This is so that the living will know that the Most High is ruler over human kingdoms. He gives them to anyone he wants and sets the lowliest of people over them.-Daniel 4:17
It’s time for our quad-annual dose of democratic frenzy. I’m just going to go out on a limb and guess that one of your local church elders is not running for president. In that case, we know that the names on our ballots (however we end up voting!) will not be elder-qualified. Tempered with that caveat, we must endure the next three months of politicking. But what spiritual principles can help us maintain our faith and avoid despair as we walk this gauntlet?
God is sovereign over all nations.
In Daniel 4 Nebudchadnezzar’s pride as ruler of Babylon is answered by God humbling him with a fit of insanity. The purpose of this humbling is “so that the living will know that the Most High is ruler over human kingdoms” (Daniel 4:17).
This means that whatever happens with the election, we can take comfort knowing who’s driving the bus of history and our nation. God’s sovereignty humbles us when we overestimate our greatness, even as a nation, and points us to faith in him.
God appoints all rulers.
We also learn in Daniel 4 that God appoints rulers over the nations, “He gives them to anyone he wants and sets the lowliest of people over them” (Daniel 4:17). The apostle Paul affirms this truth in Romans 13:1, “ Let everyone submit to the governing authorities, since there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are instituted by God.”
This means we can wake up the morning after the election with faith in God ready to submit to whoever won the day. We especially need this truth if our preferred party/candidate loses the election.
Democracy is a blessing, not a right. Use it wisely.
Technically democracy is a right in our nation, but historically speaking most of the world’s population has not had a direct say in their government. The gospel has thrived under such conditions without interruption. In a world broken by sin, democracy may be the best form of government as it provides so many checks and balances on its rulers.
This means we shouldn’t take democracy for granted. It is a blessing to be used with discernment. We should seek wisdom from God as we vote, knowing that he graciously gives it to those who ask in faith (James 1:5).
Honoring God with our speech is not optional.
In Ephesians 4:29 the apostle Paul calls Christians to God-glorifying speech: “No foul language should come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear.”
As we speak and interact with others about the election, political issues, and candidates, let us do so in ways that build up rather than tear down. It is possible to speak intelligently about an issue without it devolving into an argument, but it requires much grace and maturity. This is especially difficult on social media, so let us be vigilant to give grace if/as we post.
We need to pray for our government.
Finally, in 1 Timothy 2:1-2 we are called to pray for our leaders, “ First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.”
Our governments—federal, state, and local—are facing immense challenges due to the coronavirus and its fallout. Pray for wisdom for our leaders. Pray for humility and repentance over sin. Pray for clarity and compassion as they make decisions. Most of all, pray that their governing would result in a peaceful nation where the gospel thrives as we lead tranquil lives in all godliness and dignity.