How to Vote For President
Kraig Lowell Pullam, M.Div.
Proverbs 11:3; 28:1; 29:2
During World War II, Winston Churchill was forced to make a painful choice. The British secret service had broken the Nazi code and informed Churchill that the Germans were going to bomb Coventry. He had two alternatives: (1) evacuate the citizens and save hundreds of lives at the expense of indicating to the Germans that the code was broken; or (2) take no action, which would kill hundreds but keep the information flowing and possibly same many more lives. Churchill had to choose and followed the second course. As I read of this incident, I thought about the face that the thin line between these two altering and alternative and historical choices was LEADERSHIP.
Many of us will soon be going to the polls and voting in the most important election of our lifetime. You can be assured that the very future of our Republic is at stake. And no Christian believer can rightly take this responsibility lightly.
As we examine the words of Solomon, the book of Proverbs is a very practical book with help for daily living. Proverbs 29:2 says that, "When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn." In the scripture it is clear that Godly leadership brings rejoicing, triumph and jubilation to a nation, while ungodly leadership brings sorrow, distress and disappointment to all.
In the New Testament, it teaches that Christians are citizens of two realms; and that the believer has a responsibility to fulfill and a standard to uphold in each realm. First, we are a citizen in the country in which we reside. Respectively, that is the United States of America. In a real sense, we are not only citizens of the country in which we live; but we are called to be good, honorable, law-abiding citizens. Second (and most important), we are citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, more specifically, the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. And we are called to be good citizens of Christ’s kingdom in word, precept and deed. And, mark it down: there is no conflict between the two. For we are called to be good citizens and exercise our privileges in the kingdom of man and in the kingdom of God.
Some of you may remember several years ago in 2000 the presidential election how close it was. And you can recall that it took several weeks after the election before we knew who had been elected president of the land in which we live. And finally it had to be determined by the Supreme Court and the judicial system. And perhaps if you are present and believe that your vote is irrelevant or inconsequential, just remember that the vote of the faithful people of God is vital if you are striving to be a good citizen of this nation and in the kingdom of almighty God.
Years ago, USA Today posted an article and it said: where would you spend Sunday morning? Will you go to Home Depot or church? Would you sing in the choir or play golf? Voters who said they go to church every Sunday usually voted, according to USA Today, for the conservative candidate; while those who expressed going to church less often, or not at all, tended to vote for the more liberal candidate. Let me rush to say to you that, contrary to popular belief, Jesus doesn’t belong to any particular party. When it comes to many of the divisive issues that plague our politics, you can be sure that most every issue has its legitimate argument, but most of them are plagued by some alternative hidden agenda.
But this much is true: over 5,000,000 evangelical Christians did not vote at all in the last presidential election. In a real sense, one out of four believers voted in the last presidential election; but many complained when their choice didn’t get in. And Godly candidates are often defeated not by the activists and the radicals, but they are defeated by Christian people who are too lazy and who care too little about their citizenship to go to the polls and vote for the candidate who best represents the values of the Bible and of Christian people; and the heart of God.
Now Christians needs to carry their spirituality and their hallelujahs into the voting booths. And we have to choose candidates according to Biblical standards if we want to follow the principles of the Word of God. I would not presume to tell you who to vote for; but I would assure you that it is never a straight ticket. I would also assure you that many who suggest that God is moving in a certain direction doesn’t necessarily make it so.
Here in the book of Proverbs we notice that Godly leadership brings rejoicing, triumph and delight to a nation. I remember reading about Charles Finney, the great revivalist and evangelist of the Second and Third Great Awakenings in America. He was one of the well-known evangelists of his time. And Charles Finney said this: “…the time has come when Christians must vote for honest men. And take consistent ground in politics. God cannot sustain this free and blessed country that we love and pray for unless the church will take the right ground. God will bless or curse this nation according to the course Christians take in politics.”
Now if you think that politics do not belong in the church then you are in the wrong place today because the Word of God teaches otherwise. Admittedly, I cannot tell you who to vote for. But I will tell you that Godly leadership brings rejoicing to the nation and, moreover, the Scripture teaches very clearly and succinctly how to recognize Godly leadership.
I want you to notice some characteristics that God's word gives us this morning.
I. A GODLY LEADER MUST BE A MAN OF FAITH
In April 1988 the evening news reported on a photographer who was a skydiver. He had jumped from a plane along with numerous other skydivers and filmed the group as they fell and opened their parachutes. On the film shown on the telecast, as the final skydiver opened his chute, the picture went berserk. The announcer reported that the cameraman had fallen to his death, having jumped out of the plane without his parachute. It wasn't until he reached for the absent ripcord that he realized he was freefalling without a parachute. Until that point, the jump probably seemed exciting and fun. But tragically, he had acted with thoughtless haste and deadly foolishness. Nothing could save him, for his faith was in a parachute never buckled on. Faith in anything but an all-sufficient God can be just as tragic spiritually. Only with faith in Jesus Christ dare we step into the dangerous excitement of life.
And herein the scripture says that when the righteous are in authority the people rejoice. In contrast, when the unrighteous prevail, the people lament. Now the obvious question we must raise is: who is a righteous person? Conversely, we are not righteous because of the eloquent words we may impart or the good deeds we may render. The scripture teaches in Isaiah 64:6 that, ‘…all our righteousness is as filthy rags in the sight of a holy and righteous God.’ He is not talking about who has given the most to charity or who has done the most or who has gone to church the most; moreover he is talking about being righteous rather than DOING righteousness. To be sure, DOING righteousness is important; but our DOING does us no good if our HEART is not right. Titus 3:5 says that, ‘…it is not by works of righteousness which we have DONE but according to His mercy He saved us by the washing of regeneration and the renewing of God’s Holy Spirit WITHIN us.’ Being a godly leader who is a person of faith is based not on what is on the exterior, but that which resides in the interior. Proverbs 4:23 declares, ‘…out of the heart flows the issues of life.’ Question: how are we made righteous? We are made righteous when God declares us righteous according to our faith, and only our faith, in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Notice, if you will, the words of Paul the Apostle in Romans 4:24b-5: 1, "that we have no righteousness of our own, but to whom God will credit righteousness for us who believe in Him who raised Jesus from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. Therefore since we have been justified (declared righteous) by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."
The Bible teaches us that the only righteousness that exists is the righteousness of Jesus Christ, which is given and granted by faith. And if we depend on our own righteousness we will die and go to hell and spend eternity without God. But God has provided for us a righteousness that we can receive as a free gift of God. And it tells us that when we believe God's Word and receive Christ and confess Him as Savior, in that moment God declares us righteous and He looks at us as though we had never sinned.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, in saying that a Godly leader is a man of faith, I am saying that he is a man who has received Christ as his Savior. The definition of a Godly leader is one who has trusted in Christ as His personal Savior and Redeemer. Now there are some who would suggest that it doesn't matter whether or not the leader of this nation or the mayor of our town or the governor of our state or whatever leaders they may be are Christians or not? However, this is patently not true. The prophets said to Jehoshaphat (this godly leader) about his attachment to Ahab (this evil leader): “Shouldest thou hate the ungodly and love them that hate the Lord?”
And that captured my attention. “Shouldest thou love the godly and help those who hate the Lord?” Take a moment and substitute love for vote: Should you vote for those who hate righteousness and hate Christ? Can you be a Christian and really exercise your duty before a righteous God and declare your right to vote in the direction of one who declares that Jesus is not the only way to the Father? You see a Godly leader is a man of faith.
II. A GODLY LEADER MUST BE A PERSON WHO IS FAULTLESS
You say, “…nobody is faultless.” Take not that, in Scripture, faultless does not mean without sin. An anonymous writer has said, ‘If you think you have no faults, that makes another one!’ What, then, does it mean to be faultless? It is nakah in the Hebrew writing of the Old Testament rendering of the word. First, it means PURITY OF CHARACTER; a faultless man has purity of character. Proverbs 11:5 says this, "The righteousness of the blameless makes a straight way for them, but the wicked are brought down by their own wickedness." The word blameless is a word also used in the New Testament about the qualification for pastors. It says that a pastor must be blameless. That doesn't mean he is perfect or sinless, for Romans 3:23 affirms that ‘all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.’ Pastors sin just as much as anybody else. But he must be blameless. To be blameless means that as far as people can see, his character, motives and intentions are pure. That his outward life has nothing in it that brings reproach on the kingdom of God or an embarrassment to those that he leads. And the same thing applies to those who lead in government.
Proverbs 11:20, "The LORD detests men of perverse heart but he delights in those whose ways are blameless." This is purity of character. Sometimes people get excited and they let charisma, popularity, crowds, the evangelical consensus, friendship circles and even peer pressure take the place of seeking a man who is faultless.
See if you can identify this world leader. Times were never better. The national economy was strong during his tenure. Inflation, which had plagued the country for twenty years, was under control. Peace and prosperity characterized the nation. Many consider him to be one of the most gifted politicians to come on the national stage. One journalist wrote of him, although there was uneasiness about his character and the allegations of corruption and immorality swirled around him, none of his political opponents could touch him. He was too slick for his accusations to stick. So charming and personable was this leader that the religious leaders overlooked his lack of integrity.
Do you think you know whom I am talking about? Well, if you think it is Bill Clinton you are wrong! It is Adolph Hitler. These words were written about Adolph Hitler in 1940, just a few centuries before Hitler came to power, Germany was the bastion of spiritual faith. It was the place where Protestantism was born. It was the sight of the Great Reformation and Great Revival in Europe. What was it that brought this nation from being such a great spiritual power to being a nation who committed the Holocaust? Well, the people began to overlook the flaws in their leader's character and began to overlook the obvious immorality and lack of integrity and instead they were charmed by a fanatic's deceitful words. And a whole nation bought it, hook, line, and sinker.
So a man who is flless must possess purity of character. Secondly it means PRINCIPLES OF CONVICTION. Look at Proverbs 11:3, "The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity." Have you ever met a person who says one thing and does another? Further, have you ever run into a friend who expresses to you a view at one moment that fully contradicts what they said to you at a different time and circumstance? In the same fashion, there are politicians who say one thing and do another. As Kingdom Citizens, we are to be people whose word matches our bond; and we are to expect our governmental leaders to do the same. There are some politicians who, when they are with a church crowd they talk the way the church crowd does and when they are with Hollywood, they talk the way Hollywood does. There are politicians who speak one way with their own party, but will speak another way when they are looking to appeal for the popular vote. There are politicians who will run around and suggest one things in public, but another when they are with their friends. That is what he is talking about in Proverbs 11:3 when he says; the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity, that is hypocrisy.
I heard about a little boy that was in Sunday School. And the teacher had told the story of the rich man and Lazarus. You remember the story, how the rich man enjoyed his life and poor old Lazarus was a beggar who was full of sores and sat at his gate. But the rich man didn't know God. So when he died he went to hell. But you know, when Lazarus died, his worries were over and he went to heaven. So the teacher said, now children who would you rather be, the rich man or Lazarus? The little boy stuck up his hand and he said, I know. I would want to be the rich man while I’m alive and Lazarus when I die! That is the way a lot of people are in this country. They want it both ways and you can't have it both ways.
Ask yourself the question as you vote: what are his or her convictions? Where do they stand with regard to the issue of abortion prior to birth? But take note that that is only half the battle. If murder is wrong prior to birth then it must be wrong after birth. There are duplicitous Christians who have become one-sided and exercise partiality and prejudice. Not only what are their convictions regarding abortion prior to birth, but what are their convictions regarding war and putting our innocent children who are already born in harm’s way to promote an unjust war? Where do they stand on traditional marriage? Where do they stand on faith in the public discourse? How does he or she stand with regard to woman’s rights; and the rights of those who are less fortunate and them who are disenfranchised? The Godly Leader who is faultless has principles of conviction. Let it be clear that conviction doesn’t cower in an effort to gain political ground. You can always sense conviction, for conviction often stands when it would be in their best interest to bow.
Abraham Lincoln stood for the abolition of slavery, though it was unpopular. He was a man of conviction.
Martin Luther stood up against the Catholic church and the belief that one must confess Christ to be saved and baptized, though it would cost him his life. He was a man of conviction.
Rosa Parks stood up against prejudice and segregation, though she ran the risk of being beaten and even murdered. She was a woman of conviction.
And, even today, there are leaders (political and spiritual) who stand against injustices toward those who are disadvantaged and need to be lifted up. These are men and women of conviction.
Number three he has PURPOSE OF COMPASSION. Look at Proverbs 29:7; 14, "The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern. If a king judges the poor with fairness, his throne will always be secure." To be sure compassion for the poor doesn't mean giving everyone a handout. It is the unrighteous who are a territorial and tyrannical mentality that goes to the extreme of suggesting nobody deserves any help. To be sure, God never intended for people who are healthy and can work to live on the backs of those of us who do work and pay taxes. But there is a segment within the political stream who fail to realize that some won’t work but there are many who can’t work. I am afraid that there is a certain group cut from a so-called Christian, evangelical cloth that may be theological but it not biblical. For the Bible I read says in Proverbs 17:5 that, ‘Whosoever mocks the poor insults his Maker; and he who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.’ The Bible also says that, when Jesus arrives on the scene, He does not come looking out the interests of wall street, the wealthy or the well-to-do; but He comes speaking the words of Isaiah which state: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed…”
Interestingly, I think of the words of John C. Maxwell, who writes in his book, ‘Winning with People’: When I was a kid growing up in Ohio, I didn’t know much about the world. And that led me to have a rather narrow view of life when I was a young man. I remember thinking that anyone, regardless of circumstances, could get ahead through hard work. Then I took a trip to a developing country, and I saw people who worked much harder than I did but were unable to escape poverty. My thinking began to change as my world enlarged.
Maxwell went on to say that in order to change focus, people need to get out of their own little world. And there are leaders and politicians who are stuck in their own little world. Godly leaders are concerned about 100% of those who live in a world that is filled with sin, heartache, pain and disappointment, injustices for the poor, lack of adequate healthcare for seniors, discrimination against others because of race, gender or beliefs.
One of the greatest things I have ever seen is people in government, from our previous president to current president, is in admitting that the church can do more to rehabilitate the alcoholic, the drug addict, the economically disinherited recognizing that the church can do more for individuals than any other kind of group within modern society.
Ask yourself as you vote, does he or she have a purpose of compassion? This is truly the character of Christ. The Scripture teaches that we serve a God who has a purpose of compassion. On many occasions, we see Jesus in scripture on His way to perform an assignment; but we often see how Jesus would stop in the rush of the moment out of compassion for others. Mark 6:34 says, ‘He had compassion…for He saw sheep without a shepherd.’ Matthew 14:14 says, ‘He had compassion…and began to heal the sick and give sight to the blind.’ Matthew 9:36 says, ‘He had compassion…because they were harassed and helpless.’ Luke 10:33 says that he saw and a Samaritan and, ‘He had compassion.’
Compassion cares for the haves and the have-nots; not just the haves and the have-mores. Compassion will roll up its sleeves and fight for healthcare for everybody when you already have it for yourself. Compassion is not just concerned about getting all it can, canning all it gets and sitting on the can and to hell with those who can’t.
But compassion says even if your parents can’t afford to send you off to school, in this land of opportunity, that opportunity doesn’t just exist for those whose family can afford to send them off to the ivory towers of higher learning.
This is purpose of compassion!
III. A GODLY LEADER IS ONE WHO IS FEARLESS
I happen upon a story told about 5-year old Johnny, who was in the kitchen as his mother made supper on one particular afternoon. She asked him to go into the pantry and get her a can of tomato soup, but he didn't want to go in alone. "It's dark in there and I'm scared." She asked again, and he persisted. Finally she said, "It's OK--Jesus will be in there with you." Johnny walked hesitantly to the door and slowly opened it. He peeked inside, saw it was dark, and started to leave when all at once an idea came, and he said: "Jesus, if you're in there, would you hand me that can of tomato soup?"
Proverbs 28:1 says, "The wicked man flees though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion." I want to tell you that in the shape we are in as a nation and world, with where we’ve been over the past decade, we don't need a weak kneed, watery-eyed, candy legged character leading the nation in these days. We need what the writer terms, ‘…the boldness of a lion.’ In many ways, our country is in greater danger than we were in in the Cold War because now people have access to nuclear weapons that do not care when and where they use it, who do not negotiate at anybody's table. And they may use it anywhere, any time; they are a nameless, faceless enemy who work under no flag, who wear no uniform. And we are facing a crisis in this world. And at the same time, we are fighting a culture war in the United States as we speak. And it is going to take leaders and people as bold as a lion.
I love lions; admittedly, it (along with the Tiger) is my favorite animal. I can give you many character traits of the lion. But at the top of my list, the lion has no fear.
During World War II, a military governor met with General George Patton in Sicily. When he praised Patton highly for his courage and bravery, the general replied, "Sir, I am not a brave man. . . The truth is, I am an utter craven coward. I have never been within the sound of gunshot or in sight of battle in my whole life that I wasn't so scared that I had sweat in the palms of my hands." Years later, when Patton's autobiography was published, it contained this significant statement by the general: "I learned very early in my life never to take counsel of my fears."
And that is what you and I need in leadership. You need a pastor who isn’t afraid to stand up and declare the unsearchable mysteries of the Word of God, at the risk of losing his job. You need elected officials who are more concerned about the convictions of their heart than they are the popular consensus of the crowd.
One example of fearless leadership was President Ronald Reagan at the Berlin Wall. All of his advisors told him not to go to Germany. They said the political situation is too tense; don't go to East Germany the communists are upset with your policies. Russia may escalate the arms race if you go there. All of his advisors advised against it. And then he was asked to speak at the Berlin Wall, The Iron Curtain, all of his advisors said, Mr. President, don't speak, don't do it. You don't have to do it. They will just use it against you. Play it safe. Then his speechwriter said, after he read his speech, don't say these words that you have planned to say. But Mr. Reagan ignored them all because he had a fearlessness and a conviction that now was the time to give the Cold War a death blow. So he stood at the Berlin Wall and he courageously thundered forth those words, Mr. Gorbachov, if you want peace, if you want the United States to be your friend, and then point your missiles away from Western Europe. Mr. Gorbachov, if you want peace, tear down this WALL!
And hear me today, loved ones. This is the kind of leadership we continually need in this day. We need leaders who will be fearless.
IV. A GODLY LEADER IS A PERSON WHO REMAINS FAITHFUL
Mark Hatfield tells of touring Calcutta with Mother Teresa and visiting the so-called "House of Dying," where sick children are cared for in their last days, and the dispensary, where the poor line up by the hundreds to receive medical attention. Watching Mother Teresa minister to these people, feeding and nursing those left by others to die, Hatfield was overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the suffering she and her co-workers face daily. "How can you bear the load without being crushed by it?" he asked. Mother Teresa replied, "My dear Senator, I am not called to be successful, I am called to be faithful."
The Bible says in Proverbs 11:3, "The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity." The word ‘integrity’ in the Hebrew tongues is nawkoach, and it means ‘straigthforward, equitable, correct and undefiled.’ We need to know that when a man puts his hand on the Bible and he swears to uphold and defend the law of the Constitution of the United States of America, that he will faithfully carry out that promise. We believe, that while he is called to be our president, not the chief Bible Scholar, theologian or Sunday School teacher, we need to know that when he puts his hand on the Bible that he believes in the Bible on which his hand rests and resides. And he knows that it is the Word of God and believes it IS the Word of God; and that there is NO OTHER WORD! And he looks to it for guidance. Let me ask you: What Bible does he or she read? What Bible does he or she practice? What Bible does he or she believe in?
There are Bible studies all over the White House every day. Even Congress, even the Senate and the House, there are Bible studies everyday by Godly leaders. We have Godly leaders in this land. We are blessed with men who have given up so much to serve. They have given up their privacy, they have given up their fortunes, they have given up their businesses, they have given up time with their families in order to be a leader in our land and we ought to thank God for them. We ought to thank them and be grateful for them.
But we need a leader who will be faithful because he must persevere at all costs. He must persevere under the stress and tremendous demands of the office that he holds.
Calvin Coolidge is noted to have said:
Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.
Mark it down: God outlines in His Word what will happen to a nation under the Godly leader.
Benjamin Rush, a member of the Continental Congress, had the attitude we should be looking for in our legislators: "I have alternately been called an aristocrat and a democrat. I am neither. I am a Christocrat." That is what we need to be is Christocrats. We need to vote for those who represent the values that we cherish and uphold the principles that we hold dear; and the things that we know to be the true and the faithful Word of God.
We need a leader like Moses who is determined to obey God no matter what.
We need generals like Joshua who knew God and could pray and shout down walls.
We need politicians like Joseph who walked with God and fashioned policy after His will.
We need preachers like Peter who had the courage to look people in the eye and say repent or perish.
We need mothers like Hannah who will pray for their children and when God gives them children they will give them back to God.
We need children like Samuel who will talk to God in the hours of the night and honor their parents in the hours of the day.
We need physicians like Luke who not only cared for the physical needs but also cared for the spiritual needs of his patients and introduced them to the Lord Jesus Christ.
We need a God like Israel's God, not the man upstairs but the thrice-Holy God of Israel.
We need a Savior like Jesus who can save anyone at anytime, anywhere that people will call upon Him.
One stormy night an elderly couple entered the lobby of a small hotel and asked for a room. The clerk said they were filled, as were all the hotels in town. "But I can't send a fine couple like you out in the rain," he said. "Would you be willing to sleep in my room?" The couple hesitated, but the clerk insisted. The next morning when the man paid his bill, he said, "You're the kind of man who should be managing the best hotel in the United States. Someday I'll build you one." The clerk smiled politely. A few years later the clerk received a letter from the elderly man, recalling that stormy night and asking him to come to New York. A round-trip ticket was enclosed. When the clerk arrived, his host took him to the corner of 5th Avenue and 34th Street, where stood a magnificent new building. "That," explained the man, "is the hotel I have built for you to manage." The man was William Waldorf Astor, and the hotel was the original Waldorf-Astoria. The young clerk, George C. Boldt, became its first manager.
And that is what I want; and that is what I need – leaders like Jesus, who care about the left out, the least, the last and the lost. Those who exemplify how Jesus lived. Philippians 1 says Jesus Christ humbled Himself….that I may know Him….
I don't know why Jesus loved me
I don't know why He cared
I don't know why He sacrificed His life
Oh, but I'm glad, so glad He did
He left His mighty throne in glory
To bring to us redemption's story
Then He died but He rose again
Oh, but I'm glad, so glad He did.