7/28/2016 7:41:25 AM
Politics and the 8th Commandment
Are we there yet? Those of you who have children are probably quite familiar with that phrase. Over and over again it is asked on a long car ride. They just want to be done.
Do you ever feel that way when it comes to politics? Maybe we might rephrase the question, “Is it November yet?” We are just beginning the main portion of the presidential election season. Yet many are ready to be done: done with phone calls, done with commercials, done with hearing arguments between grown adults.
Lately, as I have been thinking about politics, the 8th Commandment has repeatedly come to mind: “Do not give false testimony against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:16).
[Note: Some count this as the 9th Commandment rather than the 8th. God gives us the Commandments in Exodus 20. In Exodus 34:28 and Deuteronomy 10:4, we are told that there are 10 Commandments. Yet, the Bible never numbers them for us. That’s why some people number them differently than others. In the end, the numbering of them is not important, but what is important is the truth God is teaching here.]
When it comes to politics (especially national politics) this commandment is not just repeatedly broken, but shattered! Just think about the explanation given to this commandment: “We should fear and love God that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, or give him a bad name, but defend him, speak well of him, and take his words and actions in the kindest possible way.”
Consider also what God says elsewhere in Scripture: “Be compassionate and humble, not paying back evil for evil or insult for insult” (1 Peter 3:8-9). “The Lord hates six things; in fact, seven are detestable to Him: arrogant eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that plots wicked schemes, feet eager to run to evil, a lying witness who gives false testimony, and one who stirs up trouble among brothers” (Proverbs 6:16-19).
As you consider all these thoughts, it is probably very easy to point the finger at various politicians and how they are not following God’s instructions here. Yet, rather than point the finger at others, we should point the finger at ourselves. How often have you run down a presidential candidate because you disagree with them? Maybe you did this vocally, or maybe it was just in your heart. Either way, you committed a sin against this and other commandments. It is so very easy to do, especially in the political climate in which we live. It is very challenging in our world to be able to respectfully disagree with our politicians’ opinions and policies without crossing the line into tearing them down and giving them a bad name.
So where do we turn? Where can we find our strength to do this? Where can we find the strength to build up rather than to tear down? We find our strength in Jesus. We see his example as he perfectly fulfilled this commandment for us. We find our strength in the forgiveness that he won for us. God used the Apostle Peter to remind us of this: “For you were called to this, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in His steps. He did not commit sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth; when He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He was suffering, He did not threaten but entrusted Himself to the One who judges justly. He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that, having died to sins, we might live for righteousness; you have been healed by His wounds” (1 Peter 2:21-24).
Therefore, living in the forgiveness that Jesus won, what should we do? Listen to what the Apostle Paul wrote to Pastor Timothy: “First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:2-4).