Devotional Thought 39: Tough Love

I may seem to be boasting too much about the authority given to us by the Lord. But our authority builds you up; it doesn’t tear you down. So I will not be ashamed of using my authority. (2 Corinthians 10:8)

After Jesus’ royal entry into Jerusalem, the first thing He does is exercise His authority over the Temple, driving out the corrupt merchants and business people defiling God’s house of prayer. Then, understandably, the indignant Pharisees come to Jesus, asking Him who He thinks He is; what authority He thinks He has! Jesus stalemates them in a trap question and they leave, plotting how they’re gonna get rid of this guy. Jesus then tells a parable about a vineyard and its wicked managers, symbolizing how God entrusted Israel to its wicked leaders who beat and killed His prophets and now His own Son, but will soon be destroyed and the people of God opened up to the Gentiles. And the One they rejected will become the greatest of all! Lastly, in an attempt to discredit Jesus, they ask Him about taxes to Caesar, to which Jesus replies that they should give to Caesar what bears his mark, and give God what bears His.

These confrontations between Jesus and the religious leaders show us something crucial about God’s heart: He fights for that which He loves! At the center of the Pharisees’ issue with Jesus and His rebuke of them is a matter of authority; what belongs to who? By telling the Pharisees to give Caesar tax money because it bears his image, He was implying that what we give to God is our hearts, because they’re stamped with His image; they’re His! If that’s true, then God’s jealousy for us is rightly so since He loves us so much, yet we leave Him for sin. What Jesus did in the Temple was an illustration of what God does for us; because of His infinite love and desire for us, He decisively and authoritatively does what He must to rid us of sin and drive out the corrupting influences of Satan! In other words, God uses His sovereign authority and power to build us up out of love, even if it means harsh, strong methods.

So how does this affect the way we do ministry? When Paul sends Titus to Crete in order to establish and straighten out the churches there, he reminds Titus that the Gospel invites all people to salvation and teaches them to turn from their sinful ways in order to live righteously for God; Jesus Christ died for us so He could redeem us from sin and set apart a chosen people for His own who are on fire for doing good! Therefore, Paul says, Titus is to teach these things, encourage them to live it out, and correct them when they stray with all authority, not letting them disregard his leadership. (Titus 2:15) In other words, Titus is able to teach, encourage, lead, and rebuke the churches with authority and confidence because he’s speaking for the Gospel, which calls all people to repent and live righteously! Not only does the Lord fight for His beloved, but He calls His people to fight for each other in love by teaching, encouraging, rebuking and leading one another with His authority! As Paul puts it in his letter to the Corinthians, because he loved them and wanted to see them growing in Christ, he would not hesitate to harshly exercise his apostolic authority in order to weed out Satan’s influences among them. (2 Corinthians 10)

  • We all face the strongholds of our sinful nature and Satan’s schemes to pull us away from our Father. We also have authority as representatives of Christ to teach, lead, encourage, and rebuke in order to build each other up! The Holy Spirit loves us, and is grieved when we’re pulled away, so He fights for us by resisting the lusts and temptations that confront us. Likewise, when we’re filled with His love for others, we will feel compelled to fight for them, maybe even harshly if we have to.

Or do you think the Scriptures say in vain ‘The Spirit within us yearns jealously”? (James 4:5)

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