Authority and the exercise of authority are legitimate and are even granted by God as a reward.
There seems to be widespread suspicion that all authority is somehow wrong. Child psychology books, for example, taught that children should not be repressed and limited because this might warp their personality. (We are instructed in Proverbs 22:15, however, that “folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.” Every child’s personality has already been warped, and needs straightening out.)
The very fact that God has delegated authority makes it legitimate. That is enough. We live in an ordered universe that God set up, and it includes authority and submission to authority.
Luke 22:24-27 has sometimes been quoted to support the idea that authority, especially in spiritual matters, may not be good. The disciples were disputing among themselves in this passage about which of them was the greatest. Jesus then taught them that “the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.” But notice the reward he then promises to them in verses 28-30.
You are those who have stood by me in my trials. And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Once he had dealt with their selfish ambition, he let them know that the reward for their faithfulness would be the exercise of great authority in his future kingdom. So authority in itself is not bad.
Notice also the parable in Luke 19:11-27 of the servants whose master gave them money to put to work while he was gone. When the master returned, the two servants who multiplied their master’s money were rewarded with authority: To one the master said, “Take charge of ten cities,” and to the other, “Take charge of five cities.” This parable includes other lessons, but one important principle it contains is that authority is a reward for faithful service.
Why does God work this way? I believe it’s because he’s concerned about developing our character. Character is determined by choices and decisions we make, and, as we said earlier, authority is the right to make decisions. If we make mature decisions, our growing character is rewarded with the opportunity to make even more decisions. In this way we grow in character step by step, becoming more and more like the Lord Jesus.
So the reward for the faithful discharge of authority is more authority, and more responsibility.