1Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
5Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.
7Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
Romans 13:1-2,5,7 (NIV)
Since joining the workaday world, this passage has bothered me every time I’ve encountered it.
As an IT professional, I get to see the seemier side of the corporate world and I’m often exposed to my superiors’ flaws in fairly evident ways. There are many, many intelligent people that I work with that, on average, generate some of the most idiotic and inane trouble tickets you could possibly think of. In such a situation, I tend to get frustrated and more than a little scornful of my superiors.
When this happens, God seems to have a way of pointing me back to Romans 13 and reminding me that, regardless of my personal feelings on the matter, managers, etc. are, in fact, owed respect simply by merit of their position. God has placed them there for a reason and it’s incredibly unjust of me to think of them as idiots or incompetents and to view their actions through that prism. (They may, in fact, be idiots and incompetents, but that’s none of my concern).
It’s then my responsibility to do my job and to give them the respect and honor they are owed. This can be tough, since it offends my very self-righteous Self (“Why do I have to respect idiots? Why can’t they see their own incompetence? What right do they have to be calling my skills into question?”), but it’s not my place to do otherwise.
All of this is easy to say, but it’s incredibly hard to implement. I guess that’s why Romans 13 keeps coming up: to remind me of my place and to encourage me to be striving to live up to that ideal.