“By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures. A wise man has great power, and a man of knowledge increases in strength”
This is the third of a series of Seeds of the Kingdom devotionals about the three most dangerous temptations, money, sex and now power.
Power and authority are not the same thing. A person in authority uses power to carry out what whatever it is he has to do. A boxer has power in his muscles but he only has authority to use it in the boxing ring against an opponent. It’s the boxing ring that gives him his authority – and it is only here that he can use his power.
Power has the capacity to be a huge blessing or a terrible curse. The power of a railway engine can transport people across the land in comfort. But if that same engine, at the height of its power, leaves the track at speed, there would be a terrible disaster. The power of a wise ruler with a good government can be a huge blessing to the people of a nation. But a despotic ruler who has no other objective than to use his power to control other people and satisfy his own objectives, is a curse upon the nations.
Now, the privilege of being the ruler of a nation is reserved for only a very few people, but these principles can apply to each and every one of us. For we are all capable of acting with love and generosity towards those who are under our authority or treating them with harshness and cruelty.
I will never forget the lady who almost spat at me, when I encouraged her to trust God as her Father. Eventually, through her pain and anger, she told me how her father would beat her and her brothers and sisters every night when he came home from the pub, drunk. “I know what fathers are like and if that’s what God’s like, I don’t want to know him!” she said.
Her father’s wrong use of power in the family had caused her terrible pain and a lifelong of suffering. Some people use the power they have to inflict suffering on the people they control, so as to make them do what they want out of fear. A harsh boss at work can keep people under control through his temper and bad language. And tragically we have had to pray with many people who were abused at home, physically or sexually, by people who abused the authority that they had in the family over their children.
Our Scripture for today paints a very different picture, however. It’s a picture of a person who has gained knowledge and wisdom in life and as a result of what he knows is able to make wise and profitable decisions and uses his power for good. I will never cease to be thankful to God for wise parents who used their authority firmly and with much love. They taught me so much and I will be eternally grateful to them.
The good news for those who have suffered under a harsh authority, wherever that may have been, is that Jesus came to show us what the Father is really like. His arms of love are always open for the hurting and the broken, for those who have suffered the cruelty of abuse of power. And there is forgiveness for those who know they have used their powers abusively and cruelly.
Prayer. Help me, Lord, to forgive those who have abused their power and hurt me at different times of my life. Then help me, Lord, to always use the power that you have given me in every sphere of life with love and wisdom. Help me never to take advantage of those who are under my authority. And thank You, Jesus, that even though all authority has been give into Your hands that You are still the Good Shepherd who loves and cares for Your sheep – even me! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.