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Proverbs 17 for March 2014 by Doug

Bribery! Corruption! It’s bad, it’s awful! These are the responses we have when bribery or corruption affects government offices. Well, these days that’s the case if the judge or governing official is in the opposition party—if it’s someone in our party, we are starting to be far too okay with that.

And Proverbs 17:23 certainly supports that we should be incensed at anyone who receives a bribe—even if they are from our own party. I would recommend that we actually hold our own folks to a higher standard than our opposition. That may just be me, but I think that certain people are just flat out corrupt and it shows in their public policy statements, so of course they are likely wicked in secret. It’s the ones who make *me* look bad by being corrupt that I should be even more angry with.

We limit the application of Proverbs 17:23 when we link it only to governance. Consider that while Israel had a centralized government and somewhat of a specialized economy, there was still much more unification between church, state, business, and society than we see in our modern era. The same Levite who taught the Torah would have advised the elders in judgment, and one or two of the elders might have advised the king—and these elders were the experienced hands at economic matters.

Putting that in our pictures, consider how far-reaching bribes were. They were not just for slipping a new law through or letting the attorney general get away with major ethics failures.

Bribes also would have covered business deals that harmed the poor. Or agricultural practices that destroyed the land. Or warfare practices that harmed the innocent. Or spiritual factors that muted the truth for people’s comfort.

Any of these situations would have perverted justice. Why? Because justice is an all-encompassing concept. It is not just about the right sentence for the right crime, nor about the equality of one thing or another. It is about life lived in harmony with God’s ways. Justice is life lived as if God is watching over all things.

Because He is.

Bribes taken that pervert justice still permeate society. They reach into our churches, where a man profits while destroying souls—perverting the justice of truth for his own gain. Wicked people do that. Not righteous ones. Quit listening, buying books, and “picking the good parts.” There’s enough out there without so much baggage.

Bribes reach into our government, where people profit while passing on the costs to future generations, ignoring responsibility, and blaming others for their own failures. Wicked people do that. Not righteous ones. QUIT ELECTING THEM. The claim to be doing justice while taking bribes, personal profits, is a sign of wickedness.

Bribes reach into our communities, where the needs of people are overlooked for the alleged benefit of the whole—when it really just pours money back into the same places. Quit voting for it, volunteering for it, or hoping it will turn out differently. Wickedness changes faces, not results.


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