Monday, April 5, 2010

Honest Government


Honest scales and balances are from the Lord; all the weights in the bag are of his making. Kings detest wrongdoing, for a throne is established through righteousness." Proverbs 16:11-12

The great enemy of the people is a corrupt legal system and ruling elite. Years ago God stipulated that business practices and legal systems practice godly ethics and righteousness. This is not only honorable before God, but it provides the most wholesome opportunity for people to live lives of dignity.

One hundred and fifty years before Christ a wealthy and well-placed member of Roman society, Tiberius Gracchus, was returning home from war. Tiberius didn’t have to go to war. As a member of the upper class he could have sat out of military service. But, he was patriotic and wanted to do his part to ensure the health and vitality of the Roman Empire. So he enlisted.

Tiberius was excited to return home, but upon reaching the limits of his home territory he became very discouraged. Where once there had been numerous farm settlements there now was large tracts of abandoned land. Members of the wealthier classes had been acquiring the land for themselves and developing large estates.

Roman law stipulated that land taken from enemy countries should be made available for public use. The people fought for the land, so they should have access to it. Farmers, laborers, and even the poor would be allowed to rent land, up to three hundred and thirty acres, at a moderate fee to build houses and raise crops. The money they paid the government would go into the public treasury.

But the well-placed and powerful saw an opportunity for their own benefit. By using their position and power they were able to displace the laboring class from the land and take it over for themselves. They didn’t limit their take to only three hundred and thirty acres, either. They took as much land as they wanted to build their mansions or to rent it back to the farmers at much higher rates than the government originally had.

Tiberius was appalled by the complete disregard for the law and for the needs of the poor and working class. These people fought for Rome, yet when they returned from battle, many of them did not have a garden plot to raise their food or a house to sleep in. Within a few hundred yards of the wealthy estates poor people were starving. He decided to do rectify these wrongs.

Tiberius announced that the wealthy robbers should give up the lands they had taken. He did not make war on the wealthy, but he attacked the advantages they gained by doing wrong.

The people were happy and the land grabbers were angry. The wealthy accused Tiberius of disturbing the peace and said he should be killed. But, the great land reformer and advocate of honest government and fair policies did not back down. In a speech to the people he said: "The wild beasts of Italy have their dens and caves, but the brave men who spill their blood in her cause have nothing left but the light and the air. Without houses, without any settled homes, they wander from place to place with their wives and children. They fight and die in order to advance the wealth and luxury of the great. They are called the masters of the world, while they have not a foot of ground in their possession."

The poor elected Tiberius to public office and under his leadership much public land was returned to the people. In their great hatred for him the aristocrats schemed his death They believed that when he died and things went back to how they were, the poor would believe it was the will of the gods, and they would be content. At a public meeting the aristocrats rushed Tiberius and beat him to death with clubs. His body was thrown into the river. (Thomas E. Watson, Sketches from Roman History, Noontide Press).

No class in society is inherently evil or good. But, when one class uses its power inappropriately it can cause others to suffer intolerably. God envisions each class in society functioning in its role for the benefit of the whole community. Kings and other leaders are to detest wrongdoing and are to govern with ethics and concern for the people. The working class contributes labor producing food and other products for the good of all. When each functions as God intends, peace and prosperity is possible. But, when either class decides that labor and government can be manipulated for selfish ends, suffering ensues (cf. Proverbs 28:15).

The wisdom and ethics of Proverbs seeks to establish order in all spheres of life, including our personal lives, the family, neighborhood, work environment and even society at large. It is to the benefit of all that honest scales (ethical business) and righteous government prevails, because not every generation is fortunate enough to have a Tiberius rise up.

Warren Baldwin


  1. Warren,

    I think maybe a Tiberius does rise up in every generation and quite often meets the same fate. Sometimes these Tiberius have an effect, at least for a while, and some may be snuffed out before they can cause a ripple.

    It seems like business and government have become so entangled with each other and with their own self-serving goals, both have lost sight of the good of the people. It is very difficult to tell who or which is ethical or righteous. But we know that of us all, don't we? Otherwise, there would have been no need for Easter.


  2. Warren,
    There is nothing else to say, but: AMEN!!


  3. Larry - I agree with your comments, esp the part about Easter. I think you are right that there is a Tiberius every generation, but I guess circumstances don't always allow him to rise to the top where he can do his good work.

    Andrea - Thanks!

  4. Warren: I did not know this about Tiberius.

    Do you think our government is headed for the same ruin as the Romans, unless we repent?

  5. P.S. I think it's wonderful that you are training future preacher's! My pastor husband got his start preaching for a youth Sunday. That was almost 45 years ago. May the Lord honor your work.

  6. Jeanette -

    I'm inclined to say, "Yes." I definitely think as a nation we have some serious repenting to do. Even the church has some repenting to do.

    Interestingly, Tiberius had a younger brother who shared a similar fate. I plan on doing a separate post about him.

    Thanks for the comment.


  7. Reading this made me think of the workplace I just left. Poor ethics, taking advantage of the emotionally distraught families-etc. Blowing the whistle doesn't always pay but we need to do what is morally right no matter the outcome.

  8. Terri Tiffany left the following comment, which for some reason did not register on the site. Maybe it will later:

    "Reading this made me think of the workplace I just left. Poor ethics, taking advantage of the emotionally distraught families-etc. Blowing the whistle doesn't always pay but we need to do what is morally right no matter the outcome."

    Terri's blog:

  9. Amen Warren, thanks and God bless. Also, Warren thanks for the invite to write on a book I've read on marriage, but to be honest, I've never read any. God bless

  10. Thank you for coming by earlier bro. Warren and thank you for sharing this with me. How this story is still true to this very day. From the military who give their all and risk their lives, only to come home, wounded from the war, with less help from our government. And to the others who work so hard, but being stepped upon by stronger, greedy ones. Like what happened to our economy, a product of corrupt and greedy people, leaders trusted by the people, yet all they did were to come up with empty promises. I believe that everything is happening, too because many keeps turning their backs away from the Lord. Like what you said, we may not be able to change the situation, but we can at least pray. And I believe in the power of prayers knowing that God wants us to do that, though He already knows what we need, what we are asking for. It's really a trying, tough time to so many. But I know and I believe God is in control and for those of us who know Him, we can continue to stand in the gap for others who are still lost. Blessings to you bro. Warren and to God be the glory always! Have a great week and may God continue to protect you and your family.

  11. There are those such as myself that believe that this present government is the most ungodly administration that the United States has ever had. I have no idea why God continues to bless America. I agree with you, she has much to repent of and the way the church is headed...soon we'll not tell the differance between it and the world.
    Too many listening to Rick Warren and not to God's Word.
    I'm now a follower on this blog...I invite you to look mine over also.