(Read Romans 13:1-14)
This is a rich passage. It deals with our responsibilities to the governing authorities that have been instituted by God, as well as our responsibilities (debts) to others. And finally it offers the reason why these things are so important.
So we have a responsibility to submit to our governing authorities. Do you have a hard time with that?
If so, let us remember that in submitting to the governing authorities we are submitting to God who placed them over us.
Sometimes the governing authorities are not that nice, and they do not always stand for what we believe. However, God did not tell us to submit to them because they are worthy of submission. Rather God told us to submit because those in authority over us have been placed there by God and His authority.
And that is what we see in the book of Daniel. Right away in the first verses of the first chapter, we see God placing Nebuchadnezzar in authority over His own people. And we see Daniel and his friends submitting themselves to the king's authority as long as the king does not ask them to betray the LORD.
So no matter how difficult it may be, we are called to submit to authority (even paying taxes, revenue, respect, and honor - see Romans 13:7). Yet our responsibility to the governing authorities is only the beginning.
Our responsibility to others is to "love one another". This is the debt that ought to always remain outstanding (for all you trivia buffs like me). The debt to love is something we always owe to everyone. And Paul adds it is the summary of the law.
But why? Why should we submit to authority and continue to love one another? Paul gives us the answer in verse 11.
"And do this understanding the present time."
The present time is the time of salvation that is nearer now than when we first believed. The time is growing short. This world is not our home, and soon Jesus will return and make all things new. Jesus is the true King of kings, and He will assert His authority over all things on that great day!
But for now, we are called to submit, to love, to clothe ourselves with Jesus, and in everything to trust God. He will fulfill His promise, and He will renew all things and we will see Him "face to face".
Oh glorious day!