R6 The misuse of power


Most situations today where people suffer injustice, and are not allowed to live with dignity, are the result of power being used for the wrong reasons. People who are given power and authority have special demands placed upon them to use their power for the benefit of others. However, power can be used poorly or abused – either through lack of care, corruption or for personal gain. Injustice can occur when those with power neglect to carry out their responsibilities, or force others to act in certain ways.

People who are poor often feel completely without power. Yet each person can have some influence. By working together, that influence increases. People who are poor and who suffer injustice need to be supported in gaining confidence to challenge the misuse of power. In doing so, they will gain some power and influence.

Seeking justice is a slow, often painstaking process. Sometimes it can be almost impossible within countries where deception and corruption are common. But no suffering goes unnoticed by God.

  • Read 1 Kings 21:1-16. This is the story of Naboth’s vineyard and of how power was misused with terrible consequences. Why did King Ahab want Naboth’s vineyard? Why did Naboth not want to sell the vineyard?
  • Why did Jezebel go to such trouble with her plans to kill Naboth? Was it legal? Was it just?
  • What was God’s response and judgement on these actions? (Read verses 17-24)
  • How did Ahab respond to this judgement in verse 27?
  • Why did God decide to postpone his sentence in verse 29?
  • Can we think of times when we have been persuaded to do something we know is wrong – like Ahab in this story? If so, take time to reflect and to ask forgiveness. Is there anything we can do to put things right?
  • Can we think of ways in which just laws in our own country are not put into practice? What are the consequences?
  • What can we say to comfort those who have bravely tried to seek justice but have failed because of corruption?

Articles 2, 6, 22 UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights