Using Power in the Fear of Jehovah
TODAY the Eastern and Western blocs of nations eye each other suspiciously. Why? Because of the nuclear power that each has for destroying the other. All this, however, would not be so if these blocs of nations feared Jehovah, feared to displease Him.
The fear of Jehovah acts as a check on the selfish use of power, for “the fear of Jehovah means the hating of bad,” and certainly using power to harm others unjustly is something bad. All those human rulers who have misused their power, from Nimrod on down to our very day, have, by their course of action, shown that they were or are lacking in the fear of Jehovah. One and all, they are like the senseless one who said in his heart, “There is no Jehovah.”—Prov. 8:13; Ps. 14:1.
God’s Word stresses the need for those in authority to fear Jehovah God. What kind of men was Moses to set over the people? “Capable men, fearing God, trustworthy men, hating unjust profit.” A king in Israel was required to read God’s law all the days of his life. Why? “In order that he may learn to fear Jehovah his God so as to keep all the words of this law.”—Ex. 18:21; Deut. 17:19.
What is the result when men do rule in the fear of Jehovah? King David tells us: “When one ruling over mankind is righteous, ruling in the fear of God, then it is as the light of morning, when the sun shines forth, a morning without clouds.” Surely a happy state for those over whom he is ruling. The patriarch Jacob’s son Joseph, as prime minister of Egypt, had this fear, as can be seen by his assuring his brothers, before he made himself known to them: “Do this and keep alive. I fear the true God.”—2 Sam. 23:3, 4; Gen. 42:18.
Yes, all who exercise authority over others, be they political rulers over cities, states or nations, or religious overseers with greater or lesser responsibilities, have need to be on guard that they use the power they have by virtue of their office in the fear of Jehovah. What they say and do greatly affects the lives of those over whom they bear rule: “When anyone wicked [one without the fear of Jehovah] bears rule, the people sigh.” More than that, such overseers will have to render an account to Jehovah God, the One perfect in justice and infinite in power, as to how they used their power.—Prov. 29:2; Heb. 13:17.
Not that only these persons need to be on guard as to how they use their power; there are many other sorts of power, the use of which may seriously affect others and for which the users are accountable to Jehovah God. Among such sorts of power are physical power, money power, love and sex power, and power of personality.
Physical power is often misused. Quite likely Cain, as Adam’s firstborn and older son, had the greater physical power, which he misused to kill his younger brother Abel. At times husbands and fathers, too, because of lack of self-control and patience, misuse their physical power in dealing with their families. Fittingly, God’s Word counsels them to remember that the wife is the weaker vessel and that they should not exasperate their children lest they become downhearted.—Gen. 4:8; Col. 3:21; 1 Pet. 3:7.
Modern youths are notorious for their misuse of physical power, having no scruples against maiming and even killing one another in gang fights or striking their parents once they have exceeded them in physical strength. New York City’s social workers are often intimidated by corrupt and vicious men on the relief roles who are physically powerful.
Widespread, also, is the misuse of money or economic power. Large corporations force small ones out of business; employers take advantage of their employees; banks and loan sharks oppress those who are in need of money. Recognizing this tendency, God’s law to the Israelites commanded: “In case your brother grows poor,” you are not to “take interest and usury from him, but you must be in fear of your God.” Again: “You must not tread down upon” your brother who is working for you, “with tyranny, and you must be in fear of your God.” Concerning those who do misuse this power the disciple James warned: “Come, now, you rich men, weep, howling over your miseries that are coming upon you.”—Lev. 25:35, 36, 43; Jas. 5:1-6.
Another power that is often misused is the power that some have because of others’ fondness for them. This power is often exploited by the selfish members of a family. Those who love less misuse the power that they have by reason of the others loving them more. Thus children today take advantage of the great fondness their parents have for them in order to get their way, all of which leads to unhappy parents and delinquent children. This situation, however, most likely is due to a lack of the fear of Jehovah on the part of both parents and children.—Prov. 20:11; 23:13, 14.
The attraction that the sexes have for each other is often misused for the sake of selfish gain, for physical pleasure, pride in power, popularity or money. According to psychiatrists, husbands often complain that their wives tyrannize over them because of the power that physical attraction gives them in the matter of marital dues. This likewise shows a lack of fear of Jehovah, for his Word commands wives to be in subjection “to their husbands in everything.”—Eph. 5:24.
The power of personality can also be misused, and it often is by politicians, clergymen, actors and actresses. Because of physical charm, a keen wit, a strong will, a vivid imagination, a ready flow of language, these individuals are able to influence other people and they do so for selfish gain. All such foster creature worship, showing that they do not have the fear of Jehovah.
Well has the poet said regarding this matter of power:
“Never a treasure without a following
shade of care,
“Never a power without the lurk of a
Would you avoid this snare? Then make Bible study a habit, for it will instill in you the fear of Jehovah, which is the start of wisdom.—Prov. 9:10.