Overcoming the Temptation of Power

By Ryan Shaw

An area of fallen, sinful nature difficult to defeat is that of selfish ambition, desire for a name, seeking to be known, fame, wanting to be the boss and dominate and other power related issues.

God has called us to spiritual greatness! Every believer possesses an inner desire to mature and be great in God. We cannot repent away this God-given hunger. Such desire is of God and meant to glorify Jesus.

However, there is often a blurry line between this drive toward greatness in God and the pride to become “somebody” in the world (even if we clothe it with Christian ministry).

God’s definition of greatness is living submitted and surrendered in obedience and faithfulness to His Son, Jesus Christ. A purposeful humbling of oneself under God’s mighty hand always proceeds exaltation in Scripture. It is a principle of the Kingdom. It was Jesus’ way and is ours as well.

The world defines greatness as those who are at the top of the organizational chart. The famous and known are great as well as the politically powerful. The ones who have achieved outward success are to be exemplified.

This false understanding of greatness has awakened a longing within every human heart to pursue these ends in order to be seen as successful. Believers are not immune to this. We falsely seek power, ambition, and to define our success by worldly standards, even within Christian ministry itself.

Jesus is calling us to recognize this tendency, confess it and receive His enabling grace to cultivate a reservoir of deep humility through which He, in His timing, can exalt us if He chooses to.

Aspiring to leadership may be God’s will for us. But taking such leadership outside of God’s appointed timing is not. Manipulation, scheming and self-promotion is not God’s way.

Two powerful Biblical examples teach us much about the desire to take hold of power in our own timing: David in his relations with Saul and Jesus as He is tempted by Satan in the wilderness.

David was anointed by Samuel as Israel’s King about 20 years before he would assume the throne. Over those years he served in Saul’s court and was pursued by Saul as he tried to kill David.

David had several opportunities to take matters into his own hands and thrust himself onto the throne by killing Saul. It would appear, on the surface, through justified means. Yet, he never would allow himself to do so.

David waited for the Lord’s perfect timing in exalting him to the role of King. David would not use opportunities to kill Saul as justification to manipulate the hand of God and thrust himself into power because He wanted God’s best.

We find the same response with Jesus. The Spirit sent Jesus into the wilderness where Satan tempts Him. One of the temptations surrounds this issue of seeking and taking power.

Satan shows Jesus the Kingdoms of the world. He tells Him to bow and Jesus will be given these Kingdoms. Obviously, Satan was mistaken as to who possessed power over the Kingdoms, but that is not the point here.

Though Jesus is God and full of every form of power possible, He would not take it until God’s timing was right. He would not manifest His authority until the Father said it was time. Remember, Jesus had not yet begun His public ministry at this point.

This same temptation is all around us and we often find ourselves easy prey for the enemy. We are power hungry and God says to lay ourselves at His feet in humility. To allow Him to form and make us, preparing us for His potential appointment in His own timing. The pathway to His appointments is always humility and meekness.

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