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Proverbs to Vote By

Lamentations  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  36:21
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Last week we looked at the great opportunity we have as Christians to display the love of God and of Christ by choosing what we say, when we say it and how we say whatever we say. The light shines brightest in the darkness and many Americans feel the darkness during this election season. What if every Christian they met refused to do down into the mud and slander or attack people. What if Christians they met discussed the issues and did so in such a way that whether or not the other person agreed with them, that the speech would be full of grace and truth?
This week we are going to look at some other scriptures that deal with this subject.
I know that there are some who would like me to make clear which candidate we should choose. I believe that our Constitution gives me the right to do that. The IRS has threatened to take away our tax-exempt status if we do. Churches that declare that they will endorse candidates from the pulpit have challenged them. The IRS has not taken any to court, I believe, because the IRS knows it will lose.
My purpose in not endorsing a candidate has nothing to do with that. If I felt God wanted me to do so, I would.
I also know that there are some that would interpret my reluctance with cowardice. They would believe that I am afraid or too weak to endorse a candidate. Cowardice has nothing to do with this. I have been called to proclaim the Word of God. I have chosen to deal with issues and not with personalities. The Spirit of God will lead you if you want guidance from God.
Some don’t want God’s guidance. They feel that there is the religious and the political and never the two shall meet. We are Christians. That is not a religious statement, that is a label that defines who we are, where we go, what we say, who we sleep with, how we treat others, and who we follow. We are followers of Jesus Christ. We cannot stop following Jesus in order to vote. We vote as followers of Jesus Christ.
When we do so, the Word of God must guide us.
Which is why I chose this passage this morning.
This section of scripture begins with the king and ends with the servants of the king.
Proverbs 14:28 ESV

In a multitude of people is the glory of a king,

but without people a prince is ruined.

Proverbs 14:35 ESV

A servant who deals wisely has the king’s favor,

but his wrath falls on one who acts shamefully.

28 In a multitude of people is the glory of a king, but without people a prince is ruined… Proverbs 14:35 (ESV) — 35 A servant who deals wisely has the king’s favor, but his wrath falls on one who acts shamefully.
In between are some Proverbs that can apply to both the king and the servants. We don’t have a king; we have a president. We are not servants; we are citizens. Yet, as Christians, we are part of the kingdom of God. We answer to a higher power. We are followers of Jesus. The Proverbs that are here are suggestive for us to examine what a political leader should be like as well as how we should act as citizens.
The verse that sums up this section is verse
Proverbs 14:34 ESV

Righteousness exalts a nation,

but sin is a reproach to any people.

34 Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.
As I walk into the voting booth, this verse is one of the verses that will guide my vote.
There is a problem with using righteousness as criteria.
In the book of Daniel several kingdoms are portrayed in one person. The feet are feet of clay. This reminded me that any leader would have feet of clay. They will have some characteristic, some flaw, or some area of concern. In other words, no leader will be fully righteous. Jesus Christ will be the only ruler who rules perfectly. I would vote for Jesus, but he is not running for any elected office. God has already given him a name above all names. He has made him Lord and Judge over all the earth. The presidency of the United States would be a huge step down for him.
People have feet of clay. Their policies, on the one hand, may sound good, and on the other hand, give great concern. Their character, on the one hand, may be ok, but on the other, highly questionable. No one is perfect and it only takes running for office to find people willing to point out your imperfections and sins. We cannot use the fact that we are all sinners as an excuse to excuse sin. Nor can we expect that political leaders are going to be fully righteous.
What do we do? If righteousness exalts a nation, and sin is a reproach to any people, what do we do?
I don’t have an answer for you. I just know that as I evaluate my Christian duty, I want righteous people promoting righteous policies leading us because righteousness exalts a nation. In truth, every candidate has some good policies and some bad. How do we make the choice?
We are not totally at loss. In between the mention of the king and the servant are several other Proverbs. This proverb that righteousness exalts a nation is simply the summation of the previous Proverbs.
In between these Proverbs are five other Proverbs. Three of these Proverbs speak about character. The other two are general statements that make us aware.
First, let’s look at the three Proverbs that deal with character.
Proverbs 14:29 ESV

Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding,

but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.

29 Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.
The first proverb deals with anger.
Anger is a very powerful weapon. Many of us are careful what we say or do because we are afraid of the darts of anger. When we look at a candidate, we need to ask how they deal with anger. Are they slow to anger or do they get angry quick? People who get angry at the drop of a dime do unpredictable things. Some of the worst decisions we have ever made in our lives have been made when we were angry.
There are things we should be angry about. Child abuse, domestic violence, murder, rape, injustice all should give place to some anger. There are people who are angry at everything. They have a “hasty temper”. That should not be us and that is not a good trait for a leader to have.
Proverbs 14:30 ESV

A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh,

but envy makes the bones rot.

30 A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.
The second proverb deals with a healing heart.
Tranquility comes from a Hebrew word meaning, “healing.” Whereas envy or jealousy tends to destroy, a healing heart gives life to the flesh. Both the king and the servant, both the governing people and the citizenry, best serve our nation when they heal rather than destroy.
Notice that Solomon writes that we need a tranquil or healing heart. In this sinful world we will always have division and discord. We will meet people who seem to thrive on dividing. We also have people who stand their ground, but from their heart are looking for a peaceful solution to the problem.
Envy or jealousy, as some translations put it, wants something for ourselves. Jealousy is appropriate when a third party threatens a marriage. Jealousy is appropriate when promises are broken. Our God is a jealous God. He wants us to follow him and him alone.
Jealousy or envy is self-centered. As we have seen, this is ok in some cases. However, if a person is put in a position of power and they serve their own interests, this is wrong. North Korean people are in great poverty while the leaders live in luxury. A person who is out for themselves will not have a tranquil or healing heart. They will not care about others. Decisions will be made based on how it affects them.
Many voters will vote that way. They may not vote for what is best for the country, but what is best for them. Dennis Keller shared in Sunday school class that he believes that Social Security will be around for a long time because Baby Boomers will insist on having it. I am a Baby Boomer and I believe that for all the years I put money in, I should receive what was promised… I believe that I should receive that in spite of what that may do to the financial condition of our country. Let someone else take the cuts. Having said that, I just lost any write-in votes you might want to give me.
Proverbs 14:31 ESV

Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker,

but he who is generous to the needy honors him.

31 Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.
The third proverb deals with our attitude towards the poor.
Scholars call this proverb an antithetical proverb. The second line contrasts with the first. When Solomon talks about oppressing a poor man, what does he mean? The answer is found in the second part of this proverb. A person oppresses a poor man when he is able, but not willing to help someone with a need.
This issue is at the heart of the differences between the Republican and Democratic parties.
In general, the Republicans say that if the government takes from the rich and gives that money to the poor, the rich do not have enough money to invest in jobs and the poor will have no incentive to find work. The Democrats say that the private sector will not adequately take care of the poor so the government needs to step in and help the needy. The only source of income is the rich, so the rich need to be taxed at a greater rate in order to pay for the social programs. Both say they care for the needy. The Republicans say that the Democrats will bankrupt America while the Democrats say that Republican policies will only help the rich, not the poor. Both use history and statistics to prove their case.
The text before us encourages us to look at how our leaders treat the poor. By that it means that it doesn’t hurt to look at how people use their own money. That will reflect on how they use other peoples’ money. Are they generous? Do they help others? Is there any track record showing what they do in their private lives that reflect a non-oppressive spirit towards the poor?
We can use this to look at ourselves. What is our attitude toward the poor? What do we do in private? Are we generous or do we hold back, even when we see a need? Jesus said that we would always have the poor among us, but that doesn’t give us an excuse to oppress them.
There are two more proverbs which make us aware.
Proverbs 14:32 ESV

The wicked is overthrown through his evildoing,

but the righteous finds refuge in his death.

32 The wicked is overthrown through his evildoing, but the righteous finds refuge in his death.
Bad people will pay the price. Others may be hurt in the meantime, but what a person sows they also reap.
The righteous do not fear death. Death for the Christian is not an overthrow of life, it is not a punishment, rather, death becomes a place of refuge. We will be with God. There will be no more sorrow, no more pain, no more death. We find refuge in Jesus because of what he has done for us.
Proverbs 14:33 ESV

Wisdom rests in the heart of a man of understanding,

but it makes itself known even in the midst of fools.

33 Wisdom rests in the heart of a man of understanding, but it makes itself known even in the midst of fools.
If you are a person of understanding, wisdom rests in your heart. We often meet people that, when they speak, we are fully aware that they know so much more than what they are saying. There is a depth to their wisdom. They don’t dump all they know whether or not they are asked. When they speak, you know that they are able to see a bigger picture and have more to offer. These people are also humble. Wisdom rests in their heart.
I’m not sure how to take this second part. Is this telling us that wisdom can even be discovered among fools? Can it be that people who are irrational, irresponsible and morally lacking can at times see wisdom?
Or is this telling us that the degree of wisdom is known in the midst of fools? In other words, the minute they open their mouths, you know that they don’t have wisdom. Their wisdom is totally foolishness?
Ether way, let every man be slow to speak, slow to anger, and quick to listen. Let your wisdom rest. Use it when it will benefit others.
This is good for leaders and citizens.
The passage is summed up in verse 34.
Proverbs 14:34 ESV

Righteousness exalts a nation,

but sin is a reproach to any people.

34 Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.
In our democracy, righteous people generate a righteous nation. Our leaders reflect who we are as a nation. We choose them by popular vote. We have what we have because the most people want what we have.
No matter what happens in this election, we need to follow the admonition of verse 35.
Proverbs 14:35 ESV

A servant who deals wisely has the king’s favor,

but his wrath falls on one who acts shamefully.

35 A servant who deals wisely has the king’s favor, but his wrath falls on one who acts shamefully.
We need to deal wisely with others no matter what the results might be. We can join the chorus of those who disrespect the ultimate winner or we can refuse to go down into the dirt with everyone else. We need to make sure that we don’t act shamefully. Let the words of our mouth and the meditations of our heart be acceptable to the Lord, our strength and our redeemer!
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