[March 18]--Righteousness and Government

Prov. 28:15, 28; 29:2, 12; 20:26; 16:12

You might've noticed that I haven’t gotten a lot into politics on this blog, and there’s a good reason. I have strong political beliefs, but for the most part I intend to keep them out of this venue. Mostly it's because the Bible doesn’t specifically address most of the political debates which we’re having at the moment. There are some broad issues which the Bible speaks on, like capital punishment or abortion, but there’s no verse to which anyone can point as to how high taxes ought to be, or whether we should be in Iraq, or whether God wants a universal health care system. Christians on both sides can point to passages which they think bolsters their argument, and sometimes they have some merit. But Alistair Begg summarized it well: The main things are the plain things, and the plain things are the main things. We need to be extra cautious not to inappropriately link the Bible to any political program or party. I do have another blog in which I try to hammer out where the Bible meets politics, if you happen to be curious about I think about more specific issues.

Having said all that, the book of Proverbs has some things to point out about righteousness in government, points on which Christians of every political stripe should agree. Solomon was a king and the son of a righteous king, so he definitely knew what he was talking about. Please don’t misunderstand me: I’m not trying to apply this to any particular Presidential administration, either past or present. There have been administrations on both sides of the aisle which have fallen far short of the standards which we’re going to discuss.

So what does it say about this topic? First and foremost, we need to understand how important this is. It’s really easy, when our “guy” is in power, to overlook what he’s doing that’s unjust or dishonest. We can't do that. Government, even a democratic representative one like we have, can be very dangerous, and will destroy lives if it’s in bad hands. Look at what bad government is compared to. First, it’s like a “roaring lion or charging bear,” a wild animal which devours everyone in its path. Nowadays we can go to zoos and point and laugh at the animals in cages. But the author knew quite well that these things are not to be trifled with. And of course people go into hiding when something dangerous is on the loose, as 25:28 tells us. And finally it’s compared to a crushing burden, one which causes people to “groan” like they did in Egypt (another unrighteous government).

And there’s one more bad result listed in 29:12, which is even more insidious. A leader who allows dishonesty in his administration will open the door to corruption, and it’ll spread like gangrene from the top down. Dishonesty becomes the standard, and trust is eventually dissolved.

But a righteous leader can reverse this, at least to some degree. Of course every administration at every level of leadership is going to be infected by sin to some degree. But there’s a huge difference between a king like David, a good man who occasionally did bad things, and a bad king like Ahab who never made the effort. And what do we notice about a righteous leader? Well, according to 20:26 he has a “zero tolerance” policy regarding this mess. Of course, we don’t live in a theocracy like ancient Israel, so it’s not a President’s job to deal with wickedness in the same way that David did. Under the New Covenant initiated by Christ, our weapons in this age are spiritual--not of the world--when it comes to issues like this. But what’s his attitude towards dishonesty and injustice among his aides and others who work for him?

And there are great benefits to this, as noted in 16:12. Again, we don’t live in a monarchy. But why was a king’s throne “established through righteousness”? Because this kind of leader inspires loyalty. Honesty and integrity will cause someone to stick with a leader when there are plenty of reasons not to.

So how does this apply to us? I’m not a President, nor do I have his ear. But I can pray for him like I’m commanded to. And this provides all of us with a good, even selfish, motivation to pray that the people who lead our nation, from the White House on down, are people of righteousness. We need leaders who try to follow God’s plan and who attempt to live up to these standards. We can’t afford not to have this, can we?

Lord Jesus, you are the King of kings and Lord of lords, and the heart of the king is in your hand. You direct it like a watercourse wherever you please. Please steer our leaders towards righteousness.

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