“What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?” (1 Cor. 4:21)
A leading head of state is scheduled to arrive, we prepare accordingly, the plant supervisor begins his daily rounds, we behave differently, you have company arriving this weekend, you clean and dust. We allow ourselves to be modified by the presence of others, at least most people do, they behave differently in front of certain individuals, especially those in some form of supposed authority over them.
It is called in one respect a façade, a covering that is appealing, one that is placed over the front of a building that is dilapidated. “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.” (Matt. 23:27)
In some cases it stems from pride, in others from fear, in either case it is the predetermined way we believe we should behave in the presence of certain individuals.
Paul held Spiritual authority by the power of the Holy Spirit everywhere he went, he spoke for God, and the people that he was speaking to in our opening verse of the short letter knew this. I am quite sure that when they reached that part of his letter to them fear was the response they felt. “You can either rectify this within yourselves, or be punished for it, your choice.”
It is expected, the old saying fits well in much of the Scriptures, “When the cat is away, the mice will play.” “And the LORD said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves.” (Exo. 32:7)
Every other page in the Book of Judges attests to this fact, the Pharisees who sounded the music as they prepared to put their offering in the appropriate place. “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.” (Luke 18:11)
Many people in authority, whether it be over a nation or a convenience store, seek that which they believe they have earned, respect, and although we are to give respect when respect is due, (Romans 13:7) there is a difference between being a servant and being subservient, and I fear that not only have many no knowledge of this truth, but have been taught from their youth to be the latter.
I will not speak to the initial thoughts of the leaders of the church that Paul sent that letter to, but I believe that only one of two flowed through their minds. “This is against the Most High God, we are at fault, Paul has been blessed to reveal this fault to us, and for the glory of God we must rectify it immediately.” Or they may have thought, “Oh no, Paul is coming, we must fix this.” No matter your place of employment, when the boss walks your way, do you behave differently?
“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” (John 1:12) I ask you, if indeed you have been chosen by the Almighty, if you have been crucified with Christ, if you know that you will judge angels, why do you not behave in such a manner today, why do you not walk continuously in the power of the Holy Spirit, in all humility and service to only One, the Lord Jesus Christ?
Pride is of course a great hindrance to doing so in this regard. “As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.” (1 Peter 2:16) But I fear that most who serve the Living God have gone down a different path, the one of subservience to those around them, and do not understand fully what it means to be a servant, to wash the feet of others.
We walk a tightrope, as it were, on one side is pride, the knowledge that we serve only the Risen Savior, on the other is fear, fear of men because of the possibility of personal retribution. Paul said to these people, “I am coming to you, no matter your decision.” I hope you have been acting accordingly in this matter, for the Lord Jesus Christ Himself is coming soon, or you are going to where He is to meet Him, and He will not just ask for an account of your actions in this life, He will demand it.