"We hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed." 2 Cor 4: 8-9
Exercising power is always tricky. Whether you are an ordained minister or a parent, your power will be empty unless you find a way to exercise it with compassion and mercy. When Paul was writing his second letter to the Corinthians, he was opposed by a small group of community leaders who were challenging his claim to apostolic authority, and his task, like ours, was to find a path to authentic unity among the Corinthians.
Paul reminds the Corinthians that real authority is God's not his and it does not matter whether he is afflicted, perplexed abandoned, or struck down, he will not be defeated or destroyed because his commitment is to honor God in his sufferings and not attack those who oppose him.
A good test of our own integrity and power is always to examine our tone, our attitude towards others, and our desire to dominate or win arguments. If our tone is dismissive or personal and we only want to be right, we can be sure our actions are not of God. Christian authority is never based in competition, but seeks to build and rebuild relationships between and among believers.
Today, listen with an open heart to anyone who opposes you.
What do you think are the marks of authentic authority?