“Nobody ever outgrows Scripture; the book widens and deepens with our years.” -Charles Spurgeon
Scripture & Devotion: Scriptural focus: 1 Timothy 2:1-6
I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men – the testimony given in its proper time.
Testimony in its proper time
Requests, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving: these are important parts of the Christian life. We ask God to supply our needs or for things that we believe are in keeping with his will for our lives. We pray as a part of our worship and in order to continue to grow in relationship with God or to intercede on behalf of others who are hurting or who perhaps cannot do so for themselves. We give thanks in prayer to communicate our gratitude for the blessings of every day.
In this passage, the apostle Paul specifically asks that we pray for “kings and all those in authority.” This is remarkable, since, when Paul wrote this letter, the Emperor of Rome was Nero, whose cruelty earned him a place as one of history’s most notoriously ruthless tyrants. (You remember Nero: he was the one who blamed the Christians for starting the fire that destroyed much of Rome in A.D. 64, the one who had Christians burned and butchered as “entertainment” and fed to animals as a public spectacle.) Regardless of our political persuasions or how we may feel about those who are in positions of power, Paul tells us that we should pray for our leaders. Why? So that “We may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”
Peaceful and quiet lives. Even in this time of staying at home and attempting to avoid the pandemic, life does not feel very “peaceful and quiet.” We watch the news on television or read the newspaper and see that there is much anxiety, sorrow, grief, and unrest in our country and in our world. For many, the injustices of many years continue to find expression in acts of violence and aggression that seem about as far from “godliness and holiness” as it is possible to get. Our leaders are faced with unprecedented challenges on many fronts. Those in authority - our national, state and local governments, our law enforcement personnel, our medical and scientific communities – are hard-pressed to deal effectively with the day-to-day demands of their jobs, let alone the extraordinary circumstances in which we now find ourselves.
The truth that Paul so eloquently expresses in this passage of scripture is that God wants all men to be saved. All. Even the leaders with whom we may not agree or whose politics we may not like. Even the protestors who deface buildings and destroy property. Even those who don’t believe in him or acknowledge his existence as creator of the universe. I confess, this is hard for me to accept at times. To be honest, I would prefer that everyone be “nice” and “well-behaved” that those who are not should suffer some kind of consequence. But then, I remember that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and also that, in God’s eyes, all human beings are precious. All. Jesus gave himself as a ransom for everyone, for presidents and police and pundits and protestors and prostitutes as well as for me. He is the only mediator between God and humankind, and my responsibility as a Christian is to give testimony to this fact by living and speaking and acting in ways that demonstrate that I believe it.
Now, and always, is the “proper time” for Jesus.
Thank You, Lord, for your grace to weave our story into Your greater story, that we can bring glory to You in everything.