As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.” Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all your possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.
(Mark 10:17-22, NASB)
Gratitude is not greedy for power, possessions, or prestige. Gratitude graciously bows out when it is time.
Perfect peace is found not in trying to achieve power, but in using the power and platform God has given you for such a time as this.
Only a few men in history have set them selves apart for the power they graciously relinquished. They knew when to walk away in order that the greater good would be served in their absence. Consider:
Moses, relinquished the rights of an adopted grandson of the Pharaoh in order to remember the plight of his people. In so doing, he hastened his humble service to rescue God’s people from slavery and captivity.
(Moses) considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen.
(Hebrews 11:26-27, NASB)
Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, “a man who neither sought power nor held on to it when his duties had been fulfilled.” (The Cincinnatus Association) Cincinnatus, for whom the city in Ohio is named, was a Roman citizen who was offered endless power and, instead, returned to his farm after saving his country in battle.
George Washington, known as the American Cincinnatus, was not only America’s first president, the model for all who would hold the title after him to emulate, but a man who walked away from power twice so that the great American experiment would not falter under the unbearable weight of a king.
Who can imagine that the liberty of millions might depend on the character of one man? What was it that gave him the strength to do the right thing when the temptation to do something less noble must have been overwhelming?
More than two hundred years after Washington’s death, his willingness to relinquish power–twice–is the most remarkable thing that we remember about him. These refusals to seize power for himself were the greatest acts of one of history’s greatest men.
(7 Men and the Secret of Their Greatness, Eric Metaxas)
Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, left the honor and majesty of heaven to come to the squalor and filth of earth. He left His throne in heaven to be laid in a cradle, and later hung on a cross before conquering the enemy of death and sin once and for all. (See Philippians 2) It is to Jesus that we owe all gratitude and praise. If it were not for His modeled call to lay down our lives, his example as He resisted the urging of even His closest friends and disciples to siege power over people before the appointed time, then we would not one day receive the power to be joint errs and rulers with Jesus in Heaven.
Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.
(1 Timothy 6:17, NASB)
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;
(Philippians 2:3, NASB)
We, like the rich young ruler in the first passage above, may have choices in our future to posture ourselves in gracious gratitude and service to Christ, or to walk away with our possessions, power, or prestige in hand; heavy in heart and guilt. Being the gracious ten percent includes knowing when to walk away from the things of this earth in order to walk toward the person and mission of Christ. May we choose to follow Christ’s example.
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But he gives us even more grace to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but favors the humble.” (James 4:6, NLT)