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Officer, How Much Power Do You Have? Print E-mail
Written by Ray Fairman   
I have known men and women in my career on the streets that pin on a badge and strap their firearm on and go to work powerless. I have also known both who could hit the streets without a weapon or badge and handle every incident to which they were dispatched. Power is no longer found in the badge and firearm or even in the uniform. It is found in the individual officer and is measured in how well they perform their assigned tasks. What should be the source of that power? Well I know where my power came from, though it took me some time before the realization hit me. Click Read More to find out what I finally came to realize.

The Power of the Beatitudes.

The first thing I need to look at is where does the word power come from and what does it really mean. Well if you follow it back far enough you will find it is based on two Greek words, the first of which is "dunimas" which means: force (literally or figuratively); specially, miraculous power (usually by implication, a miracle itself):--ability, abundance, meaning, might(-ily, -y, -y deed), (worker of) miracle(-s), power, strength, violence, mighty (wonderful) work. It is also the word from which we get "Dy-no-mite", as "J.J." would say. Another Greek word for power is "exousia" which means: in the sense of ability; privilege, i.e. (subjectively) force, capacity, competency, freedom, or (objectively) mastery (concretely, magistrate, superhuman, potentate, token of control), delegated influence:--authority, jurisdiction, liberty, power, right, strength.

In Matthew 6:13 the "dunimas" application is indicated while the "exousia" application is implied in Matthew 9:6.

How do you define power? I have slowly learned over the years to define and redefine power as it applies to my varying positions and assignments, but I have always tried to look back to the bible to validate my understanding, though I'll admit I wasn't always as quick to do this as I should have been. When a Christian fails to listen to the Holy Spirit and relies on his or her own judgment, and strength to apply the power of their ordained profession, they are setting themselves up for great disillusionment. Power when uncontrolled (remember, self-control is a gift of the Holy Spirit) is as dangerous as disarming an IED without any EOD training.

I have found that looking back at the nine beatitudes, each of which pronounces a blessing upon those who have certain characteristics, always helps put power in perspective. As I go over these beatitudes, I want you to look for the power, the strength displayed in each object lesson. Meditate on how Christ exemplified His strength and power by His application of each of them and see if you can find a way to apply them in your daily personal interactions.

The first of the nine is: Mt 5:3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (RSV)

To be poor in spirit simply means to have a humble opinion of ourselves. What is your opinion of yourself, does it correlate with the opinion of those around you? It also means to be sensible and remember that we are sinners (spiritual criminals if you will) ourselves, and have no righteousness of our own. Just like the people we serve and serve with. We need to understand that we can be saved only by the grace and mercy of God. Are we willing to be where God places us, to bear what he lays on us, to go where he bids us, and to live or die when he commands? Do we consider, as the poor in spirit, the humble, do, that we are servant leaders and God's hands here on earth. Do we understand that we deserve no special favor from Christ? Are we opposed to pride, and vanity, and ambition or do we seek the recognition of the world?

As for me, I learned that I have to limit my "water walking" to when its raining, in the shower or when the lake is frozen. That verse in Philippians I rely on so often that says, "I can do all things," doesn't end there, it continues with "Through Christ who strengthens me".

Now on to the next beatitude which is: Mt 5:4 "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. (RSV)

God knows you and I have seen a lot during our time on the street, as we call it. If you are new to the brotherhood, them before you retire you will see and understand what I am referring to and what this verse means. When you mourn (feel the true pangs of hurt and sorrow) either for your own sins, or for other men's, and are steadily and habitually serious about that feeling then God will bring the sunshine after the rain. He says you shall be comforted in this world, and eternally in heaven. Are you grieved by sin, your own and those of the men and women we so often deal with, and tried by the evils of our times? Take heart my friend for you a future of rest and rejoicing will be provided. Mt 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (RSV)

Beatitude Number 3: Mt 5:5 "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. (RSV)

This one might seem to be an especially difficult one in which to find a power reference for some of you. Well, not if you view meekness as strength under control, yes the control of the Holy Spirit. Christ was a meek person as a man, but never forget He was and is also God. He could turn the other cheek out of strength and power, not out of fear. Meekness produces peace. It is proof of the true greatness of a person's soul. It comes from a heart that is too great to be moved by little insults. It looks upon those who proffer them with pity. An officer that is constantly ruffled, that takes personally every little insult or injury and lets it throw him off his game plan, and raise a storm of emotion within, is at the mercy of every man, woman or juvenile that chooses to ruffle his feathers as the saying goes. He is like the troubled sea that cannot rest, whose waters stir up mire and dirt. or as an old sheriff I used to work for used to say, "If you roll around with the pigs, you're gonna get dirty."

So how do you respond to the mouthy folks we deal with every shift it seems? Do you use power, force, pride and arrogance? Or with biblical advice such as Pr 15:1 A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. I found that not rising to the verbal bait but maintaining an aura of calm and confidence made folks run the course of obnoxiousness much quicker than becoming involved with them antagonistically. An angry complainant or suspect when not receiving your verbal responses to feed off, runs out of gas much quicker than one who is having their fire stoked by an equally angry officer who feels his position is being challenged and his pride damaged. Meekness respects our neighbor, it consists in forgiving injuries, bearing reproaches, and recompensing good for evil. This may sound difficult, but here in is where the word power comes up again a man or woman filled with the power of the Holy Spirit will not have trouble living up to this standard.

On to beatitude number 4: Mt 5:6 "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. (RSV)

Do you possess an ardently desire to be and do right because it is right? Why do you expect the citizens you serve to do the things you expect them to do? Do you hold them to the same standards you set for yourself? Do you ever speed? Drive after having the infamous "two beers"?

Here Jesus turns one of the most elemental human instincts to spiritual use. There is in all men hunger for food, for love and for God. It is passionate hunger and thirst for goodness, for holiness. Not all men recognize all these basic instincts, that is why they search through sex, drugs, fame and fortune for what is missing. Here Christ points out that to hunger and thirst after righteousness and holiness and those things that bless and not curse others will result in satisfaction. Christians are admonished to keep pressing forward towards these goals, ultimately reaching them in eternity, while the self-satisfied will miss achieving them through self-deception and self-conceit. Do you long to see righteousness have the upper hand all the world over? Where God plants such an insatiable desire, we may be quite sure that he will satisfy it. Our Lord here has declared that those who feel a most intense desire for righteousness shall obtain it. Under no other religion had such a promise ever been given. Under Christianity the promise is clear and definite.

Next, beatitude number 5: Mt 5:7 "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. (RSV)

Mercy? How does that impact power, only those with some type of power can offer mercy. What mercy can those who are vindictive persons expect? Those who forgive nothing, and are always ready to take every advantage they have of avenging themselves? You see whatever mercy a man shows to another, God will take care to show the same to him.

I am going to drop a short excerpt from William Shakespeare's "Merchant Of Venice". It is known as Portia's Mercy Speech.

"The quality of mercy is not strained;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed;
It blesseth him who gives, and him who takes:
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown.
It is an attribute of God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God's,
When mercy seasons justice.--------

Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
That, in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation. We do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy.--------

Why, all the souls that are, were forfeit once:
And he who might the 'vantage best have took
Found out the remedy. How would you be,
If He who is the top of judgment should
But judge you as you are? O! think on that;
And mercy then will breathe within your lips,
Like man, new made.

How shalt thou hope for mercy, rend'ring none?"

God requires us to exercise the compassion and mercy towards others, which we need to have exercised towards us. This in no way relieves a person from suffering the consequences of their choices, because not only is God merciful, but also just. Christians need to be those who,
instead of resenting injury, are ready to forgive and for this they shall obtain Divine mercy. Remember the fifth petition of the Lord's Prayer implies that we must forgive if we expect to be forgiven.

It has been said that Christians forgive, and they are forgiven. They judge charitably, and they shall not be condemned. They help the needy, and they shall be helped in their need. What we are to others, God will be to us. Some have to labor hard with their stinginess in order to be kind; but the blessing lies not only in doing a merciful act, but in being merciful in disposition. Followers of Jesus must be men of mercy; for they have found mercy, and mercy has found them. As we look for “mercy, of the Lord in that day”, we must show mercy in this day. For our rivulet of charity we shall partake of an ocean of mercy.

Now for Beatitude number 6: Mt 5:8 "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. (RSV)

We are all great role players. We learn fast that there are many roles we have to play in order to become good at our job. We can be sympathetic to the lowest of the low if it will make things easier for us and we can be the in your face "explicative deleted" when necessary if we think that is what it takes to bring our incident to a successful conclusion. When working a U/C assignment you had better live the role you are playing or you may not get another chance to visit the roll call room. However, here God is saying there are some things that require a more heart felt approach and that role-playing will not do where these things are concerned. It will take the power of moral and sometimes physical courage to exhibit these roles right from your heart.

Being pure in heart, is not a role. It is a statement of contrast highlighting the strictly ceremonial purity of the Pharisees and Scribes.

Do you play a role like the Pharisees, who displayed an outward purity, while harboring hearts that were full of corruption and defilement? Christ here shows that a purification of the heart, from all vile affections and desires, is essentially requisite in order to enter into the Kingdom of God. This requires the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. A DEFILED HEART CANNOT SEE GOD.

Are you one of those folks whose minds, motives, and principles are pure. Who seek not only to have their external actions correct, but who desire to be holy in heart, and who are so. You see man looks on the outward appearance, but God looketh on the heart. Why? Because a pure heart begets a pure life; an impure heart, a corrupt life. Therefore, Jesus demands that the heart, the affections and the mind, shall be purified, as they are the source from whence flows the moral and ethical Christian life. And talk about "dunimas power", that kind of witnessing power can blow the devil's work to Hell and then some.

Without holiness no man will see the Lord in heaven. Heb 12:14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. This Beatific Vision is only possible here on earth to those with pure hearts. There is no other way a man can see the King since sin fogs and clouds the heart so completely that one cannot see God while his heart is corrupted. To clear the eye we must cleanse the heart. Lord, create in me a clean heart, that I may behold thee, both now and for ever!

Are you free from the evil desires and purposes of those whose hearts are defiled with carnal hopes and self-righteous pride? They failed to see and understand God because only those who have in themselves some moral resemblance to Him shall ever comprehend the motives and actions of God.

Beatitude number 7: Mt 5:9 "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. (RSV)

I have heard this verse applied to our profession frequently. The question for you is does it apply to your life, actions and witness?

Who are the peacemakers. They are those who strive to prevent contention, and strife, and war. Who use their influence to reconcile opposing parties, and to prevent lawsuits, and hostilities, in families and neighborhoods. While we are not "little gods", no man is more like God than one who does these things. God is the Author of peace; all those who endeavor to promote peace are like him, and are worthy to be called his children. Peacemakers are those that out of love to God and man do all possible good to all men. That sounds like a powerful witnessing opportunity to me. Is it any wonder that God ordained our profession ( Rom 13:4). One would imagine a person of this amiable temper and behavior would be the darling of mankind. But our Lord well knew it would not be so, as long as Satan was the prince of this world. He therefore warned us before hand of the treatment we all were to expect. He gave us the power of the Holy Spirit to help us with the fight we were to face. You see I have found that while it is hard enough to keep the peace, it is an even more difficult task to bring peace where it is not.

There is a deeper meaning not to be overlooked. He cannot well make peace with or among others who has not first tried to make peace for and within himself. This internal peace can only be founded on the peace of God. Philippines 4:7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Our 8th beatitude is: Mt 5:10 "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (RSV)

I don't even have to ask you and it goes with out saying. Every time you get cops together (and this includes deputies) the conversation turns at some point to how badly we are treated. Well, I have learned over the years that for the most part a little grumbling is good for morale, but I also learned that any fool can criticize and most fools do. Are we the only ones in history treated badly? Lets take a look at biblical history.

Since the religion of Christ (drop your denominational prejudices for a moment, I am talking about biblical Christianity) gives no quarter to vice, so the viciousness of the world will give no quarter to this religion, or to its professors. it has been this way since its inception and will continue through Revelation (in case you never read the book or saw the movie). We are not to intentionally seek persecution, nor are we to provoke it by strange sentiments or conduct, or by violating the laws of civil society, or by modes of speech that are unnecessarily offensive to others. But if, in the honest effort to be a Christian, and to live the life of a Christian, others persecute and revile us, we are told to consider this as a blessing. 2Ti 3:12 All that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. The only homage which wickedness can pay to righteousness is to persecute it.

Just a couple of closing notes on this point before I go on to the last beatitude:

1. All the disciples and followers of Christ, no matter how holy and inoffensively they live in this world, must they expect suffering and persecution.

2. That the keenest and sharpest edge of the sword of persecution is usually turned against the ministers of Christ, and falls heaviest on the prophets of God.

3. Such sufferings and persecutions will afford a man solid comfort, entitle him to real blessedness, and must be endured and undergone for righteousness-sake.

4. It is the will and command of Christ, that those who suffer for him, and for righteousness-sake, should not only be meek and patient, but joyous and cheerful: rejoice, and be exceeding glad in their circumstances.

5. Patient and cheerful suffering for Christ shall be rewarded with glory and blessedness in the life that is to come with a great reward.

Now the last beatitude: Mt 5:11 "Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. (RSV)

I have heard it said "there are two types of cops". The response I heard to that statement varied between the following two comments. "Those who have been sued and those who are going to be sued" and "those who have had complaints filed against them and those who are going to have complaints filed against them". I have also heard the statement "No good deed goes unpunished." I am sure at least most of us deal with these unwarranted allegations appropriately. We do consider them intrusions on our lives and wish they didn't impact our families. Well God wishes His family (that's us folks) wasn't impacted by the complaints the world has with him, but He knows we will be affected so He prepares us with the promise of this beatitude.

When the evil which is said of you is false, remember what was said of Christ who suffered unjustly for all of our sins, and not justly for anything He did.

Persecution of the tongue, which is more common today, is still no less cruel than that of the hand. Slander is unscrupulous, and indulges in accusations of “all manner of evil”. No crime is too base to be laid at the door of the innocent; nor will the persecutor have any hesitation in exaggerating the vileness of the charge. The rule seems to be, “Throw plenty of mud, and some of it will stick.” You need to remember that there is no mud in heaven; the streets are made of gold. You are not alone in facing this contemptuous behavior: “So persecuted they the prophets.” They would first become aware of the coldness of their brethren before the secret hate became outspoken and active. Later they found themselves excommunicated from the synagogue. That was followed by bitter reproaches and blasphemy of the sacred name by which they were called--the name Christian. Christians were charged with incendiarism, cannibalism and every infamy imaginable. This would finally culminate in bloody-handed persecution, and procure the death of Christ's followers by forms of law; all manner of false and evil accusations would be brought against them.

Well, I think its time to bring this to a close, but I want you to reflect on the power you have as a Christian, A Cop (or Deputy), a Christian Cop (or Christian Deputy) and on the power it takes to get through your daily grind. As you meditate think of the power of the Holy Spirit and how much easier it is to do the things you and I do with his power working through us. I for one don't want to be without it. I don't see how anyone can go through life as a cop without Christ in their lives. I guess that accounts for my 38 years of marriage while our profession sports a 70-75 percent divorce rate.

If you haven't taken time to pray lately, God is still there and busy listening to prayer, so get things right with Him and call on His strength to help chart your course through life. We are all sinners who fall far short of the Glory of God, but He has provided a propitiation for our sinfulness in His Son Jesus Christ who died for each of us individually so that we could become children of the one true God and spend eternity with Him in heaven. Ask Christ to be your Lord and savior today. Take advantage of His strength and power early in your career, don't wait and make the job more difficult that it has to be.

God bless you all

Chaplain Ray

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