November 28

Authority, Part 6: Delegated Authority

Romans 13:1-2 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.

Hebrews 13:17 Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.

It doesn’t require a great deal of humility to be obedient to God’s direct authority, or to the authority of His word. When His Spirit deals with us directly, His direction (once we humble ourselves enough to receive it) is clear. His Word is also usually clear enough to even the most stubborn hearts; even those not inclined to submit to His word usually know what they are rebelling against.

But it requires another level of humility and understanding of how God works to just as easily submit to His delegated authorities. It’s quite easy to provide our own minds and hearts with reasons why anything coming through people can be taken with a grain of salt, “taken into consideration,” received as an opinion, or simply ignored. People aren’t perfect and they never will be on this side of the grave. So the heart that’s not inclined to obey God will always have a good reason not to receive from people.

But it’s His sovereign plan to grant people His authority, and to use that authority (and therefore, those people) in our lives. Even Jesus acknowledged and worked with this authority. When Jesus didn’t answer Pilate’s question about where He was from in John 19, “Pilate said to Him, ‘Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?’ [And] Jesus answered, ‘You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.’”

As Jesus noted here, all power (that includes authority) was from above. We need to recognize that. As the sovereign God, He gets to choose how He is going to use people to guide, help and encourage us. If we are open to His Spirit, we won’t care about the vessel He uses; we’ll just be grateful to the Source that He has chosen to speak to us. Even if the (admittedly imperfect) person isn’t the perfect vessel for the message (or, truth be told, we’d rather not receive anything through that vessel), that’s a challenge to our pride that the Lord wants to add to whatever word He is delivering to us.

If we have “eyes to see,” we’ll see that no person has inherent authority in him- or herself anyway, and we’ll see that if we are willing, we will be able to trace the authority chain from that person all the way to our loving Lord. In recognizing that the authority we are being asked to submit to is actually from God, and in submitting to that authority, we are honoring God. In response, He will honor us in that obedience.

Prayer: Father, I confess that I sometimes don’t want You to use certain people or certain kinds of people to bring Your word to me. I sometimes have problems being directed by people. Help me to see that this is Your plan, and that I am blessing You by submitting to Your authority in others.