You Shall Not Speak Evil of a Ruler of Your People

by Neal Pollard
whousedark.jpgIn the boiling pot of politics in which we find ourselves, emotions can run extremely high. Of course, that did not start with this political season. Unfortunately, the respect and honor that people once gave those in “high office” is eroding.
The current president has been treated contemptuously and shown great disrespect, even by those in places of great influence. Even a movie portraying him in less than honorable ways reveals a disturbing trend.
The president who served before him, with whose views and platform I happen to mostly disagree, was also shown much disrespect during his eight years.
The upcoming election stands to strongly displease half of this nation, whichever way it goes. Whichever way it does go, we have the same God-given obligation toward the man who assumes that important position. It was an obligation that was first laid out under the first covenant, but one that continued under the New Testament.
After Paul was arrested in Jerusalem (Acts 21:34), the Sanhedrin Council called him to answer before them (Acts 22:30). While being examined, Paul was struck by someone standing near him at the command of Ananias, the high priest (Acts 23:2). Paul, apparently not knowing who authorized his being hit, rebuked Ananias (Acts 23:3). Observers inform him he was “reviling” God’s high priest, to which Paul replied, “I did not know, brethren, that he was the high priest; for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people” (Acts 23:5).
That is a quotation from Exodus 22:28. Notice that this was spoken to the people of God. Nothing was said about the quality and goodness of the leader.
Later, Paul urges Timothy to teach the church at Ephesus that “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” (1 Timothy
This is said to be good and acceptable in God’s sight (1 Timothy 2:3). Note that it is for “all in authority.” Let us not forget that the Caesars were the kings and that the Roman government was filled with all manner of unsavory types, from the top down to magistrates and city
Peter urges Christians subject to the same government and officials to “Honor the king” (1 Peter 2:17).
We should never admire and imitate the bad morals of our leaders. We should do whatever is legally within our power to prevent the greater of two evils from having power.
But God has given us his will regarding how we treat those who are in office, these ones “ordained of Him” (cf. Romans 13:1-7). We are not to speak evil of them. We are to pray for them. We are to honor them.
Commands are easy when they coincide with our will and inclination already. Discipleship is tough when the commands go against our will.
Let us pray about the present situation and do what is within our power. Then, let us leave the rest to the unlimited power of God!
From Neal’s Daily Bread e-zine, of the Bear Valley congregation in Denver.

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