Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Be Careful About Your Own Quest for Power

Excerpt from a soon to be published book by CrossBooks.

Day 23 Beware of Your Own Heart’s Desire for Power.

Proverbs 23

1 When you sit down to dine with a ruler,

Consider carefully what is before you,

2 And put a knife to your throat

If you are a man of great appetite.

3 Do not desire his delicacies,

For it is deceptive food.46


The politician who allows access to any interest group, including yours, probably has ulterior motives. Beware! There is a need for healthy skepticism no matter whose party is in power. The writer reminds us to be careful of the “deceptive food”—the privilege or honor that is not what it seems. Politicians in the United States are constantly tempted to use the “delicacies” and perks of their office to gain favor with the electorate.

Probably the most blatant and benign are the annual parade of “World Champions” (Football, Baseball, Basketball and Hockey) that are invited to the White House for a photo op and luncheon. But there are less obvious and more sinister uses of power and influence peddling that the writer of Proverbs seeks to help us avoid.47

This warning however, is not just toward the deceptive food of the host. It is focused on our own desires for more of what the host can give. Look carefully at the first two verses. The admonition is squarely centered on the reality of what resides in our own hearts. Yes the atmosphere of the political power structures (symbolized here by a banquet at the palace) is potentially a pitfall. But it is a pitfall precisely because we may be people who have “great appetites” (v. 3b). It is what dwells in our own heart that is the underlying problem. And it is the corruption that resides in our own hearts that we are most likely to forget when we get into the halls of power.

“Don’t let that happen,” says the writer. With a humorous and graphic image, he warns us to “put a knife to your throat.” (v. 2) “Don’t be drawn in.” “The king may just be trying to butter you up for his own agenda.” Beware! Perhaps he is trying to influence or obligate you to some policy decision that is at odds with your values. “Consider carefully what is before you” (v. 2a).

“Yeah, I understand that, but how does this apply to me? I’m not going to be invited to the governor’s mansion, and there aren’t any Senators offering me a free lunch?”


Think about it. Isn’t the election year rhetoric of both parties filled with “delicacies” for the electorate? “Elect me and I will give you, ______________________.” Fill in the blank with any one of a dozen promises from either candidate for whatever election is the hot button in your region. And then, “Consider carefully what is before you” and if you are a man or woman “of great appetite,” remind yourself of verse 3:

3 Do not desire his delicacies,

For it is deceptive food.

A number of years ago, a woman in our church was upset with me. At one point in her argument, she said, “I give a lot of money to this church …” The implication was that since she gave a lot of money, I should be much more compliant with her will on the matter we were talking about.

I was shocked into momentary brain lock. I stumbled for a moment and than I said to her, “You don’t really want me to preach or make decisions about what I believe is right based on who gives what and how much, do you?” She quickly realized where she had put her foot and backed tracked a significant distance in order to extract it.

Just for a moment, that woman was thinking like a politician with “delicacies” to deliver. The trouble was I wasn’t buying. And that is what the writer tries to drive home for us. When the political season rolls around and the “delicacies” are flying through the airwaves, put a knife to your throat, if you are a man of great appetites and consider carefully what is the wise choice before you. Beware what you are “buying.”

If your heart is wise, you will “live in the fear of the Lord always” (v. 17).

Voting in the “fear of the Lord,” is a protection against voting for the short-term delicacies that might be offered to us. People who live for eternity are committed to the long haul. Sometimes the right vote is the one that limits our benefits so that the common good is served. Sometimes turning our backs on the perks that are offered is the most godly and wise thing we can do in a situation.

For the remainder of the chapter see VoteforJesus.blogspot.com.

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