Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
-1 Peter 2:13–17
There is so much in these verses as we think about what God is teaching us about our lives, about government, about how to live our lives in view of government around us, even government that is making it hard to follow Jesus, which was the case in 1 Peter when this letter was being written. And yet we see God commanding followers of Jesus to be subject to human institutions, to be submissive citizens of a government for the Lord’s sake. This glorifies God to submit to the government around us. Obviously not as ultimate, but as a good institution designed by God while our supreme submission is still to God. In the words of the church in the Book of Acts, we obey God rather than men. When faced with an order from a government that would involve disobeying God, then yes, we ultimately choose God and obedience to God, even when that could cost us our lives.
God has not called us to worship those in leadership positions, but to worship God while we obey and submit to the governmental leaders.
I think about brothers and sisters around the world right now who live in countries where it’s illegal for them to follow Jesus, it’s illegal for them to proclaim Jesus, and they do so anyway, at the risk of their lives. So so much to pray for here. Let’s just dive in. God, we praise you for government, for institutions sent by you, leaders sent by you, to use your words from 1 Peter 2:14, to punish those who do evil and praise those who do good. God, we pray for our government in the United States and for followers of Jesus who are praying in different countries for their governments. God, we pray for governments that punish those who do evil and praise those who do good. God, we pray for that simple, significant description of your design for the government to be true around us. We pray that in the middle of the government where we live, the countries where we live, you would help us to do good, to do good deeds as we read earlier in 1 Peter 2, to live as servants of yours and servants of others, to share the gospel with others, to love our neighbors as ourselves, to honor everyone.
God, we pray especially during these days where we’re so tempted by the ways of the world around us to dishonor people in our words and our actions, even just in our minds where no one else can see. God help us to honor everyone, to love the brotherhood, to love your church specifically, God. We pray that you’d help us to love one another well during these days, God, that we would be known by our love for each other, you’d help us to fear you above all, over all. God help us to live with the fear of you. We pray you’d help us to honor the emperor, to use your words from verse 17, oh, God, to honor the leaders over us. God help us to honor President Trump, Vice President Pence, Speaker Pelosi, and other leaders in our federal government and state governments, and local governments.
God help us to honor them in ways that glorify you. Again with our words and our actions and even in our own minds, we pray that you would help us to be subject in the ways you call us to, for your sake to be subject to government around us, and at the same time, Oh God, ultimately to be submissive to you, to look to you as Lord over all, as a leader over all, as king over all, as the one true most high God. Our lives are yours. Help us to obey you no matter what it costs. And God, that feels so easy to pray in the country where I live. God, we pray together for brothers and sisters around the world who live in totalitarian regimes, who live in governments where it is illegal for people to follow you, to proclaim you, to be disciples and make disciples of the nations. God, we pray that you would strengthen them and help them.
Help them to be subject for your sake to the government around them, but ultimately submissive to you and to glorify you and the country where you have called them to glorify you. God help us. Help us, we pray, to obey 1 Peter 2:13-17 in every way. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Join us in praying God’s Word as we lead up to the presidential election on November 3rd. Download our prayer guide HERE.