For those who seek the narrow road, discernment becomes a very valuable tool. Discernment gives us the ability to feel confident about the will of God. This is true of all aspect of our lives. It is especially true when it comes to our responsibility to vote.
However, unless a person has the spiritual gift of discernment, to be able to use discernment as a spiritual tool for life in an effective manner takes time, discipline, and likely the aid of a spiritual director. I pray more people will be willing to invest themselves in the development of this valuable spiritual tool. I am hoping you, the reader, are one of those people.
In our world today, all of us who have the freedom granted to us by our governing authority face the challenge of being influenced by our social history, our perceived place, our self-interests, and sources developed by secular influences rather than prayerful discernment in deciding if, or how, we will vote.
In developing a discerning process for our involvement in our governing authority, I believe there are some things we need to understand. These things come directly from the Scripture, which, for me, is the authority for life we should value deeply, not as a fourth member of the Godhead, but as a gift of guidance and direction given us by the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Note the following verse: Romans 13:1 Every person should place themselves under the authority of the government. There isn’t any authority unless it comes from God, and the authorities that are there have been put in place by God. (Rom. 13:1 CEB)
The words translated authority of the government carries the meaning of a legitimate authority. The legitimate authority of the United States is our constitution. The constitution provides the legitimacy for every aspect of our government. Every person who serves the United States in an office of government takes an oath that contains the words, “and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States,”
According to the Scripture, the authority of government is considered a good thing in the plan and purpose of God. Romans 13:4 tells us the authority of government is for our good
Now to a point that confuses some people. Government is not the same as politics. Politics by definition is, the process of making decisions that apply to members of a group. It literally comes from the word polis, the affairs of the cities. Some have defined politics as the art of compromise.
If you would, look closely at this next passage from Scripture, “Next the devil led him to a high place and showed him in a single instant all the kingdoms of the world. The devil said, “I will give you this whole domain and the glory of all these kingdoms. It’s been entrusted to me and I can give it to anyone I want. Therefore, if you will worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered, “It’s written, You will worship the Lord your God and serve only him.” (Lk. 4:5-8 CEB)
In this account, Satan is striving to get Jesus to compromise. Jesus discerns Satan’s intent and responds with a higher authority. This is not to say compromise is bad. Everyone compromises everyday. We compromise in decisions of behavior, relationships, desires, and purposes. Compromise that does not come with discernment, however, always bears the risk of deception.
The third thing that is very important for us to understand is that, even if we disagree with how others perceive how the legitimate authority of government is used, we must never, ever, let it come between us and the love God wants us to have for others.
Spiritual maturity should always produce humility. When we let political differences bring out the emotions and behaviors of our selfish, limited, finite nature, we are not being discerning of God’s will. To allow this puts us square in the middle of a conflict we cannot win. There are no winners and losers in secular political struggles, only victims. If we believe we are the winners in a political conflict, we have lost more than we may realize.
Please look at the following verse, “Although we live in the world, we don’t fight our battles with human methods.” (2 Cor. 10:3 CEB)
Now, read it again an see which words grab your attention. Ask yourself, “Why do these words grab your attention more than others?” Read through the passage again. Do you see yourself in line with this passage? Do you see yourself in line with the world?
Maybe, just maybe, a process of discernment has started.
One more thing. Politics gives us more than just an opportunity to be more discerning, it also gives us good seed for our prayers.
Pray for kings and everyone who is in authority so that we can live a quiet and peaceful life in complete godliness and dignity. This is right and it pleases God our savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (1 Tim. 2:2-4 CEB)