Devotionals
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October 15, 2017, 5:00 AM

The way we think about authority is inextricably linked to how we think about God.


Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.  Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.  In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage; rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross! Philippians 2:3-8

 

As of late, with all the things going on in my life, parenting a high school kid has been a mammoth challenge.  As much as he was excited about high school, the reality of an early alarm, the need to spend long periods of time doing homework, while fine at school, he comes home and unloads his frustrations on everyone around him.   To say this has been a challenge of my patience is a monumental understatement. Some days I preach to myself, “Remain calm.  Be king and loving yet clear about my authority and expectations.”  Other days, I can only muster, “Jesus, help me!”   And sometimes, regretfully, I have given myself over to the frustration and found myself jumping on her crazy-train, becoming angry and threatening my hand. But the truth is, if at any particular moment the only power I have over my children are my hands, then I really have nothing at all.

 

Where do we draw our motivation for surrendering to the authority of God?  If it is fear of a heavy hand looming over us, we are missing the essence of what it means to live under His authority and in a real, active relationship with Him.  In the short-term it may control our behavior but it has no sustaining power to shape our hearts.  I think this is why Jesus set aside His power and control when He walked the earth.  He knew that the motivation of obedience springs from a relationship.  Scripture teaches us that He “Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage; rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant.” Jesus could have asserted His authority yet He humbled Himself and set aside His privilege, power, and control to the point of death.  Most people grasp desperately to hold onto to those very things, but Christ is asking us to let them go.

 

His authority was not demonstrated through threat and coercion but through humbleness, servanthood, and considering others as better than Himself.  These values make up the foundation of a healthy and God-honoring relationship. He had every right to assert power and control, yet He chose not to.  He was teaching that our motivation for obedience must flow from a deeper well.  An attempt to keep (or enforce) rules will prove hollow without the reliance on a relationship.  As we come to understand more about the ways of God in the Bible, we can see that He values freedom.  He never intended our robotic obedience but asks for our deep-rooted trust in His will and rule.  As we grow in our relationships, we will see that the more we are willing to submit to the rule of God the more we will experience the peace of God.

 

The way we think about authority is inextricably linked to how we think about God. If our understanding of authority has been shaped through coercion, threat, and control, then our temptation is to see God in the same way and to use our authority in the same manner. We carry forth a God-given mission to reflect God’s image.  Claiming Christ is a large responsibility because He desires that we model what it means to live under His rule upon the earth.  He has given us authority over our lives, our bodies, our affections, and our little corners of the world.  How will we use it?  Will we use it to exalt ourselves beyond our places as creatures of God or will we follow Christ and use it to exalt others, exalt our Creator, and the values of His kingdom?

 

This is my Prayer: Father God, help me to wisely use the authority You have given me. Lord help me to stop seeing authority as a way of controlling behavior. Jesus help me to see it as a way to empower others, especially my children, to live free and full. In Your name, Amen. 


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