The right use of power

Published 5:55 pm Friday, August 18, 2017

In our part of the planet we know firsthand the power of lightning.  While electricity has become something that we absolutely depend on, it is an energy that is dangerously destructive when it gets out of its proper bounds.  Our daughter and her husband had a personal experience with the costly consequences of a lightning storm just a few days ago.  During the night a storm came through the area and produced such a surge of power that some of the house wiring was damaged.  Now they have incurred some expenses that were not in their budget.  Thankfully, though, nobody got hurt and there was no fire.  It could have had a much more devastating outcome.

We live in a world in which we hear far too much about the military power of nations and their claim to be able to inflict disaster upon those that they choose to attack.  Such power for protection is necessary, but when it becomes a threat to be used indiscriminately against others it is dreadful and threatening thing.

Power used rightly can produce much good, while power used for the detriment of others results in loss for all involved.

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Each of us has more power than we usually give consideration to.  We have the power to be a blessing to others or to do them harm.  It is a matter of how we choose to use the opportunities and positions that we have.

One area of power that we have that can easily be abused and misused is our attitude and actions toward others, specifically those who do us wrong.  The immediate human response is to get even with them, and sometimes even do them greater harm than they have done to us.  Such use of personal power might seem fulfilling at the moment, but when we consider what Christ said about handling our enemies we find that their destruction is not what He expects of His followers:  “But I tell you:  Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in Heaven.  He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:44-45, New International Version). 

Closely associated with the power that we exercise in response to the hurtful words and actions of our enemies is the power to forgive.  In Matthew 18, Peter–one of the original followers of Christ–raised the question about how many times one should forgive another; he was probably taken by surprise with the answer that came from his Master:  “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me?  Up to seven times?’  Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times’” (verses 21-22).  To forgive one continuously involves a strong determination to do so, but if we will take time to remember the extent of God’s forgiveness provided for us through Christ, it is only reasonable that we would be willing to exercise the power to forgive others even when we do not necessarily want to.

We are entrusted with some powerful choices in our relationships with other people.  It is power that when used rightly brings joy to the heart for responding in ways that please and honor God.  If you are struggling as you deal with those who have done you wrong, resist the temptation to hurt them in return.  Instead, use the power that God has given you to make the right choices: practice love and forgiveness.  Nothing settles a matter like those two responses.