February 1, 2017
Submit to [the authorities], not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience (v.5).
READ: Romans 13:1-10
The ten-hour drive through the mountains led Dave from school to his home, but the trip robbed him of valuable study time. By driving faster, he could trim the journey to eight hours. That seemed like a pretty good bargain to him.
There was a problem though. He had to exceed the speed limit substantially (do the math). Clenching the wheel apprehensively, he looked for highway patrol cars the entire route. He couldn’t even enjoy the scenery. By the time Dave arrived home, relaxation had become impossible. He couldn’t sleep or study. His drive had saved two hours in travel time, but he lost more than he gained.
Speeding on a roadway might not rank high on our list of misdeeds, but intentionally breaking even a traffic law indicates a heart that wants its own way. The apostle Paul wrote, “For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you” (Romans 13:3).
The apostle penned those words during the reign of a regime that didn’t even recognize God. Yet he said, “The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. . . .[They’re] sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong” (v.4). He advised his readers, “Submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience” (v.5).
The next time he took his trip through the mountains, Dave found that easing up on the accelerator also eased his mind. His entire spirit calmed as he began to appreciate the spectacular drive he had hardly noticed before. It’s amazing what we can enjoy when we rest in God with a clear conscience.
365-day plan: Exodus 2:11-25
Peter echoes Paul’s respect for authority in 1 Peter 3:13-17. Note how we may suffer for doing what’s right.
Ask the Holy Spirit for His guidance today as you consider what might be bothering your conscience. How can you rest in God’s provision instead of trying to have your way?