Sunday, March 29, 2009

Advice From Jethro

With increasing evidence, our politicians and the systems under which they serve are becoming more and more corrupt. The new Obama administration, having gained popularity and power ostensibly by promising a high standard of ethics, has been a big disappointment. The previous Bush administration can hardly claim to have been any better. The similarities to a “banana republic” grow more evident every week.

Since the November 2008 election, we have seen: a governor impeached for attempting to sell a Senate seat, a Senate appointee get caught up in lying about campaign contributions involving that same governor, and a multitude of pending government appointees who forgot to pay their taxes. Any regular American found guilty of this last offense would certainly have to pay a fine and may even be subject to jail time. Not so the lofty political appointee, who must temporarily endure some negative press, but then is allowed to take the new government position after paying the back-taxes (with no interest penalty). One of those officials was then placed in charge of the Internal Revenue Service – irony, but not of the delicious sort.

When I read these news stories and ponder my increasing distrust of our government, my first thought is that we should sweep all of our current elected officials out of office. Then, start anew with a fresh crop, and allow them to serve one, and only one, term – call it six years. The temptations and waste associated with re-election machinations would be reduced, and we might entreat a group of properly-motivated individuals to govern.

This is a tempting idea, but I’m reminded of some sound advice about governing officials from the Old Testament. In Exodus 18, we see Moses fulfilling the role of political leader for the nation of Israel. His every waking moment is spent as judge and decision-maker, because he indicates that he is the only one to hear cases and make decisions for that entire nation of people. When his father-in-law, Jethro, hears of this (perhaps you were thinking of a different Jethro when you read the title?), he offers some sage advice. He counsels Moses to divide up the duties of governing among a few men, leaving only the more weighty cases for Moses to preside over. Specifically, in verse 21, Jethro names the qualifications of these men – “choose men who fear God and hate bribes”.

Wow – those are words dripping with wisdom. Imagine for a moment a government populated by men and women who not only have agreed ethically to avoid bribes, but who actually hate the practice of lobbying and influence-peddling. This would motivate them to look for truth and wisdom in places other than those which deliver financial gain or power to themselves – a far cry from most of our politicians on Capitol Hill today.

And this source would be the other half of Jethro’s advice – direction and wisdom should come from the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 1:7). Without this, our nation would be left to the ever-changing whim of man - sound familiar? But God is unchanging and wise beyond our wildest imagination. What better source could we ask for?

Perhaps a change is coming. It has before, in this very country. Less than 250 years ago, the founding fathers of America split from a tyrannical king who had clearly renounced God’s ways. We could do it again. Now is the time to proudly advocate for godly government - much like Jethro did - and ready our children to take on the mantle of God-fearing, bribe-hating leadership. I will gladly follow them.

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