Reviling Rulers

I have a missionary friend who closely follows the American political scene. Back in 2010, he sent me an article he wrote in response to that year’s midterm elections. For the most part I thought his commentary was well written. My friend even admitted he used to be a “bleeding heart liberal” that disliked Ronald Reagan. Three years after the 1980 election, he suddenly became a big Reagan supporter. What made the difference? My friend got born again and in his own words, “ new Kingdom affiliation had brought about a new worldview!”

However, there was one part of his article that bothered me. My friend labeled Barack Obama a “liar and impostor.” I don't agree with the decisions Obama has continued making since becoming President. I would be happy if he was removed from office before his current term runs out. Then again, I read how the late Ruth Heflin (who hosted a couple of inaugural prayer breakfasts) lifted up President Bill Clinton in prayer while he faced impeachment hearings following the Monica Lewinsky affair. Sister Ruth believed an impeachment would have done more harm to our nation.

While the First Amendment gives Americans freedom to criticize government officials, God holds His people to a higher standard. Titus 3:1-2 says, “Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.” The Apostle Paul wrote other Scriptures about submitting to authority at a time when Roman emperors severely persecuted Christians. They were more wicked than most of our American politicians.  

Look in Acts 23 how Paul responded to one authority figure who gave a commandment that violated the law… 

1 Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, “Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.” 
2 And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. 
3 Then Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! For you sit to judge me according to the law, and do you command me to be struck contrary to the law?”
4 And those who stood by said, “Do you revile God’s high priest?” 
5 Then Paul said, “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.’”

Paul was referring to Exodus 22:28,”You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people.” One dictionary defines revile as “to make a fierce or abusive verbal attack on somebody or something.” 

This is not to say we should passively let our leaders make bad decisions. God’s people should take a stand against ungodly legislation in a reputable but firm manner. Moses repeatedly confronted Pharaoh to “let my people go.” John the Baptist was bold enough to tell King Herod he was in an unlawful marriage (Matthew 14:4).

Certainly, I don’t like how the United States has drifted away from the godly values it was founded upon. Uttering harsh remarks about our politicians is not the solution. As Christians we are commanded to pray for our leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-2) even if we didn’t vote for them. The prayers of the prophet Daniel resulted in King Nebuchadnezzar repenting before the Lord. The same thing can happen to the President, congressmen, judges, and other authority figures if we pray instead of complaining.

“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” - 2 Chronicles 7:14


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