April 11, 2018 • Life for Leaders
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms…
Words are fantastic tools for communication. But sometimes our words fail us. When someone has done something unusually wonderful for us, “thank you” seems so inadequate. “Thank you very much” seems pretty weak as well. Often, we end up heaping words on top of words to convey the magnitude of our gratitude: “Oh, thank you so much. I am very, very, very, grateful. This is great. I appreciate what you did for me. Thank you.”
In Paul’s prayer for the readers of Ephesians, he does something very similar to this. As you may recall, Paul had already prayed that we would know God better, including the hope we have in God and the fact that we are his treasured inheritance. In verses 19 and 20, Paul adds one further request, “[I pray that you may know God better…] and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead.”
As we have seen time and again in Ephesians 1, English translators struggle to render Paul’s exuberant Greek into coherent English. The NIV does this in our passage by putting a period after “believe” and starting a new sentence. In the original language, however, we have one, long, connected thought, which reads something like this: “[I pray that you might know] what is the exceeding greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the energetic working of the might of his strength.” You’ll notice there are four words here with more or less the same meaning: power, energy, might, and strength. Why is Paul heaping up the synonyms? Because he wants to underscore the exceeding greatness of God’s power, what the NIV rightly renders as “his incomparably great power.”
To put it more casually, God’s power is really, really, really, really great. Did you catch that? God’s strength is mighty strong. God’s power exceeds our ability to grasp it, not to mention find words to represent it. Yet Paul’s prayer assumes that we can, in some way, know God’s power. We can experience it, at least to an extent. We can understand it, in part. Thus, we join Paul in praying for the knowledge of God’s power as we grow to know God better.
I’ll have more to say about this in the next devotion. For now, let me encourage you to consider the following questions.
Something to Think About:
When you think of God’s power, what comes to mind?
How have you experienced God’s power in your life?
Where in your life right now would you like to see God’s power at work?
Something to Do:
Jot down a list of ways you have experienced God’s power in your life. Ask the Lord to help you remember. Then, use this list to thank him specifically for the ways he has made his power known to you.
Gracious God, Almighty God, the word “almighty” doesn’t really begin to represent your might adequately, but it does point in the right direction. You are powerful. You are energetic. You are mighty. You are strong. Help me, I pray, to know you as a God of incomparably great power. May I live today, and every day, in light of this knowledge. Let your power be at work in and through me. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
The Power of God’s Kingdom
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.