Proverbs 13:13 ESV
Whoever despises the word brings destruction on himself, but he who reveres the commandment will be rewarded.
We don’t like listening to authority. Well, we do, but only when it tells us things we like. Unfortunately, because man is sinful, the only authority he tends to like is that which leads him astray. Evil, after all, is easy, particularly in the short term; virtue is hard, for all it brings eternal life. Even worse, because only God is perfect, only His authority can be implicitly trusted. So here’s the dilemma: we ought to listen to authority, but we daren’t listen to the wrong authority. Worse, because man is sinful, the authority we could listen to has at least a little bit of the wrong type of authority mixed into what he commands.
The proverb at hand testifies to the importance of authority: listening to the commandment (or ‘a commandment’) is rewarded, and the natural effect of contempt is judgement. The primary authority man should heed, of course, is God and God’s word, as per Psalm 119:25-32. The Word of God provides a foundation for life. The question, then, is what other authorities we are to listen to?
Ultimately, all authority comes from God. 1 Timothy 6:15 calls Him the “King of kings” for a reason: all kings are under His kingship. Any rightful authority man has is authority he gains by obeying God, whether in a duty appointed by Him directly (the civil government, church, or family) or in a role consonant with His word (business, school, etc.). For instance, as Romans 13 declares, the civil government has the power to punish evil and to reward good. The implication we must never forget is that the civil government has this power and only this power. If the government decides to punish good and reward evil, it acts without true authority- it’s only authority then is the pretense afforded it by power.
Likewise in the family or the church, when a mother, father, deacon, or elder acts, he (or she, in two cases) relies upon the authority given to a parent or church officer by God. Children, therefore, must obey their parents in obedience to the Lord; church members must obey their elders in obedience to the Lord. The last phrase is here most important. If the parent commands the child to sin, he ought to disobey rather than violate God’s law, because the authority of God is higher than the authority of man. Indeed, a command to sin has no true authority because it no longer has God’s authority. The same principle applies to the church.
What does this mean in practice?
In practice, one authority should trump all others: the Bible. Therefore, because the Bible is the ultimate authority, being the word of God, we should take care to study it, to know it, to understand it. We ought to take care that we apply that understanding. Through such means God grants wisdom, a gift higher than any man can make. Wisdom is, in the words of this proverb, a reward, a reward given to those who revere the commandments of God. As Psalm 119:41-43 states:
“Let your steadfast love come to me, O LORD, your salvation according to your promise;
then shall I have an answer for him who taunts me, for I trust in your word.
And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, for my hope is in your rules.”
Sanctuary Functional Medicine, under the direction of Dr Eric Potter, IFMCP MD, provides functional medicine services to Nashville, Middle Tennessee and beyond. We frequently treat patients from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, and more... offering the hope of healthier more abundant lives to those with chronic illness.