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Self-Restraint: A True Power Skill

"The purity of silver and gold is tested by putting them in the fire; The purity of human hearts is tested by giving them a little fame" (Proverbs 27:21; The Message).

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We look at some of the world's evil dictators who established totalitarian governments and committed unthinkable monstrosities and atrocities known to humanity. We think, "Who does that?" & "How could they?" The answer is more straightforward than we think. Jeremiah writes, "The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?" (17:9; New Living Translation).

In other words, these men and women aren't the exception but the standard. We may all get a good laugh out of the movie "Office Space." Still, identical behaviors occur in most, if not all, work environments (you fill in the setting, whether corporate or private practices, government, religious institutions, schools, or dental offices).

Those heart tests may be hard, but they are not impossible to pass.

Very few have or will pass the test of handling power and influence responsibly because we fail to get healing from past trauma and wanting control comes naturally to us. We are all guilty of taking advantage of people's situations and placing self-interest over the greater good. This awareness is not to condemn but to encourage us to see things from God's perspective. Given the opportunity, most of us would make the critical mistakes they made and be responsible for the demise of another civilization. We acknowledge King Saul's mistreatment of David but fail to recognize David's mishandling of Uriah, which was far worse (resulting in an honorable man's death at the hand of the righteous king). Most establishments have a revolving door with corruption on every floor.

"When Josiah heard what was in The Book of God's Law, he tore his clothes in sorrow. At once, he called Hilkiah, Shaphan, Ahikam, son of Shaphan, Achbor, son of Micaiah, and his servant Asaiah. He said, "The LORD must be furious with me and everyone else in Judah because our ancestors did not obey the laws written in this book. Go find out what the LORD wants us to do." (2 Kings 22:11-13; Contemporary English Version).

Allow God to prune the old habits and attitudes that can cause a hindrance in seeing things from a perspective or operating in a way that produces the best results.

It can be bothersome when people say, "Those who don't know their history are doomed to repeat it," because history is a volume of substantial recycled human behavior. Look no further than our family histories! Are we more educated? However, we now find more sophisticated ways to do and be evil. As if intellectually and philosophically, we can change ourselves. King Josiah gives us the blueprint of a genuine revolution in our hearts and spheres of influence. He took the initiative to repent (have a change of heart) and then took appropriate steps to corrective action. He gathered his leaders together to get God's perspective. Then, he implemented change not by delegating responsibility but by taking the "lead." Long-standing structures and infrastructures were demolished, people were deposed, and God's presence was re-established in his kingdom under his leadership.

"There was no king to compare with Josiah—neither before nor after—a king who turned in total and repentant obedience to God, heart and mind and strength, following the instructions revealed to and written by Moses. The world would never again see a king like Josiah." (2 Kings 23:25; The Message).

| He implemented change not by delegating responsibility but by taking the "lead." |

King Solomon made a place for his mother right next to his throne. He created an environment for wisdom to prevail. In his knowledge, King Asa removed his grandmother from her position as queen because she was a very negative influence. When we want God's way, we make hard choices. Sadly, too often, we do the opposite by allowing and cultivating drama and feeling as if we were slighted when we have to face the consequences of poor choices.

How can we take small steps towards implementing change with the power skill of self-restraint?

Let's take a look at this Scripture regarding Jesus:

"Put yourself aside and help others get ahead. Don't be obsessed with getting your advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn't claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion." (Philippians 2:3-8; The Message).

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