THE CONCEPT OF POWER
Power is one of God's attributes:
- In the Trisagion we say, "Holy God, Holy Almighty..."
- In the Pascha Hymn we say, "Thine is the power and the glory... "
- We conclude the Lord's Prayer with the words:
Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory"
- The divine inspiration, speaking about the Spirit of God, said, "the Spirit of counsel and might" (Is. 11:2). The creation process, the raising of the dead, and miracles are proofs of God's power.
Since God is mighty and we are created in His image and likeness (Gen.:27), then we are supposed to be mighty and powerful.
God is Almighty and He is also the source of
That is why we sing in the Pascha Hymn the
words of the
psalmist, "The Lord is my strength and song"
(Ps.118:14). So the divine inspiration says, in the Book
of Zechariah the Prophet, " 'Not by might nor by power,
but by My Spirit', says the Lord" (Zech. 4:6).
It is also stated in the Holy Bible, "and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty" (1 Cor. 1:27). But why?
St. Paul the Apostle says, "that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us" (2 Cor. 4:7).
In order for God to be the source of our power, St. Paul the Apostle says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Phil. 4:13).
It is true that we wish to be powerful, but
let God be the
source of our power. He gives us power. Let us not
depend on our own power but on His power. Let us
stand before Him weak and take power from Him.
I remember once I wrote in my notes : Satan
said to God,
'Leave the powerful to me, I am capable of dealing with them. As for those who feel their weakness, they resort to You God, and fight me with the power they take from You, so I can't overcome them'.
Sources of power:
Of course the main source of power is God alone, as the Lord said to His disciples, "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you" (Acts 1:8), and St. Paul the Apostle said, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Phil. 4:13).
Sources which people might mention with respect to a
strong personality are : mind, soul, will and spirit - all
these without God will be of no avail; for the Lord said,
"Without Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). But if
God's power enters your life, it will appear in all such
matters. So, ask God to give you the power that you
may sing this beautiful hymn: "The Lord is my strength
and song, and He has become my salvation" (Ps.
Some people may wonder about the words of the Lord
Jesus Christ to His disciples, "he who believes in Me, the
works that I do he will do also; and greater works than
these he will do" (John 14:12)! But there is an important
essential difference :
The Lord Christ works miracles by His own power,
but the believers work miracles by His power. The miracle worked by them might be very great, but it is not by their own power.
It is by the power of the Lord who works within them,
who said, "Without Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5).
God's Children are supposed to be powerful, provided that God be the source of their power. They should not depend on, or take pride in, their own power.
This is an essential requirement for the power of God's Children.
Take for example David: undoubtedly he was weak if
compared to Goliath the valiant who was boastful of his
power, but David ascribed all his power to God. He said
to that valiant, "You come to me with a sword, with a
spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name
of the Lord of hosts... This day the Lord will deliver you
into my hand; for the battle is the Lord's, and He will
give you into our hands." (1 Sam. 17:45-47). Thus David
won over Goliath, because Goliath fought with his human
power, while David fought with God's power.
The spiritual persons, in all their works, ascribe power to God.
When St. Peter and St. John healed the lame
man at the
gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, people were
filled with wonder and amazement at the miracle. So, the
two saints said to them, "why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power
or godliness we had made this man walk?" (Acts 3:12).
Then the two apostles drew people's attention to the Lord Christ whom they crucified, saying, "through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know... has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all" (Acts 3:16).
God's power is unlimited and human beings are powerful through God.
When consecrating monks we read a chapter from the
epistle of St. Paul the Apostle which says, "Finally, my
brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His
might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be
able to stand against the wiles of the devil" (Eph.
6:10,11), as if we say to them: You are about to enter
into battle with Satan and his forces and you need power.
The power which you need should be the divine power.
What then are the characteristics of this power which they should acquire ?
The power of the spirit:
Some young people think that power
strength which wrestlers and other sports people have, or
the kind of strength which Samson the Valiant had (Judg.
However, bodily strength is not everything.
those who have bodily strength are weak spiritually.
Samson the Valiant who overcame many people
his bodily strength, was weak before the temptation of
Delilah. He weakened before her and disclosed his secret
to her, so she cut off his hair and delivered him to his
enemies who plucked out his eyes, bound him with fetters
and made him grind in the prison (Judg. 16:19-21).
And David who defeated Goliath the Valiant
(1 Sam. 17)
was from his boyhood, "a mighty man of valor, a man of
war" (1 Sam. 16:18). This mighty man was weak before
the beauty of Bathsheba, so he fell and sinned and
deserved to be punished by God because he gave great
occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme
(2 Sam. 12:7-14).
Here we quote the words of St. John the Beloved to the
youth in his first epistle: "I have written to you, young
men, because you are strong, and the word of God
abides in you, and you have overcome the wicked one"
(1 John 2:14).
There is another kind of power, which is to overcome the wicked one (Satan)
The powerful person then, is the person who overcomes sin.
He who overcomes sin overcomes because God's word abides in him, and God's commandment abides in his heart. On the other hand a person who is overcome by sin cannot be powerful. He has a weak point through which the devil can enter and defeat him.
A powerful spirit overcomes the body, the material and the devil.
Whatever spiritual wars you face, you should resist even to bloodshed (Heb. 12:4), and seek God's assistance until you overcome, just as Joseph the righteous man overcame (Gen. 39).
A powerful spirit does not let itself be mastered to any habit, nor does it accept to be defeated, no matter how difficult the struggle may be, or how deceitful the devil may be. The spirit is more powerful than Satan's temptation, his deceit and his wiles.
A person who is overcomed by any habit is a weak
For example, a person who is overcome by the habit of smoking or drinking, or subjugated to addiction, is not a powerful person because he is weak before all such habits. He has no will power before these habits, but the habit or addiction has dominion over his will and his behaviour and may lead him to crime.
A powerful person does not feel anxious or disturbed, nor does he experience fear, failure or hesitation.
His spirit is like the cataracts in the river, struck by waters and waves for years and centuries and remain fixed in their place, or like the mountains hit by winds, rains and floods without being affected.
Thus a person who is powerful in spirit says
the Prophet : "Though an army should encamp against
me, my heart shall not fear; Though war should rise
against me, in this I will be confident" (Ps. 27:3).
A powerful person is steady and holds out against
hardships and threats. He is powerful despite the external
On the other hand, the weak imagines fears and is disturbed because of this.
Such fears may probably have no existence! But due to inner fear, he expects troubles and becomes worried without reason !!
A powerful person does not set the
possibility of failure
or defeat in front of him; for St. Paul the Apostle said,
"For God has not given us a spirit of
fear, but of power"
(2 Tim. 1:7), "Therefore we do not lose heart" (2 Cor.
4:16). Any fighting, troubles or hardships will not enter the heart and disturb it.
A powerful person deals with the troubles outside him, while a weak person allows them into his heart and nerves and is troubled by them.
This is the power of the spirit which the distinguished are characterized.
In an examination, the weak feel perplexed, sweats and faints when he finds a difficult question and forgets whatever he has learned !! But a powerful student thinks of the solution, by analyzing the question, and gains confidence to solve the problem.
In fact, the real concept of power ought to concentrate on internal power.
Some people may seem powerful from the
they are completely lost inside. Such a person may say, if
insulted, "God forgive you", but within he is full of rage
and hatred. The commandment of turning the other
cheek (Matt. 5:39) is said by one of the saints to be the
inner feelings, that is interior forbearance, forgiveness and
blaming of oneself.
Interior power is also overcoming one's own self. The powerful is not he who overcomes others, but rather who he overcomes himself.
One of the saints said: Man is given the power of anger,
not to use it against others and be angry with them but to
use it against himself if he does wrong. It is well said in
the Psalm, "The royal daughter is all glorious within"
(Ps. 45:13). So, if you overcome your inner self, you can
overcome any external matters, and you will be able to
overcome all enemies. St. John Chrysostom says, 'No one
can do harm to a person unless such a person does harm
Among the Characteristics of power is self-control.
He who controls his tongue is a powerful person as
said by St. James the Apostle (James 3:2). A great
point of weakness, which we pay highly for, is the tongue
A powerful person can control his thoughts
so that they
may not overcome him or cause him to stray and thus sin.
A powerful person controls himself at the time of anger and at the time of fasting with respect to food and drink, and controls himself with regard to time; he does not waste his time in enjoyment and entertainment and hence fails to carry out his spiritual responsibilities.
The power of the nerves:
Another kind of power is the power of the nerves.
A person with weak nerves becomes enraged and
agitated over any small word. He loses his temper and
self-control, his behaviour and words are offensive and he
is an object of criticism by others because his nerves
cannot bear the situation, though he may be powerful in
Nerves in fact pertain to the body, but psychological factors have an influence, because a person who is subject to the sin of anger has his nerves quickly inflamed.
A person who is subject to self-love and dignity is
sensitive to any word and thinks it has hurt his dignity
and troubled his nerves because his nerves cannot endure.
Nerves are his point of weakness.
Therefore the apostle says, "We then who are strong
ought to bear with the scruples of the weak" (Rom.
15:1). A person who attacks others is a weak person,
while he who endures is strong, like a steady mountain
that is not aroused by the offenses of others. Such a
mountain remains fixed, not shaken regardless of the
But a person who rages and tries to offend others is
vanquished by himself not by others. A simple word
might trouble him, make him lose his temper and destroy
While the powerful has strong nerves and strong forbearance.
So, he who endures is powerful, and he who hurts others is weak.
Examine yourself to find out your weaknesses and do your best to overcome them.
The powerful is not the person who overcomes others, but he who can overcome himself. Many think themselves triumphant and powerful while they are weak and defeated within.
The powerful does not only bear the offenses but also bears occurrences and problems.
He bears the hardships which may worry others, and endures illnesses, afflictions and other hardships.
The Lord Christ was powerful in His forbearance, in
bearing defiance while on the cross when they said to
Him, "If you are the Son of God, come down from the
cross" (Matt. 27:40). So we say to Him in the Divine
Mass, "You have borne the oppression of the wicked".
Aggression is easy. Any person with a weak
or weak character can attack others, but the powerful
In marital life, if the couple are weak and cannot bear each other, they may destroy their home! But if one of them at least is powerful, he can bear with the other and so peace prevails between them.
A weak person may break down when hearing certain news. His nerves, his mind and his life are affected. His health cannot endure, his blood pressure rises, his heart fails and he may even collapse. He has no power to bear the news !! Another point is :
The power of love :
It is written in the Holy Bible, "love is as strong as death
... Many waters cannot quench love, nor can the floods
drown it" (Song 8:6,7). Love is strong and positive, in
that it gives and sacrifices, even sacrificing oneself for
whom one loves...
Love is also strong with respect to the
passive aspect, in
that it endures the faults of others, regardless of what
they may be. So the Apostle says, "Love never fails" (1
But a person who turns his love away from a friend because of a word or action, may be because his love initially was weak.
Love is capable of ascending to the cross in order to save and redeem.
Such strong love tolerated the denial of Peter, the doubt
of Thomas, and the fleeing of the disciples at the time of
arresting the good Master. Strong love extends to the
enemies and offenders and blesses those who curse
The power of the personality:
A powerful personality is distinguished by strong mentality and thought.
When an person who has intelligence, understanding, discernment, eloquence, persuasiveness and good memory, deals with a particular matter, he supports his point of view clearly and in a way which is capable of attracting and convincing others.
He does not follow any rumor or belief, but thinks and
examines the matter and holds fast to what is best. With
his intelligence and understanding, he succeeds in any
responsibility entrusted to him. Such a person stands
strong in the face of any problem. He does not allow a
problem to defeat him, but he solves it or bears with it
until it is solved. A person who breaks down before any
problem is not powerful.
A powerful personality does not obey any
A person with a powerful personality influences others
and is not influenced by them except by the counsel of the
spiritual. A powerful personality does not mean that a
person be stubborn and opinionated. But rather, he is
powerful in good deeds and simple in dealing with others.
Some people have strong influence over others. Those
who are fit for ministry and leadership are unlike those
who have poor minds, even though they may be
physically strong or holding great positions, they cannot
lead others who might be more intelligent and more
opinionated. It may happen that someone faces a
problem and refuses any advice and is not convinced by
any words until a certain person speaks to him and
influences him, so he accepts his advice. The words of
such a person are powerful, effective and influential.
They do not return void.
Such influential power is useful for spiritual guidance, for the ministry of preaching and for attracting others.
Such power is useful also with respect to friendship and
social work. It is useful for those who hold management
and leadership positions. It is good for a writer or
journalist as such power would have its attractiveness and
Some persons are powerful in ministry and preaching.
They have the power of speech, influencing others and
the ability to attract people to God. Their word does not
return empty (Is. 55:11), but is fruitful. Such as St. Paul the Apostle, St. Mark, and St. Athanasius the Apostolic who confronted the Arians and spread the orthodox faith. Every spiritual priest has spiritual influence which is deep, like every preacher or successful minister.
Meekness does not contradict power. The Lord Christ was powerful and meek at the same time. He never quarreled or cried out (Matt. 12:19), but at the same time He was persuasive and had a strong personality that convinced His adversaries in every discourse.
The Will power:
One of the aspects of power in a person is their will
power or resolution. When such a person wills anything,
he can carry it out. When he takes an exercise for
example, he begins and is capable of going on and
completing it. On the other hand a weak person may
have the will but not the capability. He may begin but
does not continue.
Among the aspects of will power is self-control.
A powerful person can control himself whether at the
time of anger or against the wish to revenge. He can also
control himself against any lust or any sin fighting him. A
powerful person can restrain his tongue, his senses and
his thoughts. Suppose such a powerful person has
diabetes, he will be able to restrain himself from
Here I want to say: If a person cannot restrain himself from food in cases of disease or fasting, how would he be able to control himself against any lust or any sin ?
Some persons are weak before certain allurements.
These allurements might be position, money or lust.
Before such things he cannot endure, he is overcome by
his weakness or his lust and falls or deserts his faith!
Others might become weak before vain glory, or before
words of praise and extolling. Martyrs and confessors,
on the other hand, were very powerful before all
The power of prayers and faith:
Another kind of power is the power of prayers.
A prayer supported by the power of faith, zeal, humility
and spirituality can ascend to heaven and find response.
People feel the power of a person who have such a way with prayer and resort to him to find solutions to their problems from God through him.
The prayer of the Apostles was so powerful that it was
said, "And when they had prayed, the place where they
were assembled together was shaken; and they were allied with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 4:31). This is the powerful prayer that ascends to heaven and is presented before God's throne and receives what it asks for.
Do you have such prayer which others may seek? You can read about it in the lives of saints.
A powerful prayer is spirited and full of faith.
Faith gives power to prayers, and the power of prayer with the power of faith work together.
With the power of faith St. Peter walked on the water, but when his faith was shaken he began to sink. The Lord saved him and said, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" (Matt. 14:31).
Powerful faith can work miracles. Suffice what the Holy Bible says, "All things are possible to him who believes" (Mark 9:2,3).
Elisha the prophet went with the Shunammite woman
confident that he would be able to raise her son (2 Kin.
Elijah the Prophet also did the same with the widow of
Zarepath of Sidon and he raised her son (1 Kin. 17:22).
Powerful faith believes that the Lord will come even at the last watch of the night. Lazarus will rise even after four days of his being buried.
Your faith is unshaken even though God delays in responding, or the prayers seem not to be heard.
It is faith that doubts not God's love, though tribulations encompass or continue, and though plowers plow on his back and make their furrows deep (Ps. 129:3).
The power of faith does not only appear in trusting God's work, but the power of faith appears also when confronting heretics.
An example of this is the powerful faith of
who rejected the Arian thoughts and suspicions. The
faith within his heart was stronger than their suspicions.
On the other hand, weak faith cannot withstand doubts or heresies and heterodoxies.
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