Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Role Of Government

Romans 13:3-4 provides a concise summary of the role of government:

"For rulers are not a cause for fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil."

Note that government workers are called "ministers of God" not once, but twice. This term also means "servants" of God. All governments are put in place by God and all government workers are ministers of God, putting them in a very special place and giving them serious responsibilities both to God and the people they serve. But this also makes sense, since all goverments are from God, then those representing the government are, in a way, representing God's will.

I find it interesting that some of the requirements for government service, in the early years of America's history, where that those in government positions be Christians. Our founding fathers understood what the Bible says about government workers being "ministers of God" and they wanted to help ensure wise choices where made for government service.

Let's look at the list of the three roles of government from yesterday, but I'll say them in a different way.

1. Punish wrongdoers - it is very clear from Romans 13:4 that government is to punish those who do wrong

2. Restrain evil - Romans 13:4 tells those who do evil that they should be afraid and notes that the government wields the sword (weapons) to be used against those who do evil. The way government restrains evil is by putting fear in the hearts of wrongdoers. This, of course, means that if they are not restraine by fear (the best option) then #1 above applies and it is the government's responsibility to punish those who do wrong.

3. Promote good - this means to treat citizens, who are doing good, in a just and fair manner. For example, government should be protecting the legitimate rights people have.

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