Civil Government

They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” Then He said to them, “Then render to Caesar  the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.” - (Matthew 22:21)

Did you know that civil government in the Bible was designed to be small, not large? Its reach was meant to be limited, not all-encompassing. The reason is that in the Bible, civil government is not the whole show. It is only one of four God-ordained governments, along with the individual, family, and the church. Simply stated, the biblical role of civil government is to maintain a safe, just, and righteous environment for freedom to flourish. Biblically, civil government is supposed to spend its time and energy removing tyranny from the marketplace and producing harmony in society—in other words, promoting and administering justice, protecting law-abiding citizens, and punishing the lawless.

Civil government is designed to make sure that fairness operates in such areas as business relationships. Government should see to it that men are not allowed to do evil and bring injustice into society. If you are expecting the civil government to do for you what God says you are to do for yourself, that is a misuse and misappropriation of civil government.

The job of the civil government is to maintain justice, protect freedom, and defend its citizens. In Scripture, the government has virtually no authority in education, business, welfare, or ecclesiastical affairs, except to make sure that there are no injustices and the market is free from tyranny and discrimination.

One of the biblical things the government eventually did do in America was to intervene in the injustices of racism and segregation in the South. That was a biblical role of government because injustice and tyranny were involved.

Reflection: How do we often get the roles of civil government, family, and the church mixed up? Have you found yourself misunderstanding the proper role of any of the four types of government? How can we encourage the proper authorities in our lives as they carry out their duties?

Holy God, help our government to maintain justice, protect freedom, and defend us as its citizens. Give wisdom in all things, and direct those who govern us so that they may govern well.

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