2 Corinthians 13:10 This is why I write these things when I am absent, that when I come I may not have to be harsh in my use of authority—the authority the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down.
Authority is a strange thing. Some people crave it, some people don’t want it, and many people resent its being exercised over them. However, it’s part of the way the universe is made and organized. We have to understand and accept it to discover and fit into the place God has for us. The Centurion with the sick servant is famous for having understood authority and being commended by Jesus for that. (Luke 7:1-10) In this verse Paul touches on some very important things about authority. In the first place, it is given from above. Even Jesus, in the Great Commission, said that “All authority has been given to me.” (Matthew 28:18) As the Centurion realized, authority operates in a flow. Sometimes people take authority or seize authority, but that can be entirely bogus. The other point that Paul stresses here is that authority is to be constructive, not destructive. We are to operate in the authority of Christ to destroy the works of the devil, certainly, (1 John 3:8) but even that is to set people free and build them up. Too often we treat authority like a stick, and just flail around with it, wounding people left and right. When that happens in the Church, it is a real tragedy.
I’ve always had something of an uneasy relationship to authority myself. I tend to shy away from exercising it, and that certainly doesn’t fulfill the purpose for which it is given. As a teacher in the classroom I have had to learn to exercise authority judiciously, to gain the respect of my students and teach them as I am called to do. As a pastor in this church I am still learning the extent and limits of my authority, and how to use it to extricate believers from the traps of the enemy. More broadly, I feel I have been given authority by God in and over this city, but I am still rather in the dark about that, not knowing what is God’s plan and what is my imagination. In every case, as the Centurion said, I’ve got to be submitted to God’s absolute authority over me before I will be able to exercise properly whatever authority He has assigned to me. Jesus said, “I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:19-20) I will never be able to operate in that authority unless I am submitted to Him. (James 4:7)
Father, thank You for this reminder. I ask for more and more revelation of Your plans for me so that I may fulfill them in every detail, for the blessing of many and for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!