On the Use and Abuse of Power

Some years ago I took a course in the historical books of the Bible. One of my assignments was to make a chart of the kings of Israel and Judah. I listed whether they were good or bad and in what ways they were weak. With only a handful of exceptions, I noticed that even kings who started out great usually fell hard later.

Hezekiah served the Lord faithfully, but at the end of his life, he bragged about the treasury. David felt like he needed a fling while all the warriors were out working, and he spent months hanging on to unconfessed sin. Solomon was beloved of God, but at the end of his days, he worshipped false gods.

I used to wonder how that could be, but once I hit the over-forty milestone, it started making more sense. The longer we live, the more societal power we usually wield. And it’s easy to feel we are entitled to respect or privileges. The status of youth gets traded for the status of power. And power is more intoxicating. It’s easy to feel exempt from some of the rules. It creeps in slowly, but pride is at the center of it. It’s just that it happens so gradually that it does not shock us.

We have lots of power. We may think we have little power, but we have lots. Our challenge is to harness all our power for good. Think about it…

I have the power to share the gospel with a needy world. Am I sharing it?

I have the power to forgive those who have wronged me and to give grace to those who do not deserve it.

 I have the power to bring deep joy to my family.

 I have the power to love others who are different from me.

 I have the power to care for those who cannot give back to me, to the bereaved, to single parents and their children, to the sick, the dying, to the poor, the resident alien, to those who have left all to follow Christ.

I have the power to care well for animals. (See Proverbs 12:10.)

 I have the power to protect others’ reputations by holding my tongue.

 I have the power to bless others with what I say.

 I have the power to help others change through loving guidance and even confrontation, when necessary.

 I have the power to use my gifts to God’s glory.

 I have the power to help develop children into well-adjusted human beings (whether they are my own or other people’s).

 I have the power to speak boldly on behalf of the silenced, persecuted church.

 I have the power to change society through my vote and voice.

 I have the power to give away power so others can develop their potential.

 I have the power to pray and thus to call upon my loving Father, who places all the power in the universe at my disposal if I pray within His will.

I know you are like me in that you want to end well. Through the power of the indwelling Spirit, we can have astonishing influence for good. Or through the power of selfishness, we can do overwhelming damage to ourselves and others. The kings had lots of power and they mostly blew it. How are we, by God’s grace, using the power we have?

Sandra Glahn, who holds a Master of Theology degree from Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) and a PhD in The Humanities—Aesthetic Studies from the University of Texas/Dallas, is a professor at DTS. This creator of the Coffee Cup Bible Series (AMG) based on the NET Bible is the author or coauthor of more than twenty books. She's the wife of one husband, mother of one daughter, and owner of two cats. Chocolate and travel make her smile. You can follow her on Twitter @sandraglahn ; on FB /Aspire2 ; and find her at her web site: aspire2.com.


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