“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; But when a wicked man rules, the people groan.”(Proverbs 29:2 NKJV).
Let’s face it: there are many weak-willed people around us who need continuous guidance and correction (2 Timothy 3:6-7). In my observation, such people always need the approval of others in order to be more comfortable with their decisions and choices. This has unfortunately led to mistreatment of such people financially, emotionally and spiritually.
Brethren, we must also remember that life have been so design to allow for the measure of control and authority (Genesis 1:28; 3:16). The Lord told me that how we exercise this duty is largely dependent on how we would like to be treated if we place ourselves in the other's position (Matthew 7:12) and we must also remember that what we dish out to others that same will be returned to us (Matthew 7:2; Luke 6:38). The solution is, exercise control and authority fairly, with love, respect and kindness and not out of feelings of hatred and malice (James 2:1-4) considering that our Judge, Christ will give us the same measure we used in our dealings with people created in His image, BE CAREFUL HOW YOU TREAT OTHERS!
Short Vision of Undue Coercion
In a very short vision this morning (July 20, 2015), I was shown a young lady speaking on her cell phone with a man. I could not hear their conversation, but the Lord made me understand that she was blackmailing him. What I further understood is that she was angrily demanding of him to do something for her and if he would not, she would take some action against him. The Lord said we should include this type of power play in our article, and that many Christians are guilty of this kind of sin. This is the power game people play over others, and it leads to people doing things under duress, pressure and distress.
Brethren, the Lord has shown us that when He ministered to people, He never demanded their respect or gratitude; instead He allowed people to respond spontaneously (Luke 17:11-18). This kind of action has nothing to do with a contractual obligation; the Lord is referring to things we do for others freely without expecting something in return (Luke 6:35; Matthew 5:25).
In this article, we are going look at authority and controlling others from a Biblical perspective. I will also share how the Lord responded to brethren who demanded submission while trying to control others. All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18). He is the good shepherd and by His authority, He died and rose again that we may have eternal life (John 10:14-18).
God’s Teaching on Family Authority
In an address to the Corinthians Church, the apostle Paul rebuked and discouraged the brethren against those who were going about using their influence of Scriptural knowledge to control how people should live in relation to their commitment to the Lord (1 Corinthians 9:12). Likewise, there are some marriage relationships where a spouse deems themselves stronger spiritually; they may try to control how the other spouse should pray, read the Bible, and witness for example. Although these are good things to encourage one another in, it can become toilsome to the person being “forced” to do it (2 Corinthians 9:7). In other words, the conviction from the Holy Spirit as a result of the gospel should govern us to discern the way of truth instead of someone else burdening it upon us (John 16:13).
Briefly, to every truly born again Christian, the truth of the Bible holds authority over our lives and conscience. What I mean by this is that we simply submit our will to the Lord and consciously follow and allow His Word to control our actions and attitudes, while strongly believing by faith that such a submission leads to God’s approval and ultimately His blessings (Deuteronomy 28:1-2; Psalm 119:133). Since God is Supreme and superior to us, He educates our conscience through His Word and teaches us to submit to Him and others whom He placed over us for our well-being (Isaiah 48:18). In terms of authority, God has given parents authority over their children (Ephesians 6:1-4; Deuteronomy 5:16) not to abuse them but to respectfully teach them in godly living. Here we see God giving parents authority with a limitation to exercise Godly values of love and respect (Titus 2:4).
Furthermore, the authority of the husband in the family relationship should be one of love and respect to both children and wife (Ephesians 5:25). Brethren, sadly we as fathers abuse this right of authority from God by being too controlling and demanding unjustified submission. On this matter, judge for yourself where you unjustly demand things to be done for you when you could possibly have done it yourself and still demand the right of authority; are you not abusing both your wife and God’s Word? Similarly, there are wives who are outright rebellious by disregarding God’s teaching on the family's unity (Ephesians 5:22-23). From experience, this kind of attitude destroys the family’s unity, love and respect. This is what the Lord says makes for a divided home which will not stand (Mark 3:25; Proverbs 14:1); if we were to examine the relationship of every kind of problem in the house, wouldn’t the marriage hold together when we apply Scripture (Colossians 1:17)? I know that this kind of teaching is unacceptable to a wife who is influenced by the modern worldly view; but for those who enjoy a happy family unit, it is a crown of God’s blessing which overflows in peace in that house (Haggai 2:9). Although human quarrels start as a result of an individual’s self-interest (James 4:1), family feuds are avoided and destroyed by submission to God’s authority and in this case, Scriptural instruction (2 Timothy 3:16).
Controlling Others is Sinful
The apostle Paul had been given authority, but it was for building up the body of Christ, not for tearing it down (1 Corinthians 13:10). As we know, it is easy to exercise control over those under our authority. This might be our congregation, family or work subordinates with authority given by our position. God is interested in exactly how fairly and honestly we exercise our authority and our attitude in guiding others. The apostle Paul warned employers not to mistreat their workers, but to treat them with respect considering that the Lord exercises an authority of love and respect over us (Ephesians 5:25; Colossians 4:1). In emphasis, Christian employers are even admonished to treat their fellow brethren who work for them with Godly love as brothers in Christ (Philemon 1:16-17).
In addressing a problem of controlling others in our ministry, some time ago the Lord Jesus Christ showed Charis in a vision how someone in our ministry was busy controlling the finances and the way the other person should live. This message and teaching from the Lord was very sobering as He taught us not to take advantage of those who live under our authority by using their ignorance to benefit us. In other words, this sister was guilty of making the other person believe and do only what she said, and this was gross abuse which displeased the Lord. It is very unjust and humanly wicked to use the fear or respect others have for us to exploit them for our benefit. In a separate message to someone else, the Lord both warned and encouraged a brother not to fear people, as this would open the door for controlling others, or others to control you. For the Lord's sake, we are called to submit to every human authority and respect those over us (1 Peter 2:13; 1 Timothy 6:1-2). Therefore, I am not encouraging rebellion here, but people will often take advantage when we are too submissive due to our fear of them. When we allow such people to rule over us, we create a burden that may restrict and limit us, as well as blind us to truth.
God Gives Us Free Will
We have had quite a few people requesting us to ask the Lord how they should help our ministry or others; in a gentle message to them, the Lord admonished them to listen to the Holy Spirit for He would guide them in making a decision that is void of pressure and demand (Exodus 25:2; 2 Corinthians 9:7). Scripturally, while our Lord Jesus Christ is Lord over all the human race (John 17:2), He never exercises undue authority over us unless we were wrong and intent on harming others (Romans 14:9; Daniel 3:16). The enemy often uses deception to mislead people, but he also uses coercion, manipulation, and force (Job 1:13-19; 2:7; Matthew 27:40; Matthew 16:22-23). The Lord, however, has given us free will, and He operates with us on the principle of choices and consequences (Deuteronomy 30:19-20; Joshua 24:15; Galatians 6:7-8). The Lord Jesus Himself, as we mentioned previously, never demanded of people to follow Him; He simply shared with us Truth and the choice to either obey Him and enter everlasting life, or follow Satan's deceptions and suffer the consequences (Matthew 5:20; 7:13-14; 10:32-33; Matthew 18:8-9; John 3:3; Revelation 21:6-8).
In conclusion, I am a product of Bible school teaching and I warmly appreciate the culture of Biblical learning which well-intentioned men and women of God teach. However, the problem with some Bible institutions is that they teach formulas that promote financial gain and the pursuit of prestige through the pastoral qualification. The end result of such a student is only Biblical knowledge and demand for submission to them with NO fruit of the Spirit. Submission to our spiritual leaders is good, but we are equally warned to discern truth and motives and apply what is good (1 Thessalonians 5:12, 21). In this regard, our submission is to the Word of God that our leaders proclaim; we must give them respect but NOT submission to their will for our lives (Matthew 23:3). Our total submission in word, will and deed should only be to Christ.
Have you been wrongly using your authority to control others? Have you been neglecting to allow the Holy Spirit to guide you in making decisions and allow the Word of God to control your actions and attitudes? If so, please repent. To accept Jesus Christ, who has authority to give you eternal life (John 17:2; John 5:21; John 3:16), as your Lord and Saviour, please begin by praying this