As already discussed the standard for holiness is God’s very nature. Jesus is a perfect model of that nature. This is important for church leaders to live up to across the board, but there is one area that is particularly important. That being God’s authority. However, this is often a very misunderstood concept that church leaders sometimes fail to live up to properly, just like our Pharisee predecessors. The Lord’s authority is often symbolized by the hand of God, but what we must remember is that God has two hands. A hand of stern discipline, and a hand of nurturing healing. We become effective church leaders by wielding both hands of His authority appropriately, not just the one we are comfortable with. All those under the care of half a leader are at risk of being damaged and wounded by said imbalance, and carry a distorted image of authority and God. Even those who actually recognize both hands of God often make the mistake of compartmentalizing them. That the hand of stern discipline was strictly an Old-Testament manifestation, and the hand of healing is the only one that still applies under the new covenant. The world has always and will always need both hands of God’s authority. To offer discipline without healing begets only rebellion. To offer healing and no discipline results in what you might call rich kid syndrome. For even in the Old-Testament there came the time for restorative healing after the discipline was done. Even is the New-Testament there was a time to rebuke. We can clearly see this dual image in Jesus himself. When dealing with the sinners in their brokenness, he offered the hand of healing. When dealing with authorities who perverted God’s truth and offered no hand of healing themselves he offered the hand of discipline. Whatever was needed in that moment. With that being said we must also recognize that the hand of discipline wields a two-edged sword. (Revelation 1:16). God’s authority does not merely point at others, but one edge always points at the wielder. To truly wield the duel edge sword you must live and hold yourself accountable to it. Only those who do will have the discernment enough to know when to draw said sword, and when to leave that sword sheathed to offer the hand of healing. We see this very concept being uttered by Jesus in Matthew 7.
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
To live under God’s authority, and not just apply it to others is to know its sting. To heed its sting is to deal with ones own sin. To deal with ones own sin is to realize there is often an emotional scar behind our sin, and a face behind every scar. This knowledge brings empathy and proper restraint in wielding the sword of authority. With that comes the wisdom enough to know which hand to wield in order to help and not just draw blood. Many in the church repeat the same mistake as the Pharisees by never offering healing and waving the sword of authority in the face of the broken, yet never at themselves. Yet, we wonder why so many have a problem with authority.
|To wield the double edged sword is to know it's sting|