Thesis:The "grace/faith-function" of "ruling" is the ability to counter the attempts of the wilful to subvert the spiritual health of the body.
Introduction:So far in our studies of Paul's emphasis upon the function of grace-gifts, we have seen a double focus: there is a focus upon the origins (prophecy) and content (teaching, exhorting) of Truth; and there is a focus upon the actual practice of that content so that it is demonstrated to be Truth (ministry, giving). The Truth is true whether any man practices it, or not, but it is not perceived as Truth, nor does it have any significant impact upon unbelievers, when it is not practiced by those who claim to have "believed" it. Unapplied "Truth" is simply disbelieved "Truth" and unbelievers are emboldened in their rejection of the Truth by the unbelief of believers. Thus, Paul insists upon a level of serious pursuit by everyone in regard to whichever "grace/faith-function" they have been given.
This evening we are going to consider the "grace/faith-function" identified by the text as "ruling" (AV) or "leading" (NASB).
I. The Central Concept.
A. The word was coined to communicate the idea of "standing before" an individual, or group in light of the issue of some form of "dominance".
1. It is impossible for someone to "stand before" another without getting that "other's" attention in one form or another.
2. Because of this impossibility, there were two ways the "attention" could be viewed.
a. Sometimes the one "standing before" garners the disapproval of the one whose attention has been attracted.
b. Alternatively, sometimes the one "standing before" is given some measure of approval by the one whose attention has been attracted.
3. In spite of the alternatives, in every case of "standing before" there is a form of dominance being exercised because it is impossible for one to be subjected to another's presence before him/her without that presence obtaining "dominance".
a. A person whose way is suddenly blocked by the presence of another must decide how he/she will handle the sudden obstructing presence.
b. In this way, then, whether in disapproval or approval, the one being obstructed is subject to the dominion of the one suddenly standing there.
B. In the biblical use of the word, there are two major themes.
1. One of those themes involves the "objections" of the one whose way is blocked.
a. In 1 Timothy 3:4, 5, and 12 the scenario is that of a father whose children and household are not particularly pleased with the individual decisions he has made for their activities.
b. This context assumes that the same thing will be true in the local church.
c. The point is this: people are automatically rebellious, as a most basic characteristic, and, therefore, any group of them will have to have some form of authority over them if there is to be any cooperative progress by them.
d. The conclusion is this: the "grace/faith-function" of "ruling/leading" involves a special ability to get people to agree to get-along/go-along with each other.
2. The second of those themes involves "maintaining" the good course that has already been put in place.
a. In Titus 3:8 and 14 Paul's instruction involves exhorting folks to "continue" what has already begun.
b. The assumption here is that people will be subject to the temptation to "let things slide" as the determination to do good is confronted with the difficulties that such action inevitably confronts.
c. Thus we conclude that this "grace/faith-function" involves a special ability to reinforce a determination to stay on course.
C. In Paul's treatment of this function, there is no indication that those who have this "gift" are originators of either the doctrine or the practices, but are "enforcers".
1. The assumptions involve the "gift" as being exercised by someone who has come to some significant level of Love/Faith maturity.
a. The gift requires a knowledge of what is valuable.
b. The gift requires a willingness to pursue what is valuable in biblical ways.
c. The gift would, then, not be readily visible in a person's life until Love and Faith have taken root.
2. As "enforcers", those so gifted are able, by their own practice, to persuade others to do what they do.
3. The "enforcement", given the propensity for rebellion, must have some level of final authority and the biblical form is discipline by the church and its consequences with God.
II. The Particular Character.
A. Paul commands "diligence".
B. The word is used in contexts where letting things slide would be seen as the easier course.
1. In light of the issue raised above from Titus, Paul is insisting that those who have this "gift" also develop an ability to resist the temptation to take the easy way out.
2. There is a tension here: the requirement of "much longsuffering" (Romans 9:22) stands in tension with the refusal to "let things slide".
3. The implication is that those "gifted" with this particular ability will also have a special ability to tell when to "be diligent" unto confrontation and when to "give space" for an individual's own repentance (Revelation 2:21).