Visit the electrical extension cord section at the local hardware store, and you’ll discover three basic kinds of cords: light duty, general duty, and heavy duty. The question for the electrical beginner is, “what’s the difference?” After all, other than various colors, there is little at first glance to distinguish a 25-foot light duty cord from a 25-foot heavy duty one.
The difference lies in the power flow the cord can safely conduct over time. Light duty cords use smaller diameter wire that limits the amount of electricity that can flow safely, while general duty and heavy duty cords use progressively larger diameter wire. Light duty cords should be limited to occasional use, general duty cords are suggested for frequent use, and heavy duty cords are recommended for continuous use applications. If a light duty cord is used with a high-draw appliance for too long a period of time, it can overheat, even to the point of starting a fire.
Power cords come to mind as I wrestle with the perceived lack of spiritual power in some churches and individual Christian lives. All Christians want God to pour out more of His supernatural power in us and in our world. We pray with the believers in Acts 4:30, “Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” Moreover, God says He has more than enough power to accomplish His purposes: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…” (Ephesians 3:20).
Wait—that is critical to notice—His power is at work in us; His resurrection power flows through each believer. Given that, and Ephesians 3:20’s clear assertion that God has no power shortage from His side, it follows that the limiting factor in the flow of God’s spiritual impact and power is our “power capacity.” The power problem rests with us, not with God. We may want to see “heavy duty” spiritual power, but if we offer God only “light duty” spiritual maturity as the conduit, the result will be less than stellar. “High amp spiritual power” cannot flow consistently through a “light duty” spiritual life.
This truth is presented with a different metaphor in Hebrews 5:13-14: “Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” A similar thought is shared in 2 Peter 1:5-8: “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
It is certainly appropriate to pray that God would pour out spiritual power, that revival might break out among us, and that He would display His miracles and spiritual impact ever more clearly in our towns, our nation, and the world. However, perhaps we should add another prayer alongside those: “Lord, give me focus and desire to grow in my relationship with you; increase my ‘duty rating’ so that more of that life-changing power might flow through me to impact others.”