On a comic I recently saw it showed two ‘sign up’ tables. One was for the ‘gifts of the Spirit’ and the other was for the ‘fruit of the Spirit’. The line for the ‘gifts’ was long and no one was in the line for the ‘fruit’.
This depiction, although some would see as funny, I found it quite sad. It displayed yet again how we tend to seek power over character.
Perhaps you have heard the quote before which says, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
The original phrase was written to an Anglican Bishop by John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, also known as Lord Acton, in 1887. He was thought by many to be the most educated and thoughtful man of his day. The actual quote is this:
“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”
The lure to have power and influence is a great temptation in our day, perhaps as it always has been. We see it in the many abusive kings in the Old Testament, but even Peter sought influence on the mount of transfiguration, or with the sword in the garden, or by dining only with Jewish Christians (Galatians 2). Likely all of us have succumbed to this temptation at some point. We see this when we seek to use our position or our argument of a moral right to put down those against us. Certainly there are times to rise up and express a moral imperative or to use our God given position, but often we fail to see the inner agenda driving us. We can easily yield to pride (wanting others to think better of us), to fear (showing anger and using emotion to influence others), and to gain the ‘ring to control all rings’ (real power).
We underrate the fruit of the Spirit values of self-control, patience, kindness, or just plain goodness. We ‘win’ by having these virtues … not by having dominating influence over others. Yes, we might be discouraged with politicians, school policies, church politics … but beware of the tendency to feed fuel to the fertilizer that makes our emotions get the best of us. We are to watch our heart and let the peace of Christ rule it. The servant of the Lord is not to strive, which is what seeking power promotes.
Take a true sabbath. Breathe. Enjoy God’s presence and creation. Focus on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. Stand for truth and for Jesus, but don’t fight battles Jesus Himself is responsible to meet.
Your co-worker, Dennis