December 23: The Rise to Power
Jeremiah 44:1–46:28; Romans 11:1–10; Proverbs 25:1–28
If you’re driven, you’ve probably worked very hard to get to where you are. Being driven is a good thing, but being driven at a cost to others or by elevating yourself by your own accord is detrimental. Proverbs 25 offers this warning from the perspective of King Solomon: “Do not promote yourself before the king, and in the place of the great ones do not stand. For it is better that he say to you, ‘Ascend here,’ than he humble you before a noble” (Prov 25:6–7).
People tend to get nasty when power or money is involved. It’s uncomfortable to wait for that promotion, but God asks us to remain patient. At the end of the day, attaining leadership because you’re worthy is a much great honor than obtaining it because you were louder than someone else or placed yourself in front of them. We should always take initiative and strive to succeed, but we need to remember that it’s not our place to decide our fates. We must place that in God’s hands, and we must wait to be asked to take the reins rather than snatch them ourselves.
Many people would put themselves before others when given the opportunity; they would promote themselves at the cost of someone else. As Christians, we have to ward off such temptations. We must maintain our integrity. Proverbs speaks about this as well: “What your eyes have seen [in a king’s court], do not hastily bring out to court, for what will you do at its end, when your neighbor puts you to shame? Argue your argument with your neighbor himself, the secret of another do not disclose, lest he who hears shame you and your ill repute will not end” (Prov 25:8–10).
Abuse of power is one of the most common leadership problems. People seeking and obtaining power when they’re not ready can be equally disastrous. As we seek to advance ourselves, we must be cautious with how we earn power—and with how we handle power when we’ve earned it.
What “power” situations are you currently handling well? What must change in your current “power” struggles?
JOHN D. BARRY
Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
- The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah concerning all the Jews, which dwell in the land of Egypt, and remained at Migdol and at Tahpanhes, and at Noph, and in the country of Pathros, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts the God of Israel, Ye have seen all the evil that I have brought upon Jerusalem, and upon all the cities of Judah: and behold, this day they are desolate and no men dwelleth therein, Because of their wickedness which they have committed, to provoke me to anger in that they went to burn incense, and to serve other gods whom thy knew not, neither they nor you, nor your fathers. Howbeit I sent unto you all my servants the Prophets rising early, and sending them saying, Oh do not this abominable thing that I hate. But they would not incline their ear to turn from their wickedness, and to burn no more incense unto other gods. Wherefore by my wrath, and mine anger was poured forth, and was kindled in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem; and they are desolate, and wasted, as appeareth this day. Therefore now thus saith the Lord of hosts the God of Israel, wherefore commit ye this great evil against your souls, to cut them off from you man and woman, child and suckling out of Judah, and leave you none to remain? In that ye provoke me unto wrath with the works of your hands, burning incense unto other gods in the land of Egypt, whither ye be gone to dwell: that ye might be a curse and a reproach among all nations of the earth, Have ye forgotten the wickedness of your fathers and the wickedness of the kings of Judah, and the wickedness of their wives, and your own wickedness, even the wickedness of wives, which they have committed in the land of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem? They are not humbled unto this day, neither have they feared nor walked in my law nor in my statutes, that I set before you and before your fathers. Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Behold, I will set my face against you to evil, and to destroy all Judah, And I will take the remnant of Judah that have set their faces to go into the land of Egypt there to dwell, and they shall all be consumed and fall in the land of Egypt: they shall be consumed by the sword, and by the famine: they shall die from the least unto the most, by the sword, and by the famine and they shall be a detestation and an astonishment, and a curse and a reproach. For I will visit them that dwell in the land of Egypt, as I have visited Jerusalem, by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence So that none of the remnant of Judah, which are gone into the land of Egypt to dwell there shall escape or remain, that they should return into the land of Judah to the which they have a desire to return to dwell there: for none shall return but such as shall escape. Then all the men which knew that their wives had burnt incense unto other gods, and all the women that stood by, a great multitude, even all the people that dwell in the land of Egypt in Pathros, answered Jeremiah, saying, The word hat thou hast spoken unto us in the Name of the Lord, we will not hear it of thee. But we will do whatsoever thing goeth out of our own mouth, as to burn incense unto the Queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, both we and our fathers, our kings and our princes in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of vittles and were well and felt none evil. But since we left off to burn incense to the Queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, we have had scarceness of all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine. And when we burn incense unto the Queen of heaven, and poured out drink offering unto her, did we make her cakes to make her glad, and pour out drink offerings unto her without our husbands? Then said Jeremiah unto all the people, to the men, and to he women, and to all the people which had given him that answer, saying, Did not the Lord remember the incense, that ye burnt in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, both you and your fathers, your kings, and your Princes, and the people of the land, and hath he not considered it? So that the Lord could no longer forbear, because of the wickedness of your inventions, and because of the abominations, which ye have committed: therefore is your land desolate, and an astonishment, and a curse, and without inhabitant, as appeareth this day. Because you have burnt incense, and because ye have sinned against the Lord, and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord, nor walked in his law, nor in his statutes, nor in his testimonies, therefore this plague is come upon you, as appeareth this day. Moreover Jeremiah said unto all the people and to all the women, Hear the word of the Lord, all Judah, that are in the land of Egypt. Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, saying, Ye and your wives have both spoken with your mouths, and fulfilled with your hand, saying, We will perform our vows that we have owed to burn incense to the Queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings to her: ye will perform your vows, and to the things that ye have vowed. Therefore hear the word of the Lord, all Judah that dwell in the land of Egypt, Behold, I have sworn by my great Name, saith the Lord, that my Name shall no more be called upon by the mouth of any man of Judah, to all the land of Egypt, saying, The Lord God liveth, Behold, I will watch over them for evil, and not for good, and all men of Judah that are in the land of Egypt, shall be consumed by the sword, and by the famine, until they be utterly destroyed. Yet a small number that escape the sword, shall return out of the land of Egypt into the land of Judah: and all the remnant of Judah that are gone into the land of Egypt to dwell there, shall know whose words shall stand, mine or theirs. And this shall be a sign unto you, saith the Lord, when I visit you in this place, that ye may know that my words shall surely stand against you for evil. Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will give Pharaoh Hophra King of Egypt into the hand of his enemies, and into the hand of them that seek his life: as I gave Zedekiah king of Judah into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babel his enemy, who also sought his life. … Fear thou not, O Jacob my servant, saith the Lord, for I am with thee, and I will utterly destroy all the nations, whither I have driven thee: but I will not utterly destroy thee, but correct thee by judgment, and not utterly cut thee off. (Jeremiah 44:1-46:28)
- PAUL a servant of JESUS Christ called to be an Apostle, put apart to preach the Gospel of God (Which he had promised afore by his Prophets in the holy Scriptures) Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord (which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh, And declared mightily to be the Son of God, touching the Spirit of sanctification by the resurrection from the dead) By whom we have received grace and Apostleship (that obedience might be given unto the faith) for his name among all the Gentiles, Among whom ye be also the called of Jesus Christ: To all you that be at Rome beloved of God, called to be Saints, Grace be with you, and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. First I thank our God through Jesus Christ for you all, because your faith is published throughout the whole world. For God is my witness (whom I serve in my spirit in the Gospel of his Son) that without ceasing I make mention of you. Always in my prayers, beseeching that by some means, one time or other I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God, to come unto you. (Romans 1:1-10)
- There are also parables of Solomon, which the men of Hezekiah King of Judah copied out. The glory of God is to conceal a thing secret: but the glory King’s honor is to search out. Take the dross from the silver, and here shall proceed a vessel for the finer. Take away the wicked from the King, and his throne shall be established in righteousness. Boast not thyself before the King, and stand not in the place of great men. For it is better, that it be said unto thee, Come up hither, than tho to be put lower in the presence of the Prince whom thine eyes have seen. Go not forth hastily to strife, lest thou know not what to do in the end thereof, when thy neighbor hath put thee to shame. Debate thy matter with thy neighbor, and discover not the secret in another. Lest he that heareth it, put thee to shame, and thine infamy do not cease. A word spoken in place, is like apples of gold with picture of silver. He that reproveth the wise and obedient ear, is as a golden earring, and an ornament of fine gold. As the cold of the snow in the time of harvest, so is a faithful messenger to them that send him: for he refresheth the soul of his masters. A man that boasteth of false liberality, is like clouds and winds without rain. A Prince is pacified by staying of anger, and a soft tongue, breaketh the bones. If thou have found honey, eat that is sufficient for thee, lest thou be overfull, and vomit it. Withdraw thy foot from thy neighbor’s house, lest he be weary of thee, and hate the. A man that beareth false witness against his neighbor, is like vinegar poured upon nitre, or like him that singeth songs to an heavy heart. If he that hateth thee be hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: For thou shalt lay coals upon his head, and the Lord shall recompense thee. As the Northwind driveth away the rain, so doth an angry countenance the slandering tongue. It is better to dwell in a corner of the house top, than with a contentious woman in a wide house. As are the cold waters to a weary soul, so is good news from a far country. A righteous man falling down before the wicked is lie a troubled well and a corrupt spring. It is not good to eat much honey: so to search their own glory, is not glory. A man that refraineth not his appetite, is like a city which is broken down and without walls. (Proverbs 25:1-28)