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The Ways of Power and Influence

Giving Power Obligation

Source: “Paying Tribute: What Chinese New Year's Gift-Giving Tells Us About China” by Shijian Zi, Chinese version originally published in the Economic Observer , translated and published on WorldCrunch.com, 1/23/12

Link to Source: Click here to view source

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2014-04-25

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 9:15

Author: Illustration Exchange
6

ILLUSTRATION

With the beginning of the 2012 Chinese New Year on January 23rd, the EO reports, “Every corner of Beijing is full of people who need ‘to pay and be paid tribute to’ for the Chinese New Year. It requires money, time and most of all: knowledge in the ways of power and influence.”
 
What do the ways of “power and influence” have to do with gift giving? Aren’t gifts meant to be a simple expression of honor, affection, or appreciation? Clearly, that is not a universal norm. In China, the article continues, “… gift-giving is … often a one-way street. There is the less common exchanging of gifts, but most people give presents to someone to signal the future benefits they expect to be returned from the recipients. …  In both urban and rural settings, a gift is a means of developing one’s power and profiting in return.”

APPLICATION

To the Western ear a “gift” given with the clear intent to secure a favor or benefit sounds more akin to a bribe. We’d be less than honest, however, to pretend that our own motives in giving are always pure.

Have you ever given a gift to a boss or co-worker in hopes of gaining favor? Have you ever gifted a neighbor in hopes they might one day feel obliged to pick up your mail or newspaper while you go on vacation? And even when the giving is a two-way exchange, have you ever felt that twinge of disappointment when the gift you opened is in some way less than the one you gave?

It would appear that there is a bit of bribery in most of the gifts we give.
 
And then there's the sacrifice of Christ. Jesus died to make payment for our sins and to offer us the gift of eternal life. He died so that we might live, He was cursed so that we might find favor, He was condemned so that we might profit in return.
 
“Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15)

Do-Overs

Compassion Grace Obligation

Link to Source: Click here to view source

Contributed By: Steve Goodier | Date Posted: 2013-06-24

Scripture: 2 Kings 5:1

Author: Steve Goodier
4

ILLUSTRATION

Author Dr. Seuss says in his book The Lorax, "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not."

Perhaps you've heard the inspiring story of former Mayor Anthony Williams. Williams was born to an unwed teen who gave him up. He was known as a "problem child" in foster care. By age three, little Anthony had still never spoken a word. It seemed that a pattern for his life was set, that is, until two warm and caring people took a chance on him.

Anthony was taken in by an opera-singing postal clerk and her equally generous-hearted husband. He soon began to speak and eventually thrived in their home. He excelled academically and later attended both Harvard and Yale Universities.

In 1998, he came from obscurity to win 66% of the vote to become mayor in one of the world’s major cities. In his inaugural address, Williams said: "Forty-four years ago, my parents adopted me and gave me a second chance. I feel this city has now adopted me and I will give to it everything my parents taught me about love, service, commitment."

APPLICATION

It’s no doubt that, had he never been adopted into his particular family, Williams life would have been wholly different. He was saved by a second chance. He got a do-over on his birth family.

Haven’t you been given do-overs on relationships, jobs, blown opportunities and the like? Haven't you benefited from the generosity of someone who cared? Hasn't God been generous toward you, granting you countless do-overs?

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not."

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience" (Colossians 3:12).

Asking The Wrong Question

Love for God Motivation Legalism

Source: preacherpollard.com

Link to Source: Click here to view source

Contributed By: Neal Pollard | Date Posted: 2020-08-16

Scripture: Hebrews 10:25

Author: Neal Pollard
5

ILLUSTRATION

  • I’ve never heard the avid fisherman say, “Do I have to go back to the lake?”
  • I’ve never heard the shopaholic say, “How often do I have to go to the store?”
  • I’ve never heard the committed sports fan say, “How many games do I have to watch?”
  • I’ve never heard the foodie say, “How often do I have to try a new restaurant or dish?”
  • I’ve never heard the head-over-heels-in-love say, “How many times do I have to see him/her each week?”
  • I’ve never heard the devoted mom say, “How often must I hold my baby?”

APPLICATION

We’ve lost the battle when our sermons, articles, and classes center around answering the question, “How often must I assemble? How many times a week do I have to come to church? Are Sunday night and Wednesday night mandatory?”

How unnatural for a disciple, a committed follower of Jesus who is in love with Him and who has such a relationship with Him that He is priority number one, to approach the assemblies in such a way! MustHave to? You see, the question is wrong. The mentality and approach is where the work needs to occur.

When Jesus and His Church are my passion, the thought-process becomes “I get to,” “I want to,” and “I will!” Neither parents, grandparents, spouses, elders, preachers, siblings, nor anyone else should have to get behind to push the one who has put Jesus at the heart and center of their lives.

"Let us not neglect meeting together, as some have made a habit, but let us encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:25). 

Drawn to the Well

Legalism Calling God's Love

Contributed By: Gabriel Carnes | Date Posted: 2019-03-29

Scripture: John 4:14 ; John 10:27

Author: Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch
8

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What Shamu Taught Me About Marriage

Marriage Humor Motivation

Contributed By: John Reed | Date Posted: 2018-07-21

Scripture: 1 Peter 4:8

Author: Amy Sutherland
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How To Get Things Done In Russia

Servanthood Control Motivation

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2018-04-16

Author: Illustration Exchange
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The Drowning Stranger Dilemma

Morality Atheism Motivation

Contributed By: Mitchell Dillon | Date Posted: 2017-05-03

Author: "Matt" at Well Spent Journey
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The Law of Love

Legalism Love (Divine) Reconciliation

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2017-03-19

Scripture: Galatians 5:14

Author: Illustration Exchange
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The Protracted Replay Of Bitterness

Forgiveness Bitterness Motivation

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2017-01-07

Scripture: Ephesians 4:26

Author: Illustration Exchange
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God Is Watching You

God's Omnipresence Perspective Motivation

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2016-11-18

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 2:17 ; Hebrews 4:13

Author: Illustration Exchange
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