The Christian in civil society – Part 2
The Christian cannot be lawless, under the pretext that he is not a full citizen of the kingdom of this world. A foreigner living in a country still has to be law-abiding. God’s Word consistently commands us to “submit to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: to the king, … unto governors, … for so is the will of God” (1 Peter 2:13-15). There must be subjection to civil authority, so that there will be orderliness and security in the society, and so that society itself will be preserved.
Our submission is “for the Lord’s sake” and it is “the will of God.” God Himself instituted governance, so that there will be no anarchy in the society. Civil authorities “are sent by Him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of them that do well” (1 Peter 2:14). As long as the human authority does not ask us to do anything contrary to God’s law, we must obey. Our upright, righteous lives and submission to the laws of the government will “put to silence the ignorance of foolish men,” will silence mischievous men, who falsely accuse us of being insubordinate and opposed to the government.
“As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God” (1 Peter 2:16). Though the Son of God has set us free from sin, our freedom or liberty is not to be used as excuse or covering for lawlessness. We are free to be righteous, not to be rebellious. As the servants of God, we are not free from His restraints. We are not at liberty to indulge in sinful pleasures and practices, but we are to serve God in faithful obedience to His commandments. We are to “honour all men,” “love” the brethren, “fear God” and “honour the king.”
“Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear.” The exhortation here is applicable to anyone employed in the home, in an office or in any establishment. Servants or employees are to perform their duties in all honesty and faithfulness as Christians. They are to work faithfully under the working conditions with Christian meekness. “Not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.” Whatever the spiritual condition of the master or the boss, the servant or the employee is to show honour and respect to him and do his work as unto the Lord.
“For this is thank-worthy if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.” Christians are called to live and work in peace, because the Prince of Peace lives within us. Even if we have to “endure grief, suffering wrongfully” under our employers, we are to be conscientious, hard working, honest and Christ-like in all things related to our duty. “For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently?” Sinners react negatively to corrections and rebukes when they do wrong. Believers are to take rebukes and “buffeting” graciously and with a meek spirit, when they know that they are at fault.
“But if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God” (1 Peter 2:20). We may sometimes be blamed for the faults of others by our employers. Or we may erroneously be accused of doing wrong, when we have done well with the best intentions. We are to take all rebukes, justified or misplaced, patiently and in the spirit of meekness. That Christian attitude makes our service acceptable in the sight of God.
Further Reading (King James Version) 1 Peter 2:11-20; 1 Peter 2:13-17; Romans 13:1-7; Titus 3:1; Matthew 22:17-21; Titus 2:7,8; Romans 12:10; John 13:34,35; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Proverbs 24:21; 1 Peter 2:18-20; Ephesians 6:5-7; Colossians 3:22-25; Titus 2:9,10; 1 Peter 3:14-16; 4:14-16.