Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account.
One reason Solomon said we should not resist the government is to protect ourselves from harm. But I think there is a broader principle here: when you obey the authorities God has placed over you, whether in the home, at your workplace, or in the church, there is protection for you.
For example, consider the relationship between spiritual leaders and church members. In Hebrews 13:17, the writer said, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account.” Now, some pastors have misused this verse to abuse their congregations or to excuse themselves from any accountability. But that does not negate the truth of this verse: God has placed pastors as the spiritual leaders of their congregations. He has also placed the staff and the deacons. And when you obey that spiritual leadership, there is great protection for you. When you resist that leadership, there is great danger for you.
Maybe you do not agree with the pastor or the elders of the church you are part of right now. What are you supposed to do? You are to submit to those leaders because they are the ones who are accountable to God. It does not matter whether you agree with their decisions; you are not responsible–they are. The writer went on to say, “Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you” (v. 17).
When you go to church, if you are just criticizing, murmuring, and stewing with anger–or worse yet, if you quit going to church altogether–you are endangering your spiritual well-being. Let me give you a word of advice: get over your bitterness, and if you cannot get over your bitterness, then get out of that church and go find a church where you can submit to the spiritual leadership. Because to stay in a church and resist spiritual authority is to endanger your soul.
Not only that–to resist spiritual authority is to endanger your physical well-being as well. In Numbers 16, a group of Israelites decided to lead a rebellion against Moses. They rejected his spiritual authority. And how did God respond? Verses 31-32 say, “The ground that was under them split open; and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up.” The Bible says Jesus Christ gave Himself up for the church (Ephesians 5:25). When you are engaged in rebellion against spiritual authorities, you are hurting the body Christ died for, and He will not let that go without judgment. It is not profitable for you physically or spiritually to resist spiritual authority. But when you obey, there is protection for you.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Mr. Solomon Goes to Washington” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2009.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.