The right use of power

Published 3:19 pm Friday, November 2, 2018

Most of us have probably always agreed with the idea that the forces of nature are powerful, but not until the recent hurricane gave us a personal encounter with that power did we realize just how intense it really is.  The twisted steel, downed trees, and damaged rooftops seen all over the landscape bear witness to the destructive power of the wind.  But even in the midst of the result of destructive power we occasionally find reminders of the positive effects of power.  As I was cleaning the church parking lot Wednesday, I noticed a couple of kids coming in my direction.  They were dressed in their Halloween costumes so my immediate thought was “surely those kids are not going to ask me for candy while I am working hard to get finished by dark.”  I was quite shocked and touched when the young lad approached and said to me “Thanks for making Bainbridge better.”  He then handed me a piece of candy and said “Happy Halloween.”  In my exhaustion after a long day of sawing and dragging limbs and blowing debris off of the asphalt, a small act of kindness from a couple of kind children caused a powerful dose of encouragement to settle over my tired and dirty body.

Each of us possesses 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 those who oppose us, and perhaps even a desire to 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). 

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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 students 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, yet 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.  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.