Think About IT: The Proper Exercise of Authority

Authority without submission is the stuff of which tyranny is made.

Before a person can exercise godly authority as a leader in the home, church, or culture, he must learn how to be under authority (Titus 2:1–14). Godly servant leadership is developed in the context of learning how to be under authority. This includes learning how to support the leader even when we might disagree about the how or why of the leader’s decisions.

Supporting the authority of the person over us only when we agree with his or her decision is easy and requires little humility. The development of humble leadership is nurtured when the future leader follows with respect and diligence in those times when he would do it differently if he was in authority.

Even following the leadership of someone who is rude, condescending, and arrogant can result in the essential tutelage for becoming a servant leader. It provides the follower with a poignant picture of how ugly leadership without humility and servanthood really is. This experience can serve to make a follower into a true godly servant leader because he knows firsthand the unnecessary hurt inflicted upon others and how such undermines respect for the leader who so leads.

I have had such an experience. It was over thirty years ago, and it is still my most powerful experiential reminder to seek to lead others in humility and respect. As unpalatable as the experience was, I would not take anything for what I learned from being under such objectionable leadership. It taught me that godly leadership is really a priceless quality of exercising authority.

“Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many”” (Matthew 20:28).

 

 

Think About IT: Humility In Knowledge

Christians should know that however much more we believe we know than others, we really know so little in comparison to what some know, what we shall learn, or what can be known. We should always seek to know more and know what we know better. But being aware of the vastness of what we do not know is equally important, and even more so for the sake of humility.

Awareness of proportional knowledge bears the fruit of humility, whereas awareness of only what we know so well bears the fruit of pride. The latter is an ugly portrayal of Christ with its concomitant boasting and judgmental insensitivity, but the former nurtures a life of learning and teaching with respect and kindness.

“Thus says the Lord, ‘Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches’” Jeremiah 9:23.

Think About IT: Expressing Our Desires Not Demands!

Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane reflects the heart of a true servant of the Father. He knew that He, as a man, merited heaven. As the God-man, He knew there were myriads of angels awaiting His command.

He also knew full well what awaited Him at the Cross. It was not the taunts, flogging, and degradation of man that caused Him to pray in the dirt and sweat drops of blood. Rather, it was those hours He would be abandoned by the Father and hurled into the cauldron of God’s judgment for the sins of the world. The price exacted for sin in those hours could not have been paid by man, even if every human suffered God’s judgment of hell forever.

Jesus knew His options and prayed His desire to the Father to “let this cup pass.” And yet, with the hallowedness of heaven and the hell of the cross before Him, He willingly chose the Father’s will above everything else, “yet not as I will but as you will.”

This was not passive resignation or a mere prayer formula, but the prayer of total trust. Like Jesus, we should make our petitions known to God with total trust in God’s granting, delaying, or withholding.

When we pray, the very requests that we make may well be God’s best for us. He may answer that prayer and work in ways that he would not have had we not made our requests known to him.

Just as Jesus did, we should always make our requests known for that is the will of God (Matt 6: 11-13). Additionally, we should always pray remembering that our  prayers are never more powerful than when expressed in reverence and total trust. Demanding prayer is “my will be done; trusting prayer is “your will be done”. Demanding prayer reaches the ceiling, whereas trusting prayer reaches the heart of our heavenly Father.

“And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will’” (Matthew 26:39).

Think About IT: How to Lose by Winning

I must ALWAYS be right

Such firmness whether witting or unwitting assures the loss of respect and love by others. This unspoken resolve leaves spouses and children deeply wounded, sometimes for life.

Although I cannot imagine a Christian actually uttering such words, one’s consistent arguing of his point until all objectors have given in painfully reveals such a mindset to those with whom he speaks. It is evident by the need to have all agree with you or have the last word.

Often those who disagree become silent and appear to have given in. Far too often, they have actually given up, and silence and emotional detachment become their hiding place.

This kind of winning with family and friends often results in everyone losing, especially the “winner.”

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;” (Romans 12:10).

Do Not Forget To Remember

It is not new knowledge that we reject, for we should always be growing in the knowledge of the Lord. Rejecting new knowledge is the failure of traditionalism. Nor do we reject what has been known for years, decades, or even centuries from what God has revealed in His Word because of some superficial changes in culture, for that is the failure of ‘new is better’ mentality. Rather we embrace knowledge that allows us to continually grow deeper in our understanding of God’s person, will, and ways so that we can honor Him with all of our being. This knowledge comes from learning the Scripture in order to live the Scripture. It is kept fresh by remembering. Continue reading →

Think About IT: Loving God and Not His Word

Many speak of loving God but exhibit minimal or no concern to know the Scripture. They may be disinterested or even caviler about learning the Scripture. Their reverence for the Scripture is romantic rather than actual. Their interest in being taught the Scripture is limited to whatever practical value it has as a How To book rather than a book calling them to a radical life of self-denial and submission to Christ. A life of serving.

Their claim of loving God does not include a love for God’s word. But a person cannot truly love the God of Scripture without loving the Scripture of God.

Seeking to love and follow God apart from loving to hear from Him through His Word is more characteristic of a lost person than a devoted follower of Christ.

“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” John 14:15

Think about IT: Christianity without Truth or Love

Christianity without truth is not Christianity, and Christianity without love misrepresents Christ to both Christians and the lost world.

Two of the greatest threats to Christianity are lies and loveless disciples. I am not referring to the lies told about Christianity by the enemies of Christ or the world, but rather the lies spoken by those who don the title Christian.

Jesus is the Truth (John 14:6), and the Holy Spirit guides us into truth by teaching us the Truth of Scripture (John 17:17). If we as Christians expect to walk with Christ, and influence the world for Christ, we must speak truth in the significant and public areas as well as the mundane and private areas (Eph 4:15). For reasons unique to each, I have found the challenge of each of these to be impossible apart from living in the presence of Christ (Eph 5: 1-2, 18).

The world’s hatred of the followers of Christ will never destroy the work or testimony of the church, for this was well predicted (John15:18-19). Rather, it is the spirit of hate, jealousy, bitterness, revenge, immoralities, and divisiveness, all of which emanate from the carnal mind and unrestrained flesh that destroys the work of the church (1 Cor 3:3; Gal 5: 19-21). For such prohibits the world from seeing Christ in His people (1 Pet 2: 21-23). The world not only needs to hear the truth about Christ; they desperately need to see the truth of Christ in changed lives.

Our enemy’s greatest endeavors to destroy the work of Christ in and through us is by God’s grace an extraordinary opportunity to show Christ most movingly.

“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” Matthew 5:44.

 

Think About IT: The Losses of Trusting Christ

Salvation is free, but the life of faith can be costly indeed!

The history of Christianity is one of untold sacrifice by countless followers of Christ. They have given their lives in the darkest parts of the globe to share the gospel, stood and spoken the truth in love in loveless times, carried the burdens of others so that others may know Christ, and given time, money, talents, and security to be used in advancing the kingdom.

We are the beneficiaries of a myriad of Christians who lived their lives so that others might benefit. Their focus was on what they could do by the power of Christ for others.

In tragic contrast today, a growing number of those who claim to be followers of Christ are intently eager to evaluate how much God loves them by how much He gives them.

We should ask, are we any better than Christians who preceded us, more valuable to God or more righteous or more deserving? No, a thousand times no! We are called, just as Christ called them, to live so that others might know Christ.

“And others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect” Hebrews 11:36–40.

Think About IT: Confronting the Sins of Others

Many years ago, a man told me that if I ever needed someone to go to a person in the church who was in sin, he was more than willing to go. He said, “that type of situation does not bother me; I do not mind having to rebuke a brother for his sin.”

He may have thought it strange that I never called on him, but it is really not so strange. I would rather call on someone who finds dealing with a brother in sin difficult and quite humbling. It seems to me that not being bothered by such a task is an immediate disqualifier.

Anyone can rebuke a Christian for his or her sin, but it takes a mature spiritual Christian to give a godly rebuke with a heart for restoration. A true heart for the restoration of a brother includes a willingness to be intimately involved in the process and a keen awareness of our own propensity to be overtaken by sin.

“Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted” Galatians 6:1.

Think About IT: Unity without Unity

We dare not confuse divine unity with organizational unity.

Christians are one in Christ, which does not require the existence of organizational unity (John 17: 11, 22-22). The mere reality of different churches or even denominations is not necessarily demonstrative of disunity. This is because our unity is not derived from an organization but our relationship to Christ, the head of the church (Eph. 5:23). Continue reading →