Power Corrupts

Our human nature to avoid loss of power is based in a fear of losing it and whether we wish to admit it or not, our fear of losing it is to be corrupted when we have it.



Acts 24:[24-26] Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was a Jewess. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus. [25] As Paul discoursed on righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.” [26] At the same time he was hoping that Paul would offer him a bribe, so he sent for him frequently and talked with him.

We have a 1985 standard transmission Isuzu Trooper gifted to my wife by her grandmother.  This two owner vehicle when purchased new may have had more power than it does today, but I imagine it’s top speed was still about 60 mph just as it is now.  We’ve grown accustomed to having little power in that vehicle. But what I never get used to is heading up a hill in the Ozarks and having to downshift because of a loss of power.  Low power is one thing, but loss of power is another.

What is power?  In physics, we’re taught that power is the amount of work/time. The less time it takes to do an amount of work, the greater the power.  The more work one can do in a set amount of time, the greater the power.   This may be why powerful people are sometimes called “movers and shakers.” Moving and shaking is work! Most of the time, power is used to beget more power.  After all, if I’m moving and shaking, I might as well move and shake that which will make it easier for me to move and shake more in the future. More power.  This tendency in man could be exactly why I hate experiencing a loss of power in our Trooper!

Our human nature to avoid loss of power is based in a fear of losing it and whether we wish to admit it or not, our fear of losing it is to be corrupted when we have it.

No one likes the idea of having been corrupted, but most, either consciously or subconsciously, fear the loss of power – the loss of ability to move and shake things in our sphere of influence.

The acquisition of tools, skills or abilities that enables us to “move and shake” often represent a growing arsenal of power in our personal war-chest. The more we have in the chest, the more we treasure it, the more it corrupts.

Nineteenth century English baron, Lord Acton, was right.

“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Félix had power. This Roman governor was once a Greek slave who had been freed and given Roman citizenship. Now appointed in this position of authority in the Roman government, the message Paul spoke of righteousness, self-control and judgment to come represented a threat to Félix’s personal war chest of power.

Paul boasted in weakness, professed he was a slave to all men and described his righteousness as filthy rags. He was not just blinded on the road to Damascus. He was stripped of all pride, prestige and power.  For Félix, it was too much.

“That’s enough for now!” Scripture says he became fearful listening to Paul and sent him away. Fearful of what? A conviction if to which he yielded, would render him powerless. But Felix’s power had a stronghold.  For the two years that followed, he would call Paul in seeking a bribe for his release.

Power begets power. Power corrupts. And power fears its own loss.

But is it not exactly that to which God calls each us? A total loss of power? In what ever way we’ve relied on ourselves, whether it be our skill to convince, our ability to manipulate or our money to influence, God calls us to abandon all reliance on our own power.

Quite simply, man wasn’t intended to have it.

Rev 4:11 reads,

“You are worthy to receive glory and honor and power, because You have created all things and because of your will they exist and were created.”

All power is His. To think we have any is a dangerous misunderstanding of both His ultimate power and His dispensation of grace.

The next time you have to down-shift in life from a loss of power, just know that it wasn’t yours to begin with. He’s the One who moves and shakes things to work together for your good.  He’s the One whose grace abounds in your weakness.  And He’s the One who delivers you in your powerlessness.