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The Christian is a Model Citizen

15/07/2017

The Model Citizen

Text . Romans 13:7-10

Last study in this chapter we noticed tht the Christian would be a model citizen.  He would always do his best to keep the law of the land, obeying the civil magistrate and paying his taxes.

  • Christians will obey the law of the land. V3 do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
  • Christians will keep a clear conscience in respect of the law. V5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
  • Christians will pay their tax bill! Acknowledging that to do so is in fact an act of obedience to God, to contribute to the overall good of society, to pay for our hospitals and our security.  Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom;
  • Christians will give honour to the king! And sing the national anthem! fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

We also learned that there was one particular instance when the Christian was not just entitled to disobey the government, but also was required to do so – and that is when the government hinders or forbids the free preaching of the Gospel, or indeed enacts legislation that is contrary to the Gospel, as we learned in our reading of Acts 4.  In such a case the believer MUST obey God and not man.

There are two particular aspects of the Christian life and witness that Paul singles out for particular attention:-

  1. Finance. Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.

The Christian will pay his way. One of the biggest challenges that Christians face is honesty and integrity where finance and money are concerned.    This falls into two broad categories:-

  • Public liabilities. What we owe to the state.  Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom;     In fact Paul is specific.  Let’s just see how onerous these taxes were…
    • Tribute. The taxes imposed by the Roman State.  All races who had been subjugated by Rome were required to pay tribute.  These included a ground tax, paid in cash or in kind, – 10% of all fruit and wine produced on their land.  The income tax, which was 1% of a man’s income, and a poll tax, payable by everyone aged between 14 and 65.
    • Customs. These were the local taxes.  (Like our rates bills)  Customs duties, road taxes, toll bridge taxes, entry fees for markets, tax for the right to own an animal, tax to drive a cart or wagon…

Paul insists that no matter how much paying taxes annoys us, it is something that we MUST do as Christians.  It is part of our Christian responsibility to be a model citizen.

  • Private liabilities. We are to owe no man anything!  That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t take out a loan, or borrow money or get a mortgage.  It mwans that when we owe money, and when repayment is due, the model citizen/Christian will always pay on time, just when asked to do so

 

  1. Neighbourliness. 10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Last week I said that Christian must be the very best neighbour possible.  How can we show love to our neighbours if we are remote from them, or consider ourselves better than them?    

  • Redemptive Liabilities. This is the greatest debt of all.  We are to pay our debts to our rulers and to our neighbours.  We are to have a reputation for fiscal honesty.  But don’t think that’s the end of the matter.  In the context of this financial instruction, Paul tells us that our greatest debt that we owe is the debt of love!  Owe no man any thing, but to love one another.  We have a massive debt of love that we need to pay!  It is the love we have received in Christ, and we repay it by loving others as he has loved us.
    • It is a permanent debt! We will never be able to consider it to be repaid, or exhausted.
    • It is a daily debt. There must not be a day that passes when we do not consider this debt, and attempt to pay it off in our consideration and goodness to others.
    • It is a restraining debt! 10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. When we learn to love one another unconditionally, we must, by consequence fulfil the law of God.  Paul takes us over the second table of the law and shows us how love will help us to live lives pleasing to God…
  • Fornication. Thou shalt not commit adultery,
  • Theft. Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal,
  • Honesty. Thou shalt not bear false witness,
  • Jealousy. Thou shalt not covet.

If you want a quick lesson on the law here it is.   ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.’   This vast debt of love that we owe to others, will overwhelm us and when truly applied to their wellbeing will put others first, and never knowingly harm them.

  • It is a forgiving debt. A debt of love that forgives others, no matter what they have done on us.  ‘Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.’

There is a redemptive aspect to such a debt of love, properly and willingly repaid.

 

So: If we want to show Christ’s love to others around us, we will do so by being model citizens, paying our debts and long our neighbours.

Bob McEvoy July 2017

From → Bible Study, Romans

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