“Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.” (1 Peter 2:13-14)
Most of us are taught from a very young age that to go against authority brings punishment in some form or another. Whether it is by our parents, teachers, or even the playground hierarchy; when we do wrong, we are made to know it.
And rightly so; “Faithful are the wounds of a friend…” (Proverbs 27:6).
I want the people that God has placed into my life to correct me when I’m wrong. At times, I need to be pointed in the right direction. But I also, equally need praise, or encouragement.
God is a God of Balance. While He is a God of War; He is also the Prince of Peace. While He is a righteous God of Justice; He is also a gracious Giver of Mercy. While He is the Alpha; He is also the Omega.
Notice the two parts of verse 14 in our text verses: “…for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.”
We as individuals, as well as society as a whole, seem to have gotten this verse out of balance.
A friend pointed out to me the other day, while watching the world news, how every story focused on what was going wrong in the world. It was a full hour of negative reinforcement. To their credit, they did show a five-minute segment at the end of the program titled ‘The Bright Spot.’ But is that really all the good there is?
There is no wonder why the saying ‘the squeaky wheel gets the grease’ even exists. Humans tend to harp on “the punishment of evildoers”; and the expense of the “the praise of them that do well.”
A pastor faithfully leads his flock for years, with hardly a word of thanks or encouragement. He then may make one wrong choice, perhaps has a moment of indiscretion; and he is suddenly the talk of the town.
A whore washes the feet of Jesus with her tears, and anoints them with expensive oil. Men ridicule her for being wasteful.
A wife dutifully cooks dinner every night of a twenty-year marriage without even a look of gratitude from her husband. She undercooks one chicken dinner; and faces his ruthless indignation.
The husband works hard every day to provide for his family; only to go unappreciated.
For years, you support a friend with words of encouragement; only to have the friendship end over one slip of the tongue.
Why don’t we try a different approach? Why not balance punishment with praise? If God has placed us in a position to mete out a judgment, let’s temper it with grace:
“For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” (Matthew 7:2)
Instead of only pointing out the negative in those around us, let’s begin to use words which are:
“…good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” (Ephesians 4:29)
Instead of only tearing down, let’s also build up:
“Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty (Why? Because He is a God of Balance):” (Job 5:17)
“For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole.” (Job 5:18)