State and Speech


This is an election year, and I have many opinions on politics, so I thought I’d share an important one with you today. In the presidential race between John McCain and Hilary Clinton or Barack Obama, I think you should vote for…
 
Just kidding!
 
It’s not my job to tell you whom to vote for. I’m a pastor, after all, not a pundit. My job is to teach you biblical principles, not partisan politics. And when it comes to biblical principles, the Book of Proverbs has many true and useful things to say. Today, I’d like to focus on what it says about state and speech, that is, what kind of advice government officials should give and get.
 
First, the Book of Proverbs sets a high standard for the speech of government officials.
 
The lips of a king speak as an oracle,
and his mouth should not betray justice (16:10).
 
Government officials (literally, “king”) should speak truthfully and justly. They are like prophets (literally, “oracle”), who speak the word of God, which never deceives or misleads.
 
The comparison to an oracle is interesting, for it suggests that government officials are servants of a Greater King, from whom their words derive authority and to whom they must give an account. As servants, the proper frame of mind is humility.
 
Arrogant lips are unsuited to a fool —
how much worse lying lips to a ruler! (17:7)
 
Notice, here, how arrogance and dishonesty go hand in glove! When government officials consider themselves above the law, they feel free to use dishonest means to selfish ends.
 
Second, Proverbs sets a high standard of speech for those who advise highest government officials. The “king” (or president or prime minister) should speak truthfully and justly, but so should his (or her) advisors, cabinet members, or secretaries.
 
Good government officials should crave this kind of straightforward, morally upright advice.
 
 Kings take pleasure in honest lips;
they value a man who speaks the truth (16:13).
 
 
 
He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious
will have the king for his friend (22:11).
 
Now, there are obvious applications of these two biblical principles to our current presidential contest. At least one of the questions we must ask ourselves about each of the three candidates is whether they are truthful and whether the policies they advocate are just. Different Christians will apply these principles differently to the candidates and vote for one or the other on election day.
 
But regardless of whom we end up voting for, as Christians, we really must hold all candidates in both parties to a strict standard. I’ve noticed that politicians often say one thing to one interest group and the opposite thing to another. That’s deceptive and hypocritical. But the only reason they continue to do it is because we voters let them. Frankly, the American electorate likes being lied to. We like hearing what we want to hear, even though we know that candidates don’t intend to or cannot deliver what they promise.
 
If we want honest politicians, we must be honest voters first.

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