Lesson 8 -- second quarter 1996
April 21, 1996
by Mark Roth
© Copyright 1996, Christian Light Publications
What is the purpose of authority?
How can I be a model sheep?
Did you ever wish for authority? I did. I've even had it. By my twenty-eighth birthday, I had born the "badges" of husband, parent, teacher, principal, missionary pastor and mission field director. Looks like lots of authority.
Humans like authority. We like to tell others what to do. We like the control over others. We like to make things happen as we think they should happen. Alas, we so easily forget the purpose of authority! Look in our text for demonstrations of these simple truths:
Authority means responsibility. Authority enables the fulfillment of responsibility. Therefore, authority is a means, not an end. Furthermore, authority increases accountability. James 3:1 states the case very clearly, "My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation." Authority, responsibility, accountability--separate them at your own risk!
Authority means submission. No one but God derives authority from himself. "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God" (Romans 13:1). Centuries ago, a Roman centurion recognized the submission of authority, saying simply, "For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me" (Matthew 8:9). How ironic that many who want to be in authority do not want to be under authority!
Authority means service. Rendering, not receiving! Jesus had to invert our natural understanding of authority in this area: "But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant" (Matthew 23:11). Whom God puts in authority, He puts in service. Therefore, authority militates against the pursuit of selfish interests!
Perhaps now you are not so keen on possessing and exercising authority! That's OK, for now; work on being a sheep of the Shepherd. What's more, stretch for the goal of being a model sheep (1 Corinthians 11:1; 1 Timothy 4:12; Titus 2:7).
The sheep hear His voice. In this busy time of life with its multiplied distractions, keep the wax scooped out of your spiritual ears! You got ears hooked on to the sides of your head? Use them and you will be blessed (Matthew 11:15; 13:16)! Learn to listen to the Shepherd at the beginning of the day, through the day, and at the end of the day.
The sheep follow Him. Study His life to see how you ought to live. Pay attention to His voice so you know how to obey and please Him. Keep Him in sight so you don't lose the Way. When did you last read the Bible looking for something specific to live that day? If you concentrate on following the Shepherd, the side trails of fad, fashion and flesh will pose less of a problem to you
They know His voice. Only because they hear it and follow Him. Attentive obedience is the only route to familiarity with the Shepherd and His voice.
They know not the voice of strangers. Hearing something different than the Shepherd's voice, they flee. They follow only the voice they know.
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