“Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor” (Romans 13:7).
On President’s Day each year, our nation remembers and honors our presidents, especially such great leaders of the past as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, who played critical roles in the history of our nation. Whether these men were born-again Christians or not is still a matter of controversy, and the same is true of our current leaders.
Regardless of that, however, the Bible commands that we honor them, “for there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God” (Romans 13:1). If the Apostle Paul could write of the pagan, cruel, licentious Roman emperor that “he is the minister of God to thee for good” (Romans 13:4), then surely this must be true of our own duly elected, nominally Christian leaders today.
We honor them because God has (for reasons that may be inscrutable to us) placed them in these positions of authority. “The most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will, and setteth up over it the basest of men” (Daniel 4:17).
“Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake. . . .” We are therefore commanded: “whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors . . .” (I Peter 2:13,14). We are entitled, of course, also to pursue any avenue provided by these same ordinances for changing them, or for the redress of grievances, or for securing better leaders. When, however, we must choose between obeying a law of God or of human government, “we ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). This includes submitting graciously to whatever legal penalty this disobedience entails, “For it is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men” (I Peter 2:15). HMM