Exodus 18:14-21: “When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, "What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?" Moses answered him, "Because the people come to me to seek God's will. Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God's decrees and laws." Moses' father-in-law replied, "What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people's representative before God and bring their disputes to him. Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform. But select capable men from all the people--men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain--and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.”
The campaign material arriving at our house tells me what the politicians will do for me. If I cover up the politician’s name and party, the rest of the campaign material would be pretty much the same. If I believe it all, no one will increase my taxes, all of them are strong against terrorism and they all believe in the need to reform health care. All of us want a healthy economy; all of them support the troops. Politicians at one time had promised “a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage” (if it has not been foreclosed upon), to court our support and/or vote.
Is this how we should pick our leaders? By what is in it for me? Should I vote just to protect my tail and my pocketbook?
Jethro was Moses’ father-in-law. I respect Jethro because he saw that his son-in-law (Moses) was overburdened. He offered advice with God given grace and God saw fit to preserve his word for us today. What is the standard we should use? See verse 21, Jethro lays down three qualities for the judges Moses should appoint. I believe they should be our standard also.
- vs. 21 – They must be “capable”. What experience do they have? What is their record of leadership? Are they fit for the office they are seeking?
- vs. 21 – They must be “men who fear God.” This should always be a question of someone seeking our vote—“Do you fear God?” This would shake up the apple cart at any debate or candidate forum. Would it not reveal a lot about the candidate seeking our vote?
- vs. 21 – They must be “men who are trustworthy and hate dishonest gain.” Are you (the candidate) in this to line your pockets or to serve us, the people. Where is your heart?
If we use Jethro’s standard, I think it would clear the fog and flotsam that surrounds our politics today.
“Now more than ever the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature.” James Garfield, 20th U.S. President
O Lord, we need truth and clarity. Guide us in the choices we make. Amen.