20 March 2006

throne of righteousness

throne of righteousness

For Monday, March 20, 2006
Proverbs 16:12

It is an abomination to kings to do evil,
for the throne is established by righteousness.

In his infamous political treatise, The Prince, the Florentine official and humanist, Machiavelli wrote,

A wise lord cannot and ought not keep faith when such observance may be turned against him, and when the reasons that led him to pledge faith no longer exist...But it is necessary to know well how to disguise this characteristic and to be a great pretender and dissembler.

For Machiavelli, a ruler must always calculate carefully, preferring his subjects' fear over their love, and acting only in those ways that will sustain and shore up his power.

The biblical picture of government, however, is different, refusing any continual maneuvering that seeks power apart from the constraints of righteousness and simply for power's sake. And though we ourselves may not hold political office, as a royal priesthood in Jesus Christ, we are seated with him in heavenly places and are stewards of his kingdom on earth.

Jesus himself teaches us the pattern of godly governance, cruciform love lived upon the throne of the cross: "He who wishes to rule, must become the servant of all." The biblical paradox is that the truly human dominion for which Adam was created (and which he lost in asserting his own will over against God's), is one that loses itself in love for others. That is the kind of righteousness by which God establishes thrones, whereas power schemes like those of Machiavelli are doomed from the start.

Let us, then, abominate doing evil in order that good might come of it and let us seek to serve one another in love. Even though, humanly speaking, we may see little progress or fruit from our loving labors, today's proverb nonetheless promises us that in such service God reigns through his people.