By: Anonymous;Credit breakpoint.com
“The Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom He will.” Daniel 4:32
Character matters in every sphere of life. It is the ground of decision-making of all kinds. It determines what kinds of relationships we will have, and with whom. It is the basis of trust and respect on the one hand, or manipulation and contempt on the other.
This is as true in the political arena as everywhere else. History is fraught with examples of men and women in various government capacities whose low character has led in some cases to horror (Stalin, Hitler, Mao) or simple graft (both parties at every level of governance can boast myriads of such examples).
Then there are those whose hubris, arrogance, materialism, and self-involvement have led to authoritarianism, contempt for law, and studied ignorance of critical issues. They rule by dint of an unwarranted confidence in their own wisdom, personalize every disagreement, and infuse every event in which they participate with their outsized sense of self.
The Bible speaks to the importance of character in all things, including those we allow to rule us. Here is a list, distilled from the passages noted below, of those things that should be either present or absent in anyone in civil authority—perhaps most especially that handful entrusted with great power, particularly the presidency of the United States.
Reverence for God: The knowledge that we are all responsible to the highest authority encourages good behavior and discourages wrongdoing. Fear of God results in humility and a recognition of one’s own mortality and finiteness, the antitheses of the pride and vauntedness of self found in all too many current and would-be politicians.
Wisdom: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” writes Solomon (Proverbs 1:7). We make prudent choices based, foundationally, on the recognition that obedience to God—the infinitely wisest of all beings—is always the best path to pursue.
Honesty: “Any man who would steal for me would steal from me,” Theodore Roosevelt is reported to have said when, as a ranchman, he fired a cowboy trying to place TR’s brand on a neighbor’s steer. Dishonesty might start small, but it cascades if unchecked, leading to anything from theft and unreliability to debauchery and killing.
Fidelity: Faithfulness to one’s wife was a prerequisite for ruling ancient Israel. The collapse of the first Jewish state was due in no small degree to the kings’ immoral lifestyles, the examples they set, and the judgment of God that followed. It is worth remembering, too, that a leader who would lie to his or her spouse would lie to his or her country. We saw that happen in 1998, and with it came great social and political turmoil, not to mention a moral wounding of our nation’s youth. A leader who boasts of his sexual exploits should give all Americans great concern.
Shunning greed and power-hunger: The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, says Paul the Apostle (1 Timothy 6:10), and the love of power is another such root. Both are idols. Those who pursue them become enslaved to them, as with any false god, and should not be permitted to lead others. Moreover, when greed and power become obsessions, care for those in need and responsibility to those being governed become lost in a haze of pride and disinterest.
Commitment to justice: This is more than either private charity or governmental redistribution. It is about treating everyone as a person of equal value before God and, therefore, the law. It means disregarding social status or personal wealth as means of privileging some and diminishing others. Rewarding the good through sustaining ordered liberty and punishing, proportionately and fairly, lawbreakers are essential functions of government and those who lead it.
Aiding the oppressed and needy: The Constitution of our country gives the federal government no warrant to take private resources from some and distribute them to others. Helping those in need is best done by those closest to them: churches, charities, state and local governments. American political leaders should not act as kings who hand out baubles to the dependent, anxious masses.
Political leadership is impermanent. Those holding it do so only for the vaporous time allotted to them (James 4:14). And God’s utter sovereignty is unchallenged by the puny efforts of anyone to dethrone Him, whether such an effort is conscious or not.
The God of the Bible is the eternal and universal King and the true Lord of the all the earth. No man or woman is a substitute for Him. Here are some passages from God’s Word that teach us how He regards those who would strut onto political stages, more occupied with themselves than those they wish to lead:
Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. (Psalm 2:1-4)
Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as the dust on the scales; behold, [God] takes up the coastlands like fine dust. Lebanon would not suffice for fuel, nor are its beasts enough for a burnt offering. All the nations are as nothing before Him, they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness. . . . It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in; Who brings princes to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness. Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when He blows on them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble. (Isaiah 40:15-17, 22-24)
Only men and women of character need apply for any position in public service. As caucuses, primaries and, ultimately, the fall election all draw ever nearer, Christians should—must—remember that.
For further study, see Exodus 18:21; Deuteronomy 1:13, 17:14-20; I Samuel 8:1-21; II Samuel 23:3; II Chronicles 26:16-18; Psalm 72:2, 12-14; Proverbs 8:15-16, 20:8, 29:4; Isaiah 9:7, 11:1-5; and Matthew 20:25.