We read in Hos 8:4 “They made kings but not by Me.” The Jews never consulted God or asked His will about what to do regarding the issue of heavy taxation by Rehoboam. Instead they followed their own will, seceded from Judah and installed their own king–as if God was not involved in the affairs of the land. Eighteen kings all in all were made by the people, most if not all, dying a violent death.
“To choose leaders without the direction of God is not only sinful, it is foolish. Those who follow their own wisdom in the choice of leaders inevitably get what they deserve.” (Boice)
We cannot proclaim our independence from God in facing the nation’s issues and choosing who to lead us in addressing national concerns. We need to turn to God and to His word. So remember these four Biblical guidelines as you troop to the polls next week to choose the next set of officials for the land.
1. Let your vote be freely decided.
a. When voting, be guided by liberty of conscience. This is one of the tenets of our faith. 1689 Ch 21 par 2, “God alone is Lord of the conscience, and has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are in anything contrary to His word, or not contained in it. So that to believe such doctrines, or obey such commands out of conscience, is to betray true liberty of conscience; and the requiring of an implicit faith, an absolute and blind obedience, is to destroy liberty of conscience and reason also.” Gal 5:1; Jn 8:32; Rom 14:4; Jas 4:12
b. “In this especially consists the best condition of the people, when they can choose, by common consent, their own shepherds [i.e. civil rulers]: for when any one by force usurps the supreme power, it is tyranny; and when men become kings by hereditary right, it seems not consistent with liberty.” (Calvin)
c. Do not be coerced or forced by anyone to vote for a candidate who is not yours by choice. You may be persuaded either by ads or friends but not forced. We are not into bloc-voting. Do not be pressured by regionalism or any other shallow external factor. Do not be bribed by money or even by a t-shirt. This does not mean however that asking other’s opinions or counsel is wrong.
2. Let your vote be Biblically guided. Here are ten marks of an ideal political leader:
a. Knowledge-This would include educational background and ability; he must know and have a background of what he is getting into; he must have some length of experience in governance and must possess a knowledge of law; he must be a learner engaged in continuous study; he must have a well-rounded knowledge of issues; he must have a good set of counselors or advisers; he must be able to apply his learning to issues and problems; he must possess some degree of Solomonic wisdom; he must be able to manage internal as well as external conflicts; he must be a good decision maker; he must be able to communicate his intentions and decisions well; he must not be impulsive and neither slow. (Prov 8:14-16; 15:22; 16:10; 20:26; 25:2; 28:2)
b. Humility-He must be a humble leader–one who listens to good advice. He must have open ears to the people. He must not be ostentatious with wealth. He must not think that he is the great solution to the country’s woes. He must have good things to say about his rivals. He must be willing to make a public apology for a wrong committed. Remember that God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble. (1 Pet 5:5)
c. Truthfulness-He must be truthful and transparent. Granted that not everything can be made public, he must not be known as a peddler of lies. He should be a man of his word; a man of integrity; honest and not corrupt; files his SALNs (Prov 17:7; 20:28; 29:12,14)
d. German Reformer Martin Bucer: There is required of him, which must be chosen and called to be magistrate, that he be true in word and deed, so that he be not found to be an hypocrite, a liar, a deceiver, a turncoat, nor one which out of one mouth doth blow both hot and cold; but faithful, simple, a plain dealer, and blameless. He must not be more liberal in promising than in performing. He must not be one that setteth light by an oath, not a false swearer, nor a perjured man.
e. Just-He must not favor the rich neither the poor but treat everyone equally; no favoritism in extending budget; no partiality in the application of law; he himself must be law-abiding; he must avoid clashes like Kidapawan. (Prov 20:8; 29:4; Deut 16:18)
f. Martin Bucer: Because many who are in the office desire riches, and seek to increase their wealth by bribes, the Lord removeth such from the magistracy and forbiddeth good magistrates to be covetous: yea, he doth expressly charge them to hate and abhor it; as he both also, in another place, not only forbid them to take bribes, but also command them to shake off and rid their hands of all rewards. Covetousness and greedy desires of bribes are the very plagues that choke good magistrates.”
g. Righteous-There must be a level of conformity to good morals. He must not be known as a drunkard, a womanizer, a gambler, a murderer, or known for shady dealings. There must be some degree of the fear of God. He must not be beyond the law, an opportunist, but law-abiding. (Prov 14:34; 16:12; 16:32; 28:15-16; 29:2; 31:1-9; Deut 17:14-20; Ex 18:21; Neh 7:2; 2 Sam 23:3-4)
h. Martin Bucer again: “Let him fear God, let him be religious and not superstitious. No idolater preserveth the commonwealth, but rather destroyeth it; and a wicked man defendeth not truth and true religion, but persecuteth and driveth them out of his jurisdiction. Let this magistrate of ours therefore be of the right religion, sound in faith, believing the word of God, and knowing that God is present among men and doth repay to whom he list according to their deserts.”
i. Calvin: “This consideration makes a true king: to recognize himself a minister of God in governing his kingdom. Now, that king who in ruling over his realm does not serve God’s glory exercises not kingly rule but brigandage.”
j. Courageous-He must have the political will to execute his plans and reforms; not afraid of the mighty. But he must not be haphazard, reckless or impulsive; he must be bold but peace-loving not impulsive or hot blooded. He must be a peace-maker. (Prov 28:1)
k. Martin Bucer: “That he be a man of courage, of strength or force, that is, which hath ability to do the thing whereunto he is appointed. That ability consisteth in mind rather than in body. For it is required, that he be not a fool, but wise and skilful in that which he hath to do: because the office of a captain is to know how to set his army in order of battle, rather than to fight himself; or as a chariot-man ought rather to know how to guide his cart in driving, than to draw it himself. And therewithal too, there is demanded a boldness of stomach to dare to do the things that he already knoweth; for constancy and sufferance are very needful in every captain.”
l. Citizen-When foreigners rule a land, it is a judgment from God. The official must be one of our own, one who understands our culture, the sentiments and sensitivities of the people. (Jer 30:21)
m. Performance-He must be proven, having a good track record in previous responsibilities. He who is faithful in little is faithful in much; he should not be a neophyte. (Lk 19:17)
n. Healthy-How can you bear under the pressure if you are sick? How can you think well? How can you have time for the heavy responsibilities and intense pressures of government office?
o. Dignified-He must be dignified in demeanor. He must be respectable in speech, dress and bearing. He must be a true statesman. (Prov 30:29-31)
3. Let your vote be prayerfully considered.
Pray for guidance in your choice. Pray over these qualifications and ask the Lord who He is guiding you to choose. Pray that the Lord would provide a good leader. Pray for peace and order. Pray for unity as as church not in a candidate but in God’s word. (Jas 1:5-8; 1 Tim 2:1)
4. Let your vote be humbly submitted.
It is a recognition that at the end of the day, it is God’s choice that will prevail. (Rom 13:1)
Concluding Word-John Calvin on Choosing our Magistrates
“And ye peoples, to whom God gave the liberty to choose your own magistrates, see to it, that ye do not forfeit this favor, by electing to the positions of highest honor, rascals and enemies of God.”