Posted on February 15th, 2016 by Eli Thomas in Know Christ
I have grown up knowing the third Monday of February as President’s Day. Many of you may recall that at one time it was exclusively the celebration of George Washington’s birthday but in the 1960’s things started changing so that today, very few are even aware that today is still officially recognized as the birthday of our first president. As I was walking down Pioneer street this morning, watching the flags that line the road for blocks flutter in the breeze, it got me thinking that whether we hold to this day as honoring a single president, or instead choose to expand it to incorporate other leaders of our nation, one thing that will benefit all of us is to remember what God’s Word says on the matter of those who stand in political leadership.
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:1-4
We have had 44 presidents in the more than 200 years of our nation’s existence. As we expanded from the Atlantic to the Pacific, states were formed and local governments established. We have had countless men and women serve in leadership roles from the national stage to small town mayors. Some have been good, others not so much. Today, Americans will argue the value and worth of the man who sits in the White House, some cheering his actions, others eagerly anticipating his departure. But today I am reminded that no matter who sits in leadership over us, God calls upon us to lift them up in prayer. Though they may not be godly men and women, our leaders still have a heavenly mandate and as followers of Christ we must remember that it is not just our duty to them, but of benefit to each of us as well.
Paul encourages us to make supplications, intercessions, prayers, and thanksgivings for all people, including those who are in leadership. He does not make this conditional, it is not based on whether we like them or not, whether we agree with their policy decisions or not, instead, we are to lift them up because it is good and pleasing in the sight of God. As a result of our prayers for those who lead us, Paul says we do this so that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.
These prayers are as much for us as they are for our leaders. We are to have compassion and caring for others, no matter who they are, no matter the sins they commit, no matter how many reasons we have to exclude them from our prayer life. An interesting thing to note, Paul writes this letter to Timothy at a time when political leadership was far worse than we experience today. Political leaders often encouraged persecution, arrests, even ordered the deaths of those who worshiped Christ. Out of all the apostles, John is the only one to have died of natural causes, all the others were put to death by political leaders. And yet Paul encourages the Christ followers of his time to pray for their leaders.
This is my challenge to you on this President’s Day. Pray for your leaders. Lift them up to God, pray for them with compassion and mercy. Don’t let your prayers in their name become curses, but instead lift them up with a genuine heart, and give thanks, for as Paul writes in Romans 13:1, …there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Good or bad, our leaders are authority instituted by God, and they deserve our love.