The Purpose of Authority

2 Corinthians 13:10 NIV
“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.”

Paul has made it clear to the Christians at Corinth that while God is giving them a second opportunity to correct their sinful behavior, real lifestyle changes are expected (see 2 Corinthians 13:1-2). Paul has made it equally clear that he is writing so that these corrections can be made before he next sees them so that he does not have to have a heavy hand with them (see verses 2 and 10).

As a minister, my understanding of God-given authority is greatly enriched by Paul’s comments about authority in verse 10. Paul understands that God gave him authority so that he might build-up people, not tear them down.

Eugene Peterson renders it this way:
2 Corinthians 13:10 MSG
“I’m writing this to you now so that when I come I won’t have to say another word on the subject. The authority the Master gave me is for putting people together, not taking them apart. I want to get on with it, and not have to spend time on reprimands.”

All of us who God has called to church leadership roles need to consider why God gives leaders authority and how we use that authority.

As I prayed through this passage of scripture today. . .

  • I prayed that my ministry will be proactive as is Paul’s ministry in this text
  • I prayed that my ministry will focus on putting people together
  • I prayed that the times I issue heavy reprimands will be exceptions rather than the normal course of my ministry
  • I prayed that God would forgive me for times I misused His authority by taking people apart

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