What Paul is grateful for #4Paul's cause for thankfulness today is an unusual one. He's thankful for kings and those in authority. Bear in mind that Paul was arrested by Roman soldiers, did prison time in Rome and was ultimately beheaded there.
So why would he be grateful for government?
While government wasn't perfect, Paul saw the need for it. In his letter to the church in Rome, Paul urged his readers to obey authorities as far as possible (except where authority diverged from their faith). The role of kings and those in authority is to create and sustain a society where people can live "peaceful and quiet lives." Was Rome perfect? No they were not. But the order and structure they gave to society enabled the spread of the gospel. So Paul urged Timothy and his community to pray for the authorities. And maybe, because he understood how easily we give in to the temptation to whine and complain and focus on the negative, he challenges us to think of things to give thanks for.
This is a very timely message. We live in a time where our leaders' clay feet are very obvious. We are frustrated by the infighting, bickering, arrogance, incompetence and corruptness of our leaders. But in order to give thanks, we have to see what is good. When we find this good, it is reminder that God is still at work. Finding things to be thank-full for will protect us from the cynicism and negativity that keeps us from prayer.
Does this mean that we ignore the failures and mistakes of our leaders? Of course not. We must hold them accountable. But we must also pray for them and our prayers should not be dominated by negativity - we should learn to pray thankfully.
Here's the weekend challenge: As you enjoy your Saturday and Sunday, think about the roads, electricity, water and infrastructure that make it possible for you to shop, watch the sport on TV and enjoy a meal with your loved ones. Take time to give thanks that God gives us all this through imperfect authorities.
|I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone-- 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. (1Timothy2:1-2)|