26 July – 1 August 2015.
In Taiwan, the election season is approaching again. The KMT and DPP are starting to put forward their candidates for president, and the newspapers seem full of stories every day about who has more popular support, who is most likely to be elected, and what each candidate’s problems are.
That leads us to an important question: What makes a good ruler? When we have so many people to choose from, how do we tell who is the best?
This is a very ancient question, one that people in biblical times also asked, and one that our passage today discusses. It gives us a few helpful descriptions.
First, in v. 2 we learn that a good ruler is one who has the discernment to know how to maintain order – not with violence but with justice. Bad rulers use force to keep the peace, but this just leads to protests. A good ruler’s fair decisions are the best basis for a country’s unity.
Verses 12 and 28 tell us that when the people have a righteous ruler, not only is this a cause of peace, but it is also a cause for joy and public celebrations. This isn’t surprising. After all, we all know the troubles that come from bad rulers!
As we see in verse 3, bad rulers oppress the poor and weak. And verse 16 tells us how bad rulers practice corruption, extorting the people, and using their time in office to steal as much as they can from the people.
In the end, a good principle for us all to follow – whether we are rulers or not – is summed up in verse 27: Focus on giving to the poor, and on being generous to the needy. Those who do that will never lack. But as for those who close their eyes to the poor and weak, they will have bank accounts piled high with curses!
Whether we are politicians or ordinary citizens, this saying is always true: hospitality and generosity, justice and compassion are always the best principles to live by.
Pastor Stephen Lakkis