WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
JULY 21, 2022
TOPIC: RESPECT THE LIMITS OF YOUR AUTHORITY
BY T. O. BANSO
“Then one from the crowd said to Him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.’ But He said to him, ‘Man, who made Me a judge or an arbitrator over you?’” (Luke 12:13-14 New King James Version).
Respecting the limits of one’s authority is an important factor in one’s success in the exercise of authority. It is possible for someone to assume the authority he doesn’t have or act beyond the limits of his authority. In such a situation, whatever action is taken is invalid. It could, sometimes, attract disgrace or humiliation.
In court, a judge does not assume jurisdiction over every case. Where a judge entertains a matter that his court has no jurisdiction over, on appeal, a superior court will rule that the lower court erred in law. Thus, whatever the lower court has done before then on the matter is null and void.
Anyone who is in a position of authority must act within the scope of his authority for whatever he does to stand. Being in authority does not give anyone the licence to do everything or anything he likes. One must respect the limits of one’s authority. To do otherwise has consequences.
Jesus came to the earth as the Son of God and the Son of man. He respected the limits of His authority on earth as a man. For example, Jesus didn’t refuse to pay the temple tax. When Peter was asked at Capernaum if Jesus paid temple tax, he answered the temple tax collectors in the affirmative (Matthew 17:24-25a)
When Peter came into the house, before he could say anything, Jesus asked him if the kings of the earth took customs or taxes from their sons or from strangers. Peter said from the strangers and Jesus remarked that then the sons were free (verses 25b-26). However, Jesus didn’t because of that use His authority as the Son of God to refuse to pay the temple tax. He told Peter, “Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for Me and you” (verse 27 New King James Version). Respect the limits of your authority.
The Bible records an occasion when Jesus didn’t assume authority over a matter. He knew that He wasn’t sent to the earth to get involved in every issue. He knew the details of His assignment and the scope of His authority. This is very important for anyone who will live a focused and effective life. Luke 12:13-14 says, “Then one from the crowd said to Him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.’ But He said to him, ‘Man, who made Me a judge or an arbitrator over you?’” (New King James Version). Such cases were brought to the rabbis at that time for mediation.
Although Jesus was called rabbi, He was different from the other rabbis. Therefore, He refused to be drawn into settling a family dispute. That was not what He came to the earth to do. There are limits to the authority of a minister of God in the lives of his church members. He should not be involved in every matter. Otherwise, he could get himself in trouble.
However, take note of what Jesus said to the crowd after turning down the man’s request: “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12:15 New King James Version). Probably the man who came to Jesus or his brother was guilty of covetousness or both of them were, so Jesus used the opportunity to teach the rest.
In Matthew 21:23-27, Mark 11:27-33, and Luke 20:1-8, the religious leaders questioned the authority of Jesus. They asked Him by what authority He was doing what He was doing or who gave Him the authority. But He didn’t answer them because they claimed not to know whether John’s baptism came from heaven or men when He put the question to them. Of course, His authority was from His father. He didn’t speak or act on His own authority (John 12:49; 14:10).
Respect the limits of your authority. Moses tried to assume authority over two Hebrews to settle a dispute between them and one of them told him, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you intend to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” (Exodus 2:14a New King James Version). Moses was rejected because he had no authority to lead the Hebrews yet.
Also, one could say that Moses did not respect the limits of his authority at Kadesh. God had spoken to Moses to speak to the rock before the congregation of the Israelites and it would yield its water, which the Israelites and their animals would drink. That was the authority God gave Moses. But Moses went beyond the limits of his authority by not only calling the Israelites rebels but also assuming that he was the one responsible for the water coming out of the rock. He also exceeded the limits of his authority by striking the rock twice instead of speaking to it.
Numbers 20:10-11a says, “And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock; and he said to them, ‘Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock? Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod’” (New King James Version). God neither said that Moses should speak to the Israelites but the rock nor did He tell him to strike the rock. Moses acted outside the limits of his authority. Nevertheless, water came out abundantly from the rock, and the congregation and their animals drank. This, however, didn’t validate Moses’ action.
Numbers 20:12 says, “Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them’” (New King James Version). This was a serious punishment. Respect the limits of your authority. Honour God. Obey Him. Don’t take credit for what He has done or is doing.
Whatever position you occupy in the church, at work, in government, or in society, know the limits of your authority. Don’t operate outside the limits. Don’t get drunk with power or carried away by the euphoria of success, the praise of men, or their flattery and begin to act beyond the limits of your authority.
King Uzziah of Judah was very successful because God helped him marvellously. But he didn’t respect the limits of his authority when he became proud. He intruded into the office of a priest and didn’t listen to Azariah the priest and the eighty priests of the LORD who told him that it wasn’t his duty to burn incense to the LORD, but for the priests, the sons of Aaron, who were consecrated to burn incense. They told him to get out of the sanctuary because he had trespassed but he became furious. He had a censer in his hand to burn incense. Right there in the house of the LORD, leprosy broke out on his forehead and he was thrust out. That was the end of his reign. He died a leper (2 Chronicles 26:16-21).
The undoing of the first king of Israel, Saul, was not respecting the limits of his authority. Two times, he failed regarding this. In 1 Samuel 13, he offered an unlawful sacrifice instead of continuing to wait for Samuel who was to offer the sacrifice. As soon as he had finished presenting the burnt offering after waiting for Samuel for seven days as he had instructed him, Samuel came. Apparently, Saul didn’t wait till the end of the seventh day to see if Samuel would still come or not. Although he made excuses for offering the burnt offering, he had gone beyond the limits of his authority.
1 Samuel 13:13-14 says, “And Samuel said to Saul, ‘You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the LORD your God, which He commanded you. For now the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you” (New King James Version). Saul failed God by disobeying His instruction given to him by Samuel.
Saul repeated the same error by disobeying God when He commanded him to go and completely destroy the Amalekites. The instruction was very clear but Saul didn’t respect the limits of his authority. He did what he had no authority to do by sparing Agag, the king of the Amalekites, and the best of the animals and all that was good. He only destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword and everything that was despised and worthless. Because of this, God rejected Saul as king. He tore the kingdom of Israel from him and gave it to his neighbour better than him (1 Samuel 15).
Be careful. Respect the limits of your authority. Act within the limits of your authority in your relationship with God and human beings. Don’t let anyone influence you or pressure you to go outside the limits of your authority. This will preserve you and help you not to lose your place. You will also receive honour rather than face rejection, disgrace, or shame.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner, and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner, and I cannot save myself. I believe Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and was raised on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Holy Spirit, guide me to operate within the limits of my authority; let me not go outside the boundaries of my authority. Father, I shall be obedient to your instructions in Jesus’ name. I shall not become proud or be drunk with power. I shall do what is right before You and not what seems right in my eyes. I shall not lose my place in Jesus’ name. Father, I pray that all those who are not respecting the limits of their authority will repent before they lose their position or suffer other consequences in Jesus’ name.
(For over 800 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President of Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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