THE REASON FOR GOVERNMENT
God has instituted human government for two primary reasons: to restrain the wicked and to reward the worthy. Paul has written:
2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.
3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.
4 For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. (Romans 13:2-4)
The negative dimension for God ordained government is TO RESTRAIN THE WICKED. There is an argument over whether you can or cannot legislate morality. There are points to be made on each side. Every law is a legislation of morality in the sense that it says there is a conduct that is bad, and therefore, a conduct that is good. But the other side is, that such laws cannot impose morality, but really are legislation against immorality. Law cannot make us good—only God can make us good, but law can help restrain the evil. A law can’t make you love your neighbor, but it can tell you not to kill them. A law can’t make you honest, but it can tell you not to steal. The government authority has powers of punishment to enforce those laws. Sadly, our legal system has become a place for coddling criminals rather than convicting them! Such government has abandoned the reason it exists!
The positive dimension of God appointed government is TO REWARD THE WORTHY. While it is true that government can’t make us good, it can provide motivation for good behavior by rewarding it. Our military gives medals for those who distinguish themselves in service. The Congress has special citations for those who contribute much to the well-being of society. One of the ways government rewards productivity is financial incentive. But ours is doing just the opposite, punishing the successful and bailing out the failing!
Government works best when it does these two things—when it is limited in scope and laser-like in focus. When it goes beyond those bounds, it becomes an oppressive system. Our founders said it well in the preamble to the United States Constitution, that government exists to, “provide for the common defense” and to “promote the general Welfare.” The founding fathers were so wise—they didn’t say, to “provide the general welfare” but to “promote” it. We have become a nation bogged down and bankrupted by bureaucracy in the attempt to provide welfare for every citizen—an impossibility! The common defense is provided by restraining those who do wickedly and the general welfare is promoted by rewarding those who do well. That’s reasonable—and it’s biblical! Too bad most politicians don’t understand that today, and the tragedy is that too few American voters know enough to vote those in who do understand and vote out those who don’t.