“Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.” (Titus 3:1-3)
“And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, 'God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Are you sitting to judge me according to the law, and yet contrary to the law you order me to be struck?' Those who stood by said, 'Would you revile God's high priest?' And Paul said, 'I did not know, brothers, that he was the high priest, for it is written, “You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.”'” (Acts 23:2-5)
“But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” (Matthew 5:22)
Surrounded by the vitriol on both the right and left these days, the temptation to be drawn in is strong. This is made all the easier when we are genuinely concerned about the activities and policies of our governing authorities.
Considering the Apostle Paul’s low view of the Cretans, we may take heart that he would have understood the political landscape of our day. In the midst of “liars, evil beasts, and lazy gluttons” his definition for obedience and good work is for us to show perfect courtesy toward all people. Notice the standard for courtesy and the absence of any qualifiers on “all”.
But, our reaction is that these folk do not fight fair. True. John the Baptist suffered at the hands of Herod. Paul literally took it on the chin unjustly at the feckless request of the high priest. Surrounded by mocking leaders, our Savior prayed for those gathered at the foot of cross. Because we no longer hate, Paul commands us to fight unconventionally. In Timothy 2:24-25, Paul concludes that God’s servant must “patiently endure evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness so that God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth.”