On this election day, a few thoughts from Scripture.
Samuel, the prophet and judge in Israel, upon his retirement from his post, did what most politicians today would call an uncharacteristic—and politically dangerous—thing. He gathered the leaders of the people together and made this announcement:
“Here I stand. Testify against me in the presence of the Lord and his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Whose donkey have I taken? Whom have I cheated? Whom have I oppressed? From whose hand have I accepted a bribe to make me shut my eyes? If I have done any of these, I will make it right.”
What a dangerous proposition, asking everyone if they could point out anything in his life that was dishonest during his entire time in public service. Can you imagine anyone doing that now? The accusations, true or false, would fly. Yet here is how the people responded:
“You have not cheated or oppressed us,” they replied. “You have not taken anything from anyone’s hand.”
Samuel said to them, “The Lord is witness against you, and also His anointed is witness this day, that you have not found anything in my hand.” “He is witness,” they said.
How wonderful to come to the end of a high position in society and be able to walk away with a clear conscience, to have lived a life that testifies to integrity in all matters. How wonderful . . . and how rare.
The prophet Daniel lived in exile in Babylon and in the Persian kingdom after Babylon fell. He gained high government positions through his talent and integrity. The new Persian king recognized what a treasure he had in Daniel. The book that bears his name records,
Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.
At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.
His integrity so angered them that they had to set a trap and find him guilty of continuing to worship the Lord after they tricked the king into making a law that no one was to petition any god but the king for thirty days.
The penalty for breaking that law was to be thrown into the lions’ den.
We all know the end of that story, as God protected Daniel and brought judgment on his persecutors instead.
The examples of Samuel and Daniel show us what it can be like when people are devoted to God and won’t allow their integrity to be compromised. There can be such people in public office. Our task is to put those kind there as much as humanly possible.
These examples tell us that character does matter in government and that it should matter to those of us who choose government officials at all levels.
That’s all I have to say about that. I think that is sufficient on this election day.