September 7: “Christians and Those in Authority”

5 Minute Read + Scripture readings

Today’s Bible Reading:

2 Samuel 1
1 Corinthians 12
Ezekiel 10
Psalm 49

Today’s Bible Verse(s):

2 Samuel 1:14 (CSB): “David questioned him, ‘How is it that you were not afraid to lift your hand to destroy the Lord’s anointed?’”

Reflections on Today’s Bible Verse(s):

The verse I have chosen for today has often been abused and misunderstood. Yet, it is such a powerful principle that we’d better get it right.

First, it has been abused.

I have observed many people, primarily pastors, who have used this principle to essentially say that they were untouchable. It was made clear that the congregation had better acknowledge their pastor’s authority and calling by God (they were “the Lord’s anointed”), and respond accordingly.

… and then abuse happened. Pastors, who essentially twisted God’s Word so that they were above being held accountable, used that unchecked power to abuse others.

Yet, the Bible makes it clear that pastors are to be held accountable. Pastors who remain in grievous sin are to be called out and publicly reprimanded.

1 Timothy 5:19-20 (CSB): “Don’t accept an accusation against an elder unless it is supported by two or three witnesses. Publicly rebuke those who sin, so that the rest will be afraid.”

So, the principle of “not touching the Lord’s anointed” doesn’t mean that pastors (or any other leaders) are above question. In fact, it is a wise church (or any other group) that holds their leader(s) accountable.

Second, the principle of “the Lord’s anointed” has been misunderstood.

The way Christians view leadership these days has more in common with a sinful world system than with the Bible. A quick view of American history will cause many to acknowledge that skepticism and criticism of our national leaders gained steam with President Nixon’s impeachment. From that time in our history, presidents and other leaders (including pastors) are viewed with skepticism and are fair game for scathing, public criticism and disrespect.

Yet, the Christian worldview calls us to acknowledge that those who are put into positions of leadership are put there by God. Whether it is the President of the United States or the pastor of a local congregation, they are there by God’s doing. They are “the Lord’s anointed.”

This is why we submit to (obey, respect) the governmental authorities.

Romans 13:1 (CSB): “Let everyone submit to the governing authorities, since there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are instituted by God.”

This is why we submit to church authority.

Hebrews 13:17 (CSB): “Obey your leaders and submit to them, since they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account, so that they can do this with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.”

This is why we submit to parental authority.

Ephesians 6:1-3 (CSB): “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, because this is right. Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise, so that it may go well with you and that you may have a long life in the land.”

So, the Christian worldview says that we pray for and submit to those in authority over us. Why? Because people in leadership are “the Lord’s anointed.” God has placed them into those positions of authority.

Yet, we are not called to blind submission. As we respect the office, we also hold those in leadership accountable. If we must confront sin in our leaders, then we must have King David’s attitude toward “the Lord’s anointed.” We need to be so careful in how we deal with them. Following Christ means that everything we do must be done in love (1 Corinthians 16:14).

* * * * * * * * * *

Lord Jesus, I know from Your Word that I cannot have a rebellious spirit and still be Spirit-filled. In fact, when I look at Ephesians 5:18 where I am commanded to be filled with the Spirit, I see only three verses later that being controlled by the Holy Spirit will mean that I submit to others. Help me, Lord, in a culture that is rebellious, to demonstrate a peaceable and quiet spirit. Help me in particular to be supportive of those in leadership over me during these dark days. But help me also to have the courage and compassion to call them out if necessary. Amen.

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I have an incredible wife that God gave to me on May 10, 1997. Since then, the Lord has blessed us with three wonderful boys. I am also the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Polk City, Florida.

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