19–25 May 2019.
It’s hard to stress enough just how important good leaders are to the health of a country. Our political leaders set the direction for our country, they shape our laws and policies, they set the tone for our public discourse, and they lead by example. It is incredibly important that we have political leaders who strive for what is right and just and fair, and who reflect in their behaviour the importance of ethics, integrity, and wisdom. Without that leadership and example, a country has a bleak future.
But while that is all true, that doesn’t mean that the sole responsibility for the state of the nation rests with political leaders alone. Every election season people are very quick to complain about the country and to complain about the poor job that their leaders are doing. It’s very tempting to deflect blame in this way. But citizens must never forget that they also bear an equal responsibility for the state their country is in.
That’s the clear lesson we learn in 2 Chronicles 27. After generations of sinful, incompetent, and foolish leaders, Judah is at last blessed with a king, Jotham, who is truly righteous and good. While the records of previous kings are full of long stories of the many ways they failed, Jotham’s history is short and simple. During the 16 years of his reign he built up the nation, he defended the people, and he supported the faith. As the Chronicler tells us, he succeeded and “became powerful because he was careful to live in obedience to the Lord his God” (v. 6). Verse 2 sums up Jotham’s rule as king with the simple statement of praise that he always “did what was right in the sight of the Lord”.
The only problem was that even though King Jotham was a pillar of righteousness and faith, the people he ruled over were not. Sadly the Chronicler tells us directly that despite having a great leader in Jotham, “the people continued in their corrupt ways” (v. 2). And that would lead Judah to disaster.
That stands as a powerful warning to us all today. During elections it’s easy for people to demand good leaders – and it’s very right to do so. But when good leaders are chosen, will it make any difference to our nation if the culture and attitude of the people is already stained by corruption, unfairness, and injustice? Good leaders can only change so much. If the hearts of the people are determined to seek out injustice and to support cruelty, if they are happy to promote corruption, unfairness, and inequality, then can we have any hope for change?
That’s why it’s so important for us to pray not only for good leaders but also that the nation’s people will be touched by a real passion for goodness. Because only when both the people and their leaders work together for what is right and good and just can we have a strong hope for the future of our country.
Pastor Stephen Lakkis