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Political And Civic Virtue

 

February 15th will be President's Day. It results from the Government's attempt to combine what had been the observance of Lincoln's birthday (February 12th) and Washington's birthday (February 22) but">

 

 

                                     

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Political And Civic Virtue

 

February 15th will be President's Day. It results from the Government's attempt to combine what had been the observance of Lincoln's birthday (February 12th) and Washington's birthday (February 22) but, I suppose it also allows for observance of any other president's birthday. But the underlying result may have been the establishment of one more three-day weekend at the expense of some of the publicís respect for these two great men. However, America has been blessed with many great leaders. Among them:

George Washington, our first president and general in the Revolutionary War.

Benjamin Franklin, signer of the Declaration of Independence, statesman, inventor.

Abraham Lincoln, who God raised up to unite the nation after the secession of the Confederacy.

Teddy Roosevelt, who had great pride in America and who also was a strong believer in ethical principles. Unfortunately, his views of fairness and priority also resulted in criticism for his labor versus big industry stand and similar controversies of his day.

Winston Churchill, who yes, was also an American citizen and led and saved greater Israel from the axis powers. He had great courage and character.

Conversely, in 1999 we saw the acquittal of President Clinton on perjury and obstruction of justice charges. All Democrats and a handful of Republican Senators voted in favor of that acquittal. But that national embarrassment did not end national disgrace by our politicians, for every day we hear of a similar lack of virtues among our politicians.

 

Today I want to provide you with the writings of two of these great Americans, President Theodore Roosevelt and Benjamin Franklin, particularly as their writings address the basic elements considered by the Senate in the landmark Clinton decision, but also as they apply to politicians in general, especially in these end times.

 

In 1900, Theodore Roosevelt wrote the following essay. Its title: THE EIGHTH AND NINTH COMMANDMENTS IN POLITICS. Today the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) would probably have a President in court over this essay, claiming it violated the separation of religion provisions of the constitution - which is a misrepresentation of fact. President Roosevelt wrote:

"THE two commandments which are specially applicable in public life are the eighth and the ninth. Not only every politician, high or low, but every citizen interested in politics, and especially every man who, in a newspaper or on the stump, advocates or condemns any public policy or any public man, should remember always that the two cardinal points in his doctrine ought to be, ĎThou shalt not steal,í and ĎThou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.í He should also, of course, remember that the multitude of men who break the moral law expressed in these two commandments are not to be justified because they keep one out of the clutches of the human law. Robbery and theft, perjury and subornation of perjury, are crimes punishable by the courts; but many a man who technically never commits any one of these crimes is yet morally quite as guilty as is his less adroit but not more wicked, and possibly infinitely less dangerous, brother who gets into the penitentiary.

As regards the eighth commandment, while the remark of one of the founders of our government, that the whole art of politics consists in being honest, is an overstatement, it remains true that absolute honesty is what Cromwell would have called a Ďfundamentalí of healthy political life. We can afford to differ on the currency, the tariff [notice we believed in a tariff then], and foreign policy; but we cannot afford to differ on the question of honesty if we expect our republic permanently to endure. No community is healthy where it is ever necessary to distinguish one politician among his fellows because Ďhe is honest.í Honesty is not so much a credit as an absolute prerequisite to efficient service to the public. Unless a man is honest we have no right to keep him in public life, it matters not how brilliant his capacity, it hardly matters how great his power of doing good service on certain lines may be. Probably very few men will disagree with this statement in the abstract, yet in the concrete there is much wavering about it. The number of public servants who actually take bribes is not very numerous outside of certain well-known centers of festering corruption. But the temptation to be dishonest often comes in insidious ways. There are not a few public men who, though they would repel with indignation an offer of a bribe, will give certain corporations [or unions or political interest groups, I might add] special legislative and executive privileges because they have contributed heavily to campaign funds; will permit loose and extravagant work because a contractor has political influence; or, at any rate, will permit a public servant to take public money without rendering an adequate return, by conniving at inefficient service on the part of men who are protected by prominent party leaders. Various degrees of moral guilt are involved in the multitudinous actions of this kind; but, after all, directly or indirectly, every such case comes dangerously near the border-line of the commandment which, in forbidding theft, certainly by implication forbids the connivance at theft, or the failure to punish it. One of the favorite schemes of reformers is to devise some method by which big corporations [and again, I might add, unions and political interest groups] can be prevented from making heavy subscriptions to campaign funds, and thereby acquiring improper influence. But the best way to prevent them from making contributions for improper purposes is simply to elect as public servants, not professional denouncers of corporations,ófor such men are in practice usually their most servile tools,óbut men who say, and mean, that they will neither be for nor against corporations; that, on the one hand, they will not be frightened from doing them justice by popular clamor, or, on the other hand, led by any interest whatsoever into doing them more than justice. . .

It is, of course, not enough that a public official should be honest. No amount of honesty will avail if he is not also brave and wise. The weakling and the coward cannot be saved by honesty alone; but without honesty the brave and able man is merely a civic wild beast who should be hunted down by every lover of righteousness. No man who is corrupt, no man who condones corruption in others, can possibly do his duty by the community. . . .

Great is the danger to our country from the failure among our public men to live up to the eighth commandment, from the callousness in the public which permits such shortcomings. Yet it is not exaggeration to say that the danger is quite as great from those who year in and year out violate the ninth commandment by bearing false witness against the honest man, and who thereby degrade him and elevate the dishonest man until they are both on the same level. [I might add, this is now a favorite practice among liberal politicians at election time.] The public is quite as much harmed in the one case as in the other, by the one set of wrong-doers as by the other. ĎLiarí is just as ugly a word as Ďthief,í because it implies the presence of just as ugly a sin in one case as in the other. If a man lies under oath or procures the lie of another under oath, if he perjures himself or suborns perjury, he is guilty under the statute law. Under the higher law, under the great law of morality and righteousness, he is precisely as guilty if, instead of lying in a court, he lies in a newspaper or on the stump [or, I might add, on TV, as in our day]; and in all probability the evil effects of his conduct are infinitely more wide-spread and more pernicious. The difference between perjury and mendacity [i.e. untruthfulness] is not in the least one of morals or ethics. It is simply one of legal forms.

The same man may break both commandments, or one group of men may be tempted to break one and another group of men the other. In our civic life the worst offenders against the law of honesty owe no small part of their immunity to those who sin against the law by bearing false witness against their honest neighbors. The sin is, of course, peculiarly revolting when coupled with hypocrisy, when it is committed in the name of morality. Few politicians do as much harm as the newspaper editor, [or, I might add, the TV commentator], the clergyman, or the lay reformer who, day in and day out, by virulent and untruthful invective aimed at the upholders of honesty, weakens them for the benefit of the frankly vicious. We need fearless criticism of dishonest men, and of honest men on any point where they go wrong; but even more do we need criticism which shall be truthful both in what it says and in what it leaves unsaidótruthful in words and truthful in the impression it designs to leave upon the readers' or hearers' minds.

We need absolute honesty in public life; and we shall not get it until we remember that truth-telling must go hand in hand with it, and that it is quite as important not to tell an untruth about a decent man as it is to tell the truth about one who is not decent."

James Carville, Howard Dean, Al Gore, John Edwards, are you listening? Liberal politicians, academics, and the secular, biased news media, who attempt to destroy conservatives so as to regain political power, are you listening?

Yes, Theodore Roosevelt was a man of courage and high moral standards. We surely miss such leaders today.

Now I want to address the principles of a man who was not president, but was an outstanding, influential founding father.

During Benjamin Franklinís long and productive lifetime, he:

1. Represented the colonies to Britain.

2. Was America's diplomat abroad and ambassador to France.

3. Signed the Declaration of Independence.

4. Helped frame the Federal constitution.

5. Acquired a fortune as a printer while still a young man.

6. Became an image of America. One of his statements, of which I am reminded daily, was, "When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic." What a prophesy of today's efforts to get the government to pay for health care, unemployment, food stamps, retirement, farm supports, and a bundle of other social programs designed to buy votes for politicians. The continual budget deficit, accumulating into the national debt year by year for most of the past 60 years, and almost all our taxes could be eliminated by adherence to Franklin's views and the strict interpretation of the Constitution's moral absolutes.

7. Benjamin Franklin became a great swimmer.

8. Became one of America's first great scientists.

9. Had a goal to conquer all bad inclinations. (We will talk about this later.)

10. Stated that bad habits had to be broken and new good ones taken up.

 

Everyone in the church knows that one of our biggest problems is to overcome our human nature. As we read in Rev. 3:12:

(Rev 3:12) "He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. And I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.

[Pause]

Benjamin Franklin enlisted 13 virtues by which he planned to regulate the rest of his life. These virtues were: Temperance, silence, order, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, tranquility, chastity and humility.

We will now look at each of these virtues in the light of God's Word:

A. His first virtue was: Temperance - His words were "Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation." Today people would say "don't overeat or over-drink." We might add to that: Don't eat the wrong kinds of food.

(Prov 23:19-21) Listen, my son, and be wise, and keep your heart on the right path. {20} Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, {21} for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.

But temperance includes more than overeating or over-drinking.

(1 Cor 9:25-27 NIV) Everyone who competes (in the games) goes into strict training (per KJV: is temperate in all things). They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. {26} Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. {27} No, I keep my body under subjection and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize (be castaway). [Certain 2006 American winter Olympics athletes should have practiced this virtue and avoided being sent home.]

B. Franklinís second virtue was Silence - "speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation".

(Eccl 3:1 NKJV) To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:

(Verse 7 NASB) A time to tear apart, and a time to sew together; A time to be silent, and a time to speak.

(Prov 21:23 NASB) He who guards his mouth and his tongue, Guards his soul from troubles.

(Prov 17:28 NKJV) Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; When he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive.

Or a similar expression: "ĎTis better to be silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt."

C. Third virtue: Order - "let all things have their places and let all your activities have their time".

1 Cor 14:33-35 refers to both order and silence:

(1 Cor 14:33-35 NKJV) For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the congregations of the saints. {34} Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. {35} And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.

This law seems to refer to Genesis 3:16 which says:

(Gen 3:16 NKJV) To the woman He said: "I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you."

The apparent point is that the husband should teach his wife and field her questions. There is an implication that a question by the wife in church might embarrass the husband in that it might indicate he has not taught her adequately. Obviously many western women today let their independence get in the way of this law.

(1 Cor 14:40 NIV) But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.

D. Fourth virtue: Resolution - "resolve to perform what you ought. Decide what you should do and then perform it without fail".

(James 1:22-25 NIV) Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. {23} Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror {24} and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. {25} But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it--he will be blessed in what he does.

(Rom 2:13 NIV) For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.

This is an important precept for many who prefer to loosen down the law to fit their own rationalization or desire of the moment. We must resolve to do what is right - all the time. It is also a lesson for those who believe that faith alone and not works will enable them to be found righteous at judgment time.

E. Fifth virtue: Frugality - "Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e. waste nothing". In another text he stated, "It is necessary for me to be extremely frugal for some time, till I have paid what I owe".

Benjamin Franklin obviously didnít believe in carrying a lot of debt or spending money on what didnít benefit someone.

(Prov 11:24-25 NIV) One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. {25} A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.

(John 6:11-13 NIV) Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. {12} When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, "Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted." {13} So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.

F. Sixth virtue: Industry - "To apply myself industriously to whatever business I take in hand, and not divert my mind from my business by any foolish project of growing suddenly rich; for industry and patience are the surest means of plenty."

In other words, waste no time. Be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions, especially those involving some get-rich-quick scheme.

(Eph 5:15-16 NKJV) See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, {16} redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

Arenít they ever! Every day they become more evil.

(1 Th 4:11-12 NIV) Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we commanded you, {12} so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

You might say, live so that others will admire your life-style.

(Prov 27:23-27 NIV) Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds; {24} for riches do not endure forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations.{25} When the hay is removed and new growth appears and the grass from the hills is gathered in, {26} the lambs will provide you with clothing, and the goats with the price of a field. {27} You will have plenty of goats' milk to feed you and your family and to nourish your servant girls.

(Prov 31:10-31 NIV) describes the epitome of industry:

A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. {11} Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. {12} She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. {13} She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. {14} She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. {15} She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls. {16} She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. {17} She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. {18} She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. {19} In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. {20} She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. {21} When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet (double layered clothes). {22} She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. {23} Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. {24} She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes. {25} She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. {26} She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. {27} She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. {28} Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: {29} "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all." {30} Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. {31} Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

(Prov 10:5 NIV) He who gathers crops in summer is a wise son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.

(2 Th 3:10-13 NASB) For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone will not work, neither let him eat. {11} For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. {12} Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread. {13} But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good.

(Prov 12:11 NKJV) He who tills his land will be satisfied with bread, But he who follows frivolity is devoid of understanding.

(Prov 12:24 NIV) Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labor.

G. The seventh virtue: Sincerity - "To endeavor to speak truth in every instance, to give nobody expectations that are not likely to be answered, but aim at sincerity in every word and action: the most amiable excellence in a rational being." In another instance he said, "Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and if you speak, speak accordingly." In other words, be honest.

(1 Cor 5:8 NKJV) Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

(1 Tim 1:5-7 NIV) The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. {6} Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk. {7} They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.

(John 4:23-24 NKJV) "But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. {24} "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."

(2 Cor 1:12 NKJV) For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you.

(John 1:47-51 NIV) When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, "Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false." {48} "How do you know me?" Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, "I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you." {49} Then Nathanael declared, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel." {50} Jesus said, "You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that." {51} He then added, "I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man." [He promised him eternal life in the KOG because of his sincerity and truth.]

(1 Pet 2:21-24 NIV) To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. {22} "He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth." {23} When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. {24} He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.

How many of you have experienced deceit from people who believe they are the epitome of Christianity? I can well remember being encouraged by leaders in a former church to hide facts by double talk. It was called "being wise."

(1 Th 2:1-6 NKJV) For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain. {2} But even after we had suffered before and were spitefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we were bold in our God to speak to you the gospel of God in much conflict. {3} For our exhortation did not come from error or uncleanness, nor was it in deceit. {4} But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts. {5} For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak for covetousness; God is witness. {6} Nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, when we might have made demands as apostles of Christ.

I cannot leave the subject of sincerity without again considering the statements by President Theodore Roosevelt on perjury we read earlier. Letís look at one more scripture reference on the subject of sincerity.

(Exo 23:1-2 NKJV) "You shall not circulate a false report. Do not put your hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness. {2} "You shall not follow a crowd to do evil; nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after many to pervert justice.

(Verse 6 NIV) "Do not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits.

Brethren, be sincere. Sincerity is honesty and we just read what President Teddy Roosevelt had to say about that.

H. Benjamin Franklinís eighth virtue is Justice - wrong no one by doing injuries, or omitting benefits which are your duty.

(James 4:17 NIV) Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.

(Gen 6:9 NIV) This is the account of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.

(Acts 10:22 NKJV) And they said, "Cornelius the centurion, a just man, one who fears God and has a good reputation among all the nation of the Jews, was divinely instructed by a holy angel to summon you to his house, and to hear words from you."

(Prov 8:15 NKJV) By me kings reign, And rulers decree justice.

(Gen 18:17-19 NIV) Then the LORD said, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? {18} Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. {19} For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him."

I. The ninth virtue: Moderation - "avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve." What a lesson for today's attorneys and their clients. Mr. Franklin would be very upset if he could see today's greedy society and the price that greed is and has cost us.

(Phil 4:5 NIV) Let your gentleness (moderation in KJV) be evident to all. The Lord is near.

(1 Tim 3:2-3 NIV) Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, {3} not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.

(Titus 3:1-3 NIV) Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities [civil authorities], to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, {2} to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men. {3} At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.

(James 3:17 NKJV) But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.

(1 Pet 2:18 NKJV) Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh.

J. The tenth virtue: Cleanliness - tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.

(Exo 40:32 NKJV) Whenever they went into the tabernacle of meeting, and when they came near the altar, they washed, as the LORD had commanded Moses.

(2 Cor 7:1 NASB) Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

There are many, many places in the OT where people are admonished to wash their clothes and bodies. Cleanliness is very, very important to God.

K. The eleventh virtue: Tranquility - Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents, common or unavoidable. Accept things.

(Psa 119:165 NIV) Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.

(Phil 4:6-7 NIV) Be anxious for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. {7} And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

L. The twelfth virtue: Chastity - Being sexually clean and pure. "Rarely use venery (the gratification of sexual desire) but for health or offspring; never to dulness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation".

(1 Cor 6:18-20 NIV) Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. {19} Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; {20} you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

M. The thirteenth virtue: Humility - imitate Jesus.

Benjamin Franklin admitted that he never acquired the reality of this virtue, but he did succeed in gaining the appearance of it. He did this by making it a rule to forbear all direct contradiction to the sentiments of others and all positive assertions of his own. Instead of saying "certainly, undoubtedly, etc.", he would say "I conceive", "I apprehend", "I imagine" a thing to be so or "It appears to me at present" to be so. He found a readier reception and less contradiction by others; and less mortification by himself when he was wrong. He concluded there was no natural passion so hard to subdue as pride. "You can disguise it, struggle with it, beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as you please, and it will still remain alive and periodically pop up and show itself much to your embarrassment. And if you finally conceive that you have completely overcome it, you will probably become proud of your humility."

(Mat 18:1-4 NIV) At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" {2} He called a little child and had him stand among them. {3} And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. {4} Therefore , whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Benjamin Franklin's intention was to acquire the habit of all these virtues. He knew he could not accomplish them all at once, so he made himself a weekly chart to mark down each time he failed in keeping the virtue. Each week became a page in the book.

In the early days of an earlier church, we were also admonished to make a list of our weaknesses from which we could work to overcome them.

Franklinís prayer, which was attached to his book was: "O powerful Goodness! bountiful Father! merciful Guide! Increase in me that wisdom which discovers my truest interest. Strengthen my resolutions to perform what that wisdom dictates. Accept my kind offices to thy other children as the only return in my power for thy continual favors to me." How profound!

Before I close, I want to provide a dozen or so current questions which seem to be answered by the quotes of Teddy Roosevelt:

A. In regards to whether perjury and obstruction of justice are crimes which warrant removal from office, Roosevelt stated: "We can as little afford to tolerate a dishonest man in the public service as a coward in the army."

B. In regards to a presidentís high job approval ratings, Roosevelt stated: "This country has nothing to fear from the crooked man who fails. We put him in jail. It is the crooked man who succeeds who is a threat to this country."

C. In regards to public apathy (a major problem today), Roosevelt stated: "You cannot have honesty in public life unless the average citizen demands honesty in public life."

D. In regards to the perception that all politicians lie, Roosevelt stated: "A lie is no more to be excused in politics than out of politics." I might add, the same could be said for the legal profession.

E. In regards to public worth vs. private conduct, Roosevelt stated: "No words can paint the scorn and contempt which must be felt by all right-thinking men, not only for the brutal husband, but the husband who fails to show full loyalty and consideration for his wife."

F. In regards to breaking an oath, Roosevelt stated: "The man who makes a promise which he does not intend to keep, and does not try to keep, should rightly be judged to have forfeited in some degree what should be every manís most precious possession - his honor."

G. In regards to the position as Commander in chief, can his private conduct be less than the men he leads?, Roosevelt stated: "A stream cannot rise higher than its source."- "No man can lead a public career really worth leading, no man can act with rugged independence in serious crises, nor unscrupulous foes, if he is himself vulnerable in his private character."

H. Should the nationís economic success be a factor in considering conviction? Roosevelt stated: "No prosperity and no glory can save a nation that is rotten at the heart."

I. Can political skill be more important than moral responsibility? Roosevelt stated: "There is not in all America a more dangerous trait than the deification of mere smartness unaccompanied by any sense of moral responsibility."

J. How does the nation regain its moral footing? Roosevelt stated: "What is needed is common honesty, common sense and common courage. We need the minor, the humdrum, the practical virtues - the commonplace virtues that are absolutely essential if we are to make this [country] what it should be. If these virtues are lacking, no amount of cleverness will answer."

K. Is the concern of some government leaders that their vote would jeopardize their job valid? Roosevelt stated: "I would rather go out of politics feeling that I had done what was right than stay in with the approval of all men, knowing in my heart that I had acted as I ought not to."

L. What of peopleís lack of courage to convict? Roosevelt stated: "The man who, in the long run, will count for most in bettering municipal life, is the man who actually steps down into the hurly-burly, who is not frightened by the sweat and the blood, and the blows of friends and foes, who haunts not the fringy edges of the fight but the pell-mell of men."

M. Do heads of state have more privileges in minor legal matters? Roosevelt stated: "No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any manís permission when we require him to obey it."

N. Can the House of Representatives overstep their bounds? Roosevelt stated: "I honor beyond measure those who do their full duty and all the more because the doing of duty generally means pain, hardship, self-mastery, self-denial, endurance of risk, of labor, of irksome monotony, wearing effort, steady perseverance under difficulty and discouragement."

O. To uphold the dignity of the presidency, what should a President regard as the proper way to perform his duties of office? Roosevelt stated: "Any man who has ever been honored by being made President of the United States is thereby forever after rendered the debtor of the American people, and is in honor bound throughout his life to remember this as his prime obligation; and in private life, as much as in public life, so to carry himself that the American people may never have cause to feel regret that once they placed him at their head."

 

Both Theodore Roosevelt and Benjamin Franklin held to sound principles of life. What are our principles of life? Do we, like Theodore Roosevelt, obtain our principles from the Bible? Can we, in these end days, publically admit that we try with every fiber of our being to follow Biblical guidelines? Or do we, like most people, prostitute ourselves before every high place and idol shrine? Do we care who we worship and studiously compare what is occurring in the world with Biblical prophesy?

Letís take the current controversy over Iranian development of nuclear weapons which could even reach Europe, for instance. Or their and other Israeli neighborís threats to destroy Israel. Theodore Roosevelt promised to defend South America from military threats. Do we take the same stand for protection of our best Middle East friend, Israel? Potential enemies such as Red China threaten U.S. interests in the western Pacific. Red China also manages the Panama Canal. Militant Mexican drug lords operate along our southern border. Do any of these threats to our gates have a Biblical basis? Surely, the secular news media cannot report these threats and events in Israel from a prophetic perspective. They can only report from daily observation of on-going events and hopefully without political bias. Consider Nahum 3:13 and Rev 18:17 as a possible aftermath of a major attack on US ports.

(Nahum 3:13 NASB) Behold, your people are women in your midst! The gates of your land are opened wide to your enemies; Fire consumes your gate bars.

(Rev 18:17-18 NKJV) 'For in one hour such great riches came to nothing.' Every shipmaster, all who travel by ship, sailors, and as many as trade on the sea, stood at a distance {18} "and cried out when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, 'What is like this great city?'

Granted, these prophesies are not specific about when or where these events will occur but they should give us pause to consider their application and potential devastation. Are we familiar with these and other prophetic scriptures? Do too many of those who rule this country act like silly women? Is this nation still able to "trust in God and stand in awe" as Psalms 4 admonishes?

(Psa 4 NKJV) Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; Have mercy on me, and hear my prayer. {2} How long, O you sons of men, Will you turn my glory to shame? How long will you love worthlessness And seek falsehood? Selah {3} But know that the LORD has set apart for Himself him who is godly; The LORD will hear when I call to Him. {4} Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Selah {5} Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, And put your trust in the LORD. {6} There are many who say, "Who will show us any good?" LORD, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us. {7} You have put gladness in my heart, More than in the season that their grain and wine increased. {8} I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.

If this nation does not stay close to God, it is probably destined to experience the prophesy described in Revelation 17 and 18. We must be among those whom the LORD has set apart. If we are, we can lie down in peace. For only the LORD can provide us safety from the potential disasters we see on the horizon. Remember the words of Christ:

(Mat 24:22 NKJV) "And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened.

Yes, Theodore Roosevelt and Benjamin Franklin were great Americans. Let's all make their virtues our virtues for the rest of our lives.

The source of the data about Benjamin Franklin is from his own autobiography. The source of the essay of Theodore Roosevelt is from the 7th document of "The Strenuous Life", published in the "Outlook" on May 12, 1900. It can be found on the Internet at http://www.bartleby.com/58/7.html. The last comments by Theodore Roosevelt were from various sources, including Human Events.

 

 

Sermon given by Wayne Bedwell

6 February 2010

 

Copyright 2010, Wayne Bedwell

 

 

 

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