For Whom Should I Vote?
In Exodus 18, we find Moses becoming weary by listening to every strife among the Israelites. His father-in-law, Jethro gives him advice by God’s command (verse 23) to help relieve the stress. Moses was to set up rulers of thousands, ruler of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. This could equate to our federal, state, county, and city governments. In verses 21, Jethro gave qualifications for the individuals that would be selected to fill these positions. These qualifications should be applied to examining a candidate for public office today.
Able men is the first qualification listed. Please allow the word men to apply to both men and women that may be running for public office. The word able has the idea of strength and ability. A candidate needs to be strong. This strength is not necessarily referring to physical strength, although there is a measure of physical strength needed to maintain the schedule of an elected official. Think for a moment the energy used in public speaking and the hours of reading. The elected official needs to have an endurance for the task, and must be willing to work hard. Solomon reminds us in Ecclesiastes 9:10, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might.”
Another area of strength a candidate must have is a strength of conviction, and a courage to face opposition. God reminded Joshua of these requirements in Joshua 1:6, “Be strong and of a good courage for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them.” Joshua needed to be reminded to be resolute and firm in his convictions, so must a candidate be unwavering.
Discernment and discretion are also characteristics of able men. An elected official will face temptations of compromising circumstances and situations, and must be able to use discern what is right. The Psalmist said in Psalm 112:5, “A good man sheweth favour, and lendeth: he will guide his affairs with discretion.”
Such as Fear God
The second qualification Jethro gave was ones who fear God. So many have bought into the lie that it does not matter what one believes, but the truth is what one believes will dictate how they will govern. Issues of abortion, marriage, freedom, foreign policy, and a host of others are affected by what one believes.
Ask if the candidate truly knows Jesus Christ as personal Savior. How can one have a proper fear of God apart from a relationship with God? If you believe decisions should be made based on the principles of God’s Word then find a candidate that is not ashamed to be a Christian. Our first president George Washington recognized the importance of a God fearing person in government in his quote, “It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible.”
The fear of God does not mean that we cower in a corner, but rather means having a proper respect and awe for God. Unfortunately, this is something that has been lost in America today. The word awesome has been cheapened by its overuse. We are to live in awe of who God is, and what He has done. God is all-powerful and spoke the world into existence. God created the family and government, so one that has a proper fear of God will desire to follow God’s commands for these institutions. God is love, and He loved the world enough to send His only begotten Son to die for this world. Let us have a true fear of our God.
There are several ways the fear of God will make a good candidate. The first is that one who fears God will rule with wisdom. Solomon said, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding,” Proverbs 9:10. We need leadership with Godly wisdom. Of course, a person who truly fears God will acknowledge their need for wisdom and will follow the words of James 1:5, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”
Another way the fear of the LORD makes a good candidate is that it will keep him humble and seeking good. Again the words of Solomon in Proverbs 8:13, “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the forward mouth do I hate. An elected official who does not fear God tends to have an undue self-worth. In other words, they feel they are the ultimate authority. This happens with many judges, for if they do not believe there is a higher law (God’s law) and a higher Judge (Jesus Christ), then they become the ultimate law and judge. The one that understands the words of Romans 13:1-4 recognizes that God placed them in office as a minister or servant. This individual will pattern their public service after the pattern of Jesus who said, “If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.”
Men of Truth
Jethro continued with the qualification of men of truth. We should seek leadership that is honest and true in all dealings. Find out if they have had shading business dealings in the past, or can they say with David, “Judge me, O LORD; for I have walked in mine integrity; I have trusted also in the LORD; therefore I shall not slide,” Psalm 26:1. A man of truth will have integrity; one that will make a promise and keep it.
Of course a man of truth is going to be honest in his speech. Paul reminds us in Ephesians 4:25a, “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor.” A truthful speech goes beyond not lying, but also includes not gossiping and slandering. The Holy Spirit, through the pen of Solomon, reminds us in Proverbs 11:9, “An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbour: but through knowledge shall the just be delivered,” and through the pen of Paul in Ephesians 4:29, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”
A man of truth will be a faithful man. Examine is this candidate faithful to his wife. If a man will lie to his wife, he will lie to you. Is he faithful to church? Is he faithful to work? Was he faithful in school? The list could go on, but the point is examine the faithfulness of the candidate.
The final qualification the leaders of Israel were to meet was hating covetousness. God clearly commanded against covetousness in the Ten Commandments, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbour’s.”
Seeking office for profit or unjust gain is covetousness. While it is true that most state level government officials and below do not make much money, there are those that desire the power and prestige that goes with the office. This is an improper motivation to seek office. Also there will be temptations to accept gifts and bribes that will taint the judgment of the individual. Look for a candidate that not only is not covetousness, but hates covetousness.
Sometimes covetousness manifests itself when an individual is up for reelection. An example of this is when Senator Lyndon B. Johnson was up for reelection in 1954. In order to be reelected, he abused his office and introduced the Johnson Amendment on the tax code that prohibits tax-exempt organizations from endorsing or opposing a candidate.
We the people have not held our candidates to these God-given qualifications, and that is why we have the problems we do. Prayerfully consider the candidates in light of these principles. Do not get caught up in the popularity contest, but make Biblically based decisions.
In conclusion let us consider what God has said will happen if we follow these principles. Proverbs 14:34, “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.” This must start with a personal relationship with Christ. There is to be righteousness in our personal lives, our homes, our churches, and our government. Another reminder comes from Proverbs 29:2, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.” We have been blessed to live in a Nation where we the people have the choice of who will rule over us. Let us choose wisely according to the commands of the Bible.