A Real Test of Character: How do we Treat the Powerless?

UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.


[August 31, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]

(Matthew 20:24-28  ESV)  (24) And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers.  (25) But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.  (26) It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,  (27) and whoever would be first among you must be your slave,  (28) even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

I recently read an excellent observation: A very fundamental test of a person’s character is how that person treats people who are less powerful. For example, if someone says “no” to a person they are in relationship of some kind with, and that person has more power in some way than the one who says “no,” then how does the one who is denied react? Do they wield power to get their way and override the “no”? This is a very, very important test of character. Many abuse victims tell stories of how, early in their relationship, the abuser simply would not take “no” for an answer. The victim-to-be however dismissed their pang of uneasiness by telling themselves that “his / her love for me is just so strong.” We should encourage people not to dismiss this very telling character test.

None of us enjoy being told “no” when we want something. Our sin rises up against this obstruction, but if we know Christ and love others, we squelch our sin by the Spirit and don’t insist upon getting our way. (Of course there are times when we must obey God rather than men, and those are the times we must insist on our way because it is really God’s way. The apostles were told to stop speaking the name of Jesus. They didn’t accept this “no.”)

People who use power to get their way over others do the very thing Jesus commands us not to do — lord it over others rather than serving others. Such people do not respect the boundaries of others, but blast right through them. They are not safe people to be in relationship with. How a person treats people who have less power than they do is a fundamental test of a person’s real character. Watch it closely and be wise. A person who abuses power is not a person to enter into a relationship with, and especially not a person to marry. Oh, that we knew what we know now a long, long time ago!

[August 31, 2022: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to August 31, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to August 31, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to August 31, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (August 31, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]

10 thoughts on “A Real Test of Character: How do we Treat the Powerless?”

  1. I’ll never forget seeing Margaret Thatcher give a talk at our local university. I can’t remember a word about what she said, but I will never forget how, when that very tiny lady walked down from the platform, how all the “important people” in their evening finery at the head table preened themselves, preparing for her to come to them so they could escort her out.

    To everyone’s surprise, Mrs. Thatcher turned instead to her left where, in the farthest corner of the room, huddled together as tightly as possible, stood all the kitchen staff, trying to just catch a glimpse of this world leader. She, a grocer’s daughter, had not forgotten her beginnings, and instead of going to see all the rich & famous waiting for her, including the press, she quietly went over to the kitchen staff, shaking every one of their hands and talking to them individually. She made it clear that she was taking time with THEM and that they were important to her. She thanked them for their service to her. Only then did she head over to the ones who paid hundreds of dollars for their tickets.

    By the way, in order for ME to attend (in case you thought I could afford $300 for a meal ticket), I volunteered to take tickets at the door, and got a first-hand taste of lack of eye contact from the important ones, or if there was eye contact at all, the expressed message was of “I’m much superior than you.” Whatever her political leanings, that night made Margaret Thatcher a heroine in my eyes, and forever an example of humility.

  2. You’ve been reading my journals, right?

    I was just talking about this with a friend — the way the husband always had to have his way. If he punched you in the arm (“I’m just having a little fun”) and you asked him to stop, he would narrow his eyes and keep punching until you were quiet long enough and submitted to his will. Then it was his idea to stop because he had better things to do.

    (Only after a year or so, he learned that punching repeatedly in the same spot with one finger would cause bruising, so that became his preferred method to just have a little fun.)

    It got so bad that I could not say anything at all without causing escalation. I learned to keep quiet and let him physically abuse and berate the children because if I did speak up, they got it twice as bad. God forgive me.

    1. Generally, men have more power. Thus, men make up the highest percentage of abusers. But, as sinners, human beings are all prone to abuse power when they have it, male or female. I didn’t read your journals or read your mind 🙂 but this is such a huge, vital subject that it is almost always connected to sin in general. Power. Control. It is behind racism, dictatorships, gender conflicts — you name it. The Lord Jesus is the perfection of holiness — He is the One with all power, yet He came as a servant. And when He comes again with power, He will use it to put a full and final end to all abuse of power forever and ever. The result — the new heavens and new earth where no wickedness dwells. And maybe your anti-husband will have a finger poked and poked on him for all eternity!

  3. Ida Mae — I am sorry he did this to you. And may God forgive all of us, for allowing our husbands, in whatever form, to abuse our children.

  4. Reblogged this on elizabeth goes to church [Internet Archive link] and commented:
    As you read through Pastor Crippen’s blog on this topic, I would simply add that there is more than one way to override the “no” of a weaker vessel. One might choose to force someone to do (or not do) something, over-riding their will. But one might also simply ignore requests for behavioral changes, even requests that are made repeatedly for the ‘stronger’ person or person with more power to change.
    EITHER WAY, the person with power to do so is acting in an abusive way to the other person or persons of less power in the relationship. But too often, we excuse the passive form of the abuse, even though it is just as painful, egregious and INTENTIONAL as the person who simply forces someone else to do what they want. Read on:

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