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Electing Godly Leaders:  Judging Candidates for Public Office

Each election which requires us to evaluate candidates and their positions  Jesus said, “Judge not, that you be not judge” (Mt. 7:1).  Should we not praise nor condemn the behavior of public officials or those seeking office?

We have an obligation to elect officials who will govern with equity and wisdom (both divine qualities).  Having morally or philosophically corrupt magistrates afflicts a nation.  King Solomon taught of the influential role of leaders when he wrote:  “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; But when a wicked man rules, the people groan” (Pr. 29:2).  Righteous legislators constrain the wicked and encourage good citizens towards their moral best (Ps. 72:2, 4; Pr. 20:26).  In contrast, evil legislators sanction sin by authorizing evil statutes (e.g., no-fault divorce, abortion, gay marriage, etc.).  National shame and judgment are the consequences of national degradation.  “Righteousness exalts a nation:  but sin is a reproach to any people” (Pr. 14:34).

Jesus’ directive to “judge not” is one of the most misquoted passages of the Bible.  Usually only the first seven words are quoted.  Of course, remarks are easily misconstrued when lifted out of context.  The larger pericope is actually seven verses long.

"Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.  And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother's eye.  Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces” (Mt. 7:1-6).

The lesson was, Do not (in your own blindness) judge another hypocritically.  “First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother's eye.” Jesus added that we must judge the worthiness of our audience noting that some hearers are as swine and cannot hear any form of reproof and are, therefore, unworthy of the “pearls” of truth.  Jesus was not banning us from ever voting (Dt. 16:18), sitting on a jury panel or serving as a judge (Ex. 22:9), firing or hiring an employee (Mt. 18:32), punishing a son or daughter (Pr. 29:17), or excommunicating defiant sinners from the church (1Co. 5)—all of which requires our judging another person’s behavior or fitness.

God requires us to judge or evaluation the world in which we live.  The apostle Paul taught that those who are filled with the Holy Spirit skillfully appraise all things.  “But he that is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is judged of no man” (1Co. 2:15).  Apostle John said that we must judge to halt the intrusion of false doctrine:  “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1Jn. 4:1).  Solomon explained that impaired judgement is common of the unregenerate mind while acute justice is a quality of one who walks with the LORD.  “Evil men do not understand justice, But those who seek the LORD understand all” (Pr. 28:5).  As you read this article, you will accept or reject my words as Apostle Paul directed, “Test all things; hold fast what is good” (1Th. 5:21).

Every ballot cast between magistrate hopefuls requires godly discernment to judge between good and evil, between wisdom and foolishness.  Inevitably, the moral convictions (or the lack thereof) of a society are reflected in public policy.

Have the boldness to call a spade a spade.  The piercing words of Peter spurred the conversion of about three thousand when he said to his audience, “Men of Israel, hear these words:  Jesus of Nazareth, ... you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross” (Ac. 2:22-23).  Bold proclamations were the phalanx which led to the Great Awakening.  May God grant us again the boldness of the prophets, Christ, and the apostles to decry wickedness.

Related article:  Electing Godly Leaders:  Qualifications for Government Officials.

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Balancing the Sword is a structured study guide for every chapter of the Bible.