I love the feature on my computer and phone that dings to remind me of an approaching appointment or event. Even when I write myself a note not to forget, a dinging, blinking screen ensures me that I won’t forget my task.
The apostle Paul understood the importance of reminders as well. He knew that we don’t all remember it the first time (or even the second or seventh!). That’s why when he wrote his pastor friend Titus, he challenged Titus to remind the people in his congregation of a few important virtues. In Titus 3:1-2, Paul lists seven of these areas he wanted Titus to address. Today we’ll mention the first and then we’ll touch on the rest in the days that follow.
Reminder #1: Submit to Authority
Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities…(Titus 3:1, ESV)
I know, I know, we don’t like the “s-word” — submit. Doesn’t Paul know that we just came off a year that saw unprecedented protests around the world and Occupy Wall Street pulsing through our media outlets? But before you navigate away from the page, give the idea a second-glance.
The concept of submission is found throughout the pages of the Bible and is rooted in God’s authority over us. We, as his creation, are to submit to his authority in our lives (James 4:7, Eph. 5:24). He is a most loving and tender heavenly Father who cares deeply for us and our needs. For us to place ourselves under his authority is exceptionally wise. We could be in no better hands.
Here on earth, God has established certain people to exercise authority (which they derive from him) to rule in his stead (Rom. 13:1). When we are refuse to submit to the governing authorities in our lives (boss, government, police, etc.), we are directly opposing God (Rom. 13:2). This doesn’t mean we can’t express our opinion, disagree or protest. This also doesn’t mean that we have to obey when we are told to violate God’s Word (e.g. Acts 4:1-22). But it does mean that we do need to follow laws and rules, even if we don’t like them.
Don’t forget, the government Paul and Titus lived under was far worse than anything we Americans have lived under. Some of the Roman Caesars were notorious for the creativity in persecuting Christians. The “s-word” was even s-carier back then.
So why do we have to be reminded to submit? Because we don’t usually like the idea. Our sinful nature screams for autonomy. So what can we do when it’s mighty tough to comply with these standards?
We can pray. We can pray for the leaders (1 Tim. 2:1-2) and we can pray for our attitudes.
We can encourage. We can encourage those whom God as placed over us and we can gently and lovingly prod our peers who may also struggle with the “s-word.”
We can trust. We can trust a good and loving God that he knows what he’s doing. Even if you don’t believe those in authority do! God has put you in this place with that government/boss/supervisor/patrolman, etc. for a reason. Trust in his wise purposes and remember to submit.