of government may be a republic, a monarchy, socialist, or communist; but Christians are to live within the confines of their rulers and authorities, being obedient to their laws. The exception, however, concerns any law which conflicts with their duty to God.
An example would be abortion. It is legal, and therefore Christians are to accept this (even if working legally to have the law changed) within the culture, not going around blowing up people who perform them. They are also to pay their taxes, even if some of those taxes are used by the government for such purposes, knowing that taxes are used for a whole host of governmental projects. And yet, Christians themselves may not participate in abortion because it is contrary to God’s expectations for His people; abortion is murder.
When faced with either performing mandatory abortions (such as a doctor or nurse), or being told they must have a mandatory abortion, the Christian is to reject this and hold God’s law above that of man. At times, such decisions may be very hard to evaluate as to what should or should not be done. An understanding of God’s word, and a reliance on His direction, is always necessary to help form proper decisions.
Paul next says, “to obey.” Christians are to obey their leaders, except in matters contrary to God’s law. The word of God must take first priority in the believer’s life.
He then says, “to be ready for every good work.” Jesus said to the Jews that they were to render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s. Likewise, Christians should be ready to perform any “good work” within their nation that the government directs. If it includes working in the government, serving in the military, or paying taxes, those things are to be accomplished without rebellion. Again, unless the work requested or mandated is contrary to the word of God, the believer is to be ready to accomplish it.
Life application: Happily or unfortunately, we are stuck in this world under whatever government we exist. Christians have a responsibility to do what is required of them while that state exists. This includes, if a part of a society which holds votes, using their vote to effect change within that society. Christians who fail to use their vote for good, are guilty of allowing the lack of their vote to be used for bad. All things in this life are temporary, but as long as we are living it, we are to live it responsibly, and to the glory of God.
Heavenly Father, as Christians we have the unique position of being under two forms of government at one time. We live in lands where human governments rule, and Your word instructs us on how to live in such a situation. But we also live under Your government, and we are obligated to live in accord with Your word. When the two conflict, we are to hold to Your word and will above all else. Give us wisdom in this. Help us as we seek to do what You would intend for us at all times. Amen.