The Power of a Pawn

In the game of Chess, the various pieces have different powers and values. The Pawn, for example, is generally the least valuable and most expendable piece on the board. But this is not always the case. Many a naïve chess player has come up on the losing end because he underestimated the power of a pawn. For as inoffensive and weak as the pawns may seem in the beginning of the game, as they advance on the board, their power and consequent value increases to the point that it can become a Queen, the most powerful piece on the board. Even in the games of the greatest International Grandmasters of Chess, a single advanced pawn may be the difference between victory or defeat.

Chess is not the only human activity in which we tend to neglect and underestimate the potential power of seemingly insignificant things. In the game of life itself, man depreciates his fellowman because of race, education, appearance, or other factors. Yet we know that from the ranks of the under-privileged and oppressed have arisen some of the greatest names in history. This demonstrates how wrong man can be when he fails to consider the value and potential of human Pawns. For as they progress, they can become mighty. Apparent insignificance is not always the opposite of greatness.

Even some "religious" people look down their noses at the "little man." Many a big city church openly caters to the worldly-wise and wealthy. Even in our own congregations we witness some of this. If a new family, in the middle or upper-income bracket, visits services, some congregations move heaven and earth to effect an early contact and try to influence them to become members. On the other hand, there are instances when a minority group family attends, or someone visits who obviously makes little money, and only nominal efforts are made to encourage them. This writer once heard an elder of the church exhort other members to purposely seek out the higher-income prospects in order to bolster a lagging budget!

All of this is in such sharp contrast with the practice of our Lord who circulated freely at all levels of society, but especially among the humble and poor. He said, "Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:4). Paul said, "For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, nor many mighty, nor many noble, are called...." (1 Corinthians 1:26).

The neglected pawn of today could well become a faithful Christian, a godly elder, a talented preacher, or the devoted mother of a whole dynasty of Christians, if properly encouraged. May God hasten the day when we can all put aside worldly attitudes and recognize the great value and potential of the most lowly individual.