Going Deeper into Loving Others
We’re glad you’re here and hope you’ve brought along a friend or two to talk with as we continue to go deeper into Respect.
Father God, You are our ultimate authority. Bless us with the faith to trust Your power and goodness, and to obey You as You teach us to love.
Read Reflection Scripture:
Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
– Matthew 6:9-10 NLT
The Reflection Scripture is one familiar to most of us. Did spending time reflecting on the beginning of the Lord’s Prayer give new meaning to the way Jesus taught us to pray?
Did you gain insights from the Reflection Scripture and Reflection Thoughts which helped you process respecting authority?
May your name be kept holy.
The Greek translated as holy, or hallowed in other translations, means “to render or acknowledge, or to be venerable or hallow” (ESL). Venerable meaning “deserving regard with reverential respect” and hallow meaning “respect greatly” (Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary 11th Ed.).
Jesus taught us to pray for His Father’s name or character to be greatly respected.
Why do you think we are to pray for Father God to be greatly respected?
May your kingdom come soon.
We considered the definition of kingdom as the right or authority to rule, not a physical realm. If He is a sovereign God, isn’t His rule already in place? Why do we need to pray for His rule to come soon?
At the Fall in the garden of Eden, we handed over the rule of creation, which God originally gave us, to Satan by obeying him instead of God. We showed more respect for the serpent than for God when we chose to listen to him instead of follow God’s one rule.
Adam and Eve did not greatly respect God, or they would have obeyed. However, God respected our choice and allows Satan to rule for the time being. Asking for God’s rule to return soon is a way we acknowledge things are not as they should be. We need to return to greatly respecting His authority.
When Father God’s authority is greatly respected the enemy does not have near the influence he would otherwise.
In your mind, what does it look like for His Kingdom or Rule to come soon?
May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
Jesus calls us to pray for Father God’s rule to be respected and obeyed on earth as well as in heaven, where He is clearly seen and known. May His presence and authority be obeyed here as if His throne and glory were seated before us.
How would His Kingdom or Rule on earth express itself when it comes to our respect of others?
If all came under His authority as King, we would all serve His purpose in loving others into His Kingdom. His entire rule is love.
How are you when it comes to dealing with the authority over you?
Ultimately, how are we to deal with authority over us?
All authority belongs to God. We are to respect all authority the same way we are to respect Him.
Did you see Him from a new perspective by praising Him as Author?
Read Matthew 6:9-13
Looking at the Lord’s Prayer in its entirety, what type of relational authority is established in the way Jesus taught His disciples to pray?
Father to child. What are the dynamics of this relationship?
- The child only exists because of the father.
- Children come under their father’s authority.
- Children are dependent on their father for care and provision.
- The father has a responsibility to nurture the child: physically, emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, morally.
- The father is greater than the child in experience, wisdom, strength, and knowledge.
The Greek translated as father is pater. The metaphorical meaning of the word is: the authors of a family or society of persons animated by the same spirit as himself; one who has infused his own spirit into others, who actuates and governs their minds (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon).
The Father through the obedience of the Son animated, brought to life, those who believe by the power of His own Spirit, which now infuses us and rules in our hearts.
Jesus brought God’s authority into our being in an intimate way. Father to child. And under His authority by the power of the Holy Spirit we desire Him to rule and depend on Him for all our needs. We have a heart for what He has a heart for. As Father and King.
Read Matthew 21:23-27
What are the religious leaders questioning Jesus about?
His authority. Who gave Him permission to do the things He was doing: cleaning out the money changers from the temple, healing, teaching. By what authority?
Does He tell them?
He answered their question with a question meant to reveal the authority they were serving. Which turned out to be their own. Afraid of disagreeing with the crowd and losing their reputation they said they didn’t know the answer to Jesus’s question.
In response to this questioning of authority, Jesus tells a series of three parables.
Jesus uses these parables to reveal something about what it looks like to respect authority in the Kingdom of God.
In the first, He told about two sons whose father asked each to go work in the vineyard. One said he would but didn’t. The other said he wouldn’t but did.
Who did the will of the father?
The one who actually did. Respecting the authority of God begins with obedience to His Word.
The second parable He told was about a landowner who built a vineyard, leased it to tenants, and then moved out of the country. At the time of harvest, he sent servants to collect his produce from the ones leasing his property. The tenants refused to give what was owed. They beat, killed, and stoned the owner’s servants.
He sent more servants, and the tenants did the same. Finally, the owner sent his son, because he was sure those leasing his fields would respect his son. Only they didn’t. They saw it as an opportunity to steal the property out and out. If the owner had no one to inherit the property it would come to them.
Jesus asked the Pharisees who questioned His authority, “When the owner returns, what will he do to the tenants?”
They quickly answered this question, “Put them to a miserable death and lease the vineyard to others who will give him his crop.”
What do we learn about respecting authority in the Kingdom of God?
We are not owners. We are tenants who are working for Him. We are to honor Him by bearing fruit for Him, not ourselves.
The third parable was about a wedding feast. Jesus began by saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who gave a wedding feast for his son…” The king sent servants to tell those invited it was time for the celebration. None who were invited came. They had their own interests to take care of. Some were so disrespectful, they beat and killed the servants who were sent to tell them it was time.
In anger, the king killed those murderers and destroyed their cities. Then he sent his servants to gather any they could find to come to the feast. It was prepared. The food wouldn’t keep. It was time.
They gathered all they could find and the wedding hall was filled with guests.
What is Jesus saying about God’s Kingdom and respecting His authority?
Those who were invited and refused were self-interested. Those who were gathered were probably surprised by the call to come to the feast. Something they may never have imagined, sitting at the wedding feast of the king’s son.
Coming under authority involves connecting with the interests of the one over you. Your interests become their interests.
The three main points in these parables involved in respecting the authority of the Kingdom of God:
- Obedience to the Father.
- A heart of stewardship and willingness to work for the Master.
- Sharing the same interests: God-interest vs. Self-interest.
A time is coming when He will call. Call us to work, give, or take part in what’s important to Him.
Who are you currently serving? Is your interest in serving Him? or serving yourself?
Do you live as if nothing is yours and all belongs to Him? Do you have an owner or tenant mentality?
Do you like to spend time with the King? Do you share His interests? Does your heart rejoice over what He rejoices? grieve over what He grieves?
At the heart of respecting God’s authority is a right relationship with Him as Father and King.
Read Lamentations 3:37-39
The most audacious thing about this passage is God taking responsibility for EVERYTHING that happens in the world. He does not beat around the bush. Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come?
What is your initial reaction to this truth? How do feel about God authorizing all that happens?
How are you at reconciling it to His goodness? and His power to work all things for the good of those who love Him and are called to His purpose as we read in Romans 8:28?
Do you trust Him with this kind of authority? How do we go about working this out in our hearts?
For me this is one of those questions I answer with Yes, but then add, Help my unbelief!
I don’t believe we can trust His absolute authority without the gift of faith. He is an unseen King in heaven, while we are bombarded daily by difficult things we see and feel and experience in the world.
I went back to the biblical definition of faith to wrestle with this concept…
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen.
I’ve studied these words before, looked into this verse in both English and the original Greek. But I went again…
What I found was, the first definition of the Greek translated as assurance is: a setting or placing under; thing put under, substructure, foundation (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon).
So the verse might literally read: Now faith is the setting under of things hoped for…
What came to mind was a picture of an umbrella. God’s authority is what we place our umbrella of faith under and under that umbrella is where we set our hopes.
All faith is based on setting ourselves firmly under the confidence of God’s authority and goodness. Being under His authority makes for a good foundation.
Going to the next part of the faith definition, the original for what’s translated as conviction means: a proof, that by which a thing is proved or tested (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon).
A literal translation could be: The proving or testing of things unseen.
Faith is the constant testing and proving of what we do not see through obedience and the exercising of our faith. We have to taste and see that He is good (Psalm 34:8).
Coming to grips with His absolute authority in a world where too often things seem more bad than good takes constant steps of faith.
When we trust God’s authority and goodness by faith, continually testing our faith with obedience, we grow in our ability to love others without fear, even when they are unjust authorities over us.
Read Matthew 17:24-27
Peter was asked by religious authorities about the temple tax, not a government tax, and he responded with a yes when asked whether Jesus paid the tax or not.
Why do you think Peter answered this way?
Jesus gave Peter a lesson on taxes when he came in the house. What was Jesus saying about Himself and whether He should pay the tax or not? Why did Jesus pay?
Jesus made it clear to Peter, sons of the king are exempt from paying taxes, something Peter already knew. Jesus’s Father was King of the temple, He was the Son and therefore exempt. The message between the lines to Peter was: Why did you say I would pay a tax I’m exempt from. But in order to not offend those who didn’t believe He paid the tax.
How did the unusual way He paid the taxes for Himself and Peter respect His Father’s authority?
- He didn’t take money out of their ministry fund, which was dedicated to the teaching of the gospel and helping the poor.
- He sent Peter to fish for it. In a way Peter worked to pay their taxes.
- He paid their taxes with a previously lost coin which was found. His mission on earth was reflected in this paying of the temple tax: Find what was lost and return it to His Father.
Jesus did what He needed to do to respect the governing authorities He came under on earth, yet did it in a manner which ultimately honored His Father’s authority over Him.
What does it look like for us to respect those in authority like Jesus did?
Turn to Matthew 22:36-40
We read what Jesus said the greatest commandments are:
- Love God with all your heart, soul and mind.
- Love your neighbor as yourself.
And we looked at the connection between law and authority. Laws establish the conduct of a community and are enforced by a controlling authority.
Read Matthew 5:17-20
The original Greek translated as abolish has a figurative meaning of travelers on a journey stopping for the night and unstrapping the loads off their donkeys.
What picture does this paint when Jesus said He did not come to abolish or remove the burden of the law but to fulfill the Law and the Prophets?
The burden of the law would remain. It was not being set down. His arrival didn’t mark the end of the journey. He came to fulfill it in its entirety.
Jesus carried out every particular of the law, including the punishment for breaking the Law. He is also the fulfillment of every prophecy and promise.
How do we live in a manner which respects Jesus’s fulfillment of the law and the Authority behind it?
Respecting Jesus’s fulfilling of the law means coming into agreement with Him about where we fail to fulfill the law and acknowledge our need for His work on the cross. He took our burden on Himself. We can now come under His yoke, no longer bearing the weight of the law alone, and He equips us to serve alongside Him in following the letter of the law: Loving God and loving others (Matthew 11:28-30).
In light of what the law is about, what can’t we help but do when we obey His law?
Love. We can’t help but love God and others when we respect His Ultimate Authority.
Read Mark 10:42-45
Not only are we called to come under authority with respect, we are also to be respect-full of the authority we’ve been given. How did Jesus view godly authority?
According to Jesus, God-given authority is a means by which to serve others, not your own purpose.
Historically, how have you wielded authority He has given you?
What are some things which make it hard to be a servant-leader?
Authority issues can be boiled down to two things: pride and insecurity (fear of man). Both interfere with our relationship with God and others.
Last week we began reading 1Samuel in our Friday morning study. As I read about God leading Samuel to anoint Saul as king, Saul’s response caught my attention.
Saul answered, “Am I not a Benjaminite, from the least of the tribes of Israel? And is not my clan the humblest of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin? Why then have you spoken to me in this way?”
1 Samuel 9: 21 ESV
It was clear Saul didn’t think much of himself. His story is riddled with insecurity. I see the opposite in David. Though he was “a man after God’s own heart,” a season of pride got him into trouble with another man’s wife.
Two kings with no greater earthly authority over them. One prideful for a time, the other insecure. Neither chose to come under God’s authority which caused a great divide in their relationship with God. It wreaked havoc in the lives of those around them and drove both to great extremes.
Pride and insecurity brought rebellion against God’s law, squashed the potential of those under their authority and eventually led each to murderous ways.
I’ve experienced both pride and insecurity in my life. At one point I decided no one would tell me what to do. Other times my insecurity kept me from encouraging others in leadership. I couldn’t love God or anybody else the way I was supposed to.
I’ve come to the place where I recognize respecting those in authority over us and the ones we have authority over authentically flows when I am humbly secure in God’s love for me and the unique way He calls me to follow Him.
When we have authority issues rooted in pride and/or insecurity, then we are no different in the way we treat others when to comes to respect.
In the book Grit by Angela Duckworth, she sites purpose as inspiration for perseverance and success. One of the individuals she highlights is Kat Cole who became president of the Cinnabon bakery chains at age 35.
She did not get to this position through education, but through working her way up in another restaurant chain, from waitress, to manager, to opening international branches of the restaurant. She became a vice-president in the company by the age of 26. Angela shares a post from Kat’s blog in her book:
“When I am around people,” Kat wrote, “my heart and soul radiate with the awareness that I am in the presence of greatness. Maybe greatness unfound, or greatness underdeveloped, but the potential or existence of greatness nevertheless. You never know who will go on to do good or even great things or become the next great influencer in the world – so treat everyone like they are a person.”
Kat Cole has the heart and attitude we all need when wielding authority. Humility and eyes which see the unseen potential God has placed in everyone He’s created.
As Believers respecting authority means coming under God’s authority through obedience, an attitude of steward not owner, and with a heart interested in what He’s interested in. And when we do, we can’t help but love.
Our next week of study on Respect is respecting God’s Unique Love. [Click link for a PDF of the homework: Respect Week 5_ God’s Unique Love – Homework]
Open our hearts to Your unique love for us and all You’ve created, Lord. Teach us to love like You and not the world.