by Michael E. Brooks
“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34 NKJV).
There are organizations who keep watch on governments throughout the world, tabulating evidence of dishonesty and corruption. Lists are published of “the most corrupt governments” each year.
For several years now one of the nations I visit regularly has been at or near the “top” of that list (or perhaps the most corrupt should be considered to be at the bottom).
I have noticed with interest that whenever I mention that fact among seasoned travelers, they almost invariably respond in ways similar to this: “If you think they are corrupt you ought to go to _______ (any number of countries might be named here). They are really crooked there.”
It is not only visitors who claim top ranking for a nation; often its own citizens are quick to make their claim to the title of most corrupt. One begins to wonder, are we proud of our dishonesty? Are bribe takers, perverters of justice, embezzlers, and other dishonest leaders our heroes?
Sometimes it would appear so. Not only do many seem to take a perverted pride in the dishonesty of their elected officials but they also aspire to some such office themselves, or at least to help their children achieve it, so they can participate in and benefit from the system.
We need to be reminded, “Sin is a reproach to any people.” There is nothing admirable nor beneficial about dishonesty. Corruption destroys society. No nation can long survive the continued abuse of justice and the deprivations of a dishonest leadership. It will become bankrupt not only of money, but of trust, productivity, and character.
What is true of nations is also true of churches, families, or any other social institution. Success depends upon trust among its members. One must be able to depend upon others to fulfill their roles and to serve the common interest of all; not just his own personal ambitions.
Recently I spoke with a businessman who lamented his advanced age and declining health, and described his difficulties with his business. He had just dismissed two employees for theft, and said it was almost impossible to find anyone to work whom he could trust. His business could not continue under such conditions.
Small businesses are obviously vulnerable to the greed and dishonesty of only a few such employees. We may assume however that nations can absorb the occasional thief without much harm. That is simply not the case. Sin is shameful. It is a cancer which eats away at the strength and health of any organization or person and will ultimately destroy it.
Let us learn once again this truth. Let us “abhore what is evil. Cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9). Righteousness exalts – sin shames. The choice is clear.
by Michael E. Brooks