When we stand before God at the final judgment, He will ask for an account of what we did with all the blessings He gave us—our lives, our families, our material possessions. Some will reply, “Lord, I loved my wife, I raised my children right, I was a good steward with all that You gave me.”
“Well done,” He will say. But then He will ask, “I gave you a government—what did you do with it?”
Many Americans will not have an answer.
In the parable of the talents in Matthew 25 and Luke 19, a master entrusted each of his servants to be stewards, or managers, over a certain number of talents, then he departed for a season. When he returned to settle accounts, two of his servants had multiplied the talents they were given and they were rewarded for being good stewards. But because the third servant was afraid, he hid his talent. He did nothing with it. That servant got into trouble with his master.
Like the fearful servant, for years many Christians have chosen not to get involved in what is going on in the world politically. We have let fear, confusion and apathy keep us from taking our proper place in this country.
The interesting thing about the servants in this parable is that not one of them asked to be stewards over the talents they were given. Still, the master held them accountable.
In the same way, as Americans we didn’t ask to be born here. We didn’t ask for this government. Nevertheless I believe God is going to hold us accountable for what we do with what we’ve been given. Being involved in the civil arena is not an option…especially in America.
We’re Responsible to Choose
I have always believed the Word of God applies equally to people everywhere at all times—that God will bless any nation that will do what He says. But our founding fathers said Proverbs 29:2, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn,” has a different meaning in America than in other nations.
Why is that?
Because over 200 years ago in America, we were the first nation in 2,000 years where the people were able to choose whether the righteous would rule or the wicked would rule. The founders considered our government a “stewardship government.”
Other countries were ruled by a king who was born into that leadership position. If he was righteous, the people were blessed. If he was wicked, the people suffered. They didn’t get to choose their leaders.
But God gave Americans this government with the opportunity and the responsibility to choose godly leaders. And we will have to answer for what we do with that responsibility.
The Americans are the first people whom Heaven has favored with an opportunity of deliberating upon and choosing the forms of government under which they should live.
Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation, to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.
—John Jay, first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
A Bible-Based Government
Many people have become convinced that God is not involved with or interested in the civil arena. They think politics is separate from their spiritual life because they have heard about separation of church and state. There is a misconception that the First Amendment to the Constitution talks about this separation, but it doesn’t. In fact, there is no such thing as “separation of church and state” in any of our official government documents. Since the founders didn’t address this in the Constitution or the First Amendment, it clearly was not their intent for American society.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof….
—The First Amendment
America is the most successful nation in the history of the world. We are the longest ongoing constitutional republic, and it’s not because we were founded on secular, or worldly principles. In fact, if you research our Constitution, it’s amazing to see how many biblical principles it contains.
America has been blessed because the founding fathers took godly principles and put them into our founding documents, choosing many of their ideas from Two Treatises of Civil Government by John Locke. It cites the Bible more than 1500 times to show the proper operation of civil government.
America’s first civil government was based on a covenant with God. Those who came over on the Mayflower wrote the Mayflower Compact before they stepped onto American soil. Paraphrased, they basically said, “We have come to this nation to propagate the gospel of Jesus Christ and to establish good government, based on His principles, and we covenant with God to do that.”
Twenty-three years later, the colonies made a joint covenant saying basically the same thing. It was the first time in history for there to be anything like a United States where the various colonies cooperated together.
Our government was set up on biblical principles such as that in Exodus 18:21, which said to choose rulers of tens, fifties, hundreds and thousands (in other words, local, county, state, and federal). These were to be “able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness.” Our elections are based on this principle and these qualities are what we should be looking for in candidates. It’s not important whether they are Republican, Democratic or any other party. We should seek to elect God-fearing people who will honor God and advance His principles.
Ezra 7:25 says to appoint judges who know the laws of God. A judge who knows the laws of God will be a God-fearing judge. When judges who don’t fear God are appointed, believers may say, “We didn’t appoint them.” But the truth is, we allowed the people who appointed them to get elected. So we are ultimately responsible—often because of our lack of involvement and sometimes because we voted for issues other than those spelled out in the Bible.
Romans 12:2 in the J.B. Phillips translation says, “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould…” We have to be mindful not to let our friends, our families, our backgrounds, our co-workers or public opinion determine our choices for political candidates. We must vote on the basis of what matters biblically, not the popular issues of the day.
When you become entitled to exercise the right of voting for public officers, let it be impressed on your mind that God commands you to choose for rulers, “just men who will rule in the fear of God.” The preservation of government depends on the faithful discharge of this duty; if the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted….
The Godly in Government
As Christians we don’t usually think of politicians as ministers, but the Bible indicates otherwise. Romans 13:1 says, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” That means civil authority is ordained of God. Verses 4 and 6 say that those in civil government are “ministers of God.”
The Scripture clearly reveals the importance of government to God. First Timothy 2:1-2 says we are to pray for those in authority—first of all. Since He mentions this first, it must be very important to God.
And apparently Jesus considered service in civil government as a means of reward for in the parable of the talents the faithful servants were rewarded by being made rulers over cities (Luke 19).
It’s also interesting to note that in Hebrews 11, the faith “hall of fame,” the great heroes mentioned from verses 22-34 were involved in civil government.
As Christians we need to re-evaluate our involvement in civil government. God desires for His people to be influential in all arenas, especially government. We are to be the salt and light of the earth. And when we don’t get involved and we don’t vote for godly candidates, we’re making it easy for sin to run rampant in our nation. When the godly depart from any arena, their godly values depart with them. It’s only when the righteous rule that the people rejoice.
It’s our responsibility to get involved, to preserve and restore our heritage. So let’s pray for our leaders, see what the Lord would have each of us to do, and vote for godly candidates.
The government God has blessed us with is a great gift. When we stand before Him one day and He asks what we did with it, what will be our answer?