“Let every soul be subject to the governing
authorities. For there is no authority
except from God, and the authorities that
exist are appointed by God” (Romans 13:1
Southern Bangladesh was under threat of a major cyclone when a friend there emailed me to please remember all of the people there in my prayers.
He warned that communications might be interrupted, and I might not hear from him for a few days. After an anxious time, I got word that all there were safe and there was minimum damage from the storm.
His email contained a phrase one does not often hear from citizens of Bangladesh: “Government took very good pre caution and that is why it was not devastating like before (sic).”
Several times over the past few decades the national government of Bangladesh has been rated by surveying organizations as “the most corrupt government in the world.”
Bangladeshi people are very cynical about the treatment they are likely to receive and the services which are provided. Compliments to the government are rare.
That is why my friend’s comment took me a little by surprise. He essentially said, “Our government did very well.” This prompted several personal applications.
First, governments are human, but they are divinely authorized (Romans 13:1). One is serving and obeying God when he submits to the rulers of his nation.
Second, we must “give honor to whom honor is due”
(Romans 13:7, summarized). It is normal for us to be critical of the government when it acts in ways we do not approve of, or when it fails in a time of crisis.
If we do that, however, is it not right and just for us to applaud that same government when it rises to the occasion?
Almost any government, no matter how vile or corrupt, will sometimes do something right. Similarly, almost any government, no matter how wise and beneficent, will occasionally make mistakes.
A third application is the reflection that government action never replaces individual responsibility. In this case, the government provided early warning that enabled people to make adequate preparations.
But it was the individual citizen’s responsibility to make those preparations. If anyone suffered loss because preparations were not made, he had only himself to blame.
This is a point which we all should take to heart. God, through his word, has clearly given us warnings and instructions which will protect us from spiritual storms.
One who reads and obeys the Bible will find it far easier to avoid and resist temptations. When he does, he will find healing and salvation. Preparation will be made for death and judgment. Satan’s lies will be exposed and his threat diminished.
But only if the reader heeds the warnings and obeys the instructions. God’s word points the way to salvation; it does not save apart from our involvement.
Storms are coming. In this world there will always be tornadoes, hurricanes and cyclones. There will also be temptation and sin. Ultimately all will die, and face God in judgment (Hebrews 9:27). We can be prepared, but only if we listen to the warnings.