Yesterday found me in a blog-induced funk. I’d been writing and reading and suddenly looked up and realized the time. Praise God, life does not exist merely in the pixels I see on the screen or in these words that I write!
My thoughts have been turning lately towards the presidential campaign. I’ve been praying about and writing blogs in support of Governor Huckabee. Many of my blog postings lately have been prompted not necessarily through Scripture, although I always try to back up my words with this authority. But last night my reading took me into 1 Timothy, and I was suddenly struck by how ALIVE the words of God are and how they are relevant even today in the year 2008.
In chapter 5, Paul gives instructions to Timothy on how to have good relationships with others — older men, younger men, older women, younger women, and widows.
1 Never speak harshly to an older man,[a] but appeal to him respectfully as you would to your own father. Talk to younger men as you would to your own brothers. 2 Treat older women as you would your mother, and treat younger women with all purity as you would your own sisters.
3 Take care of[b] any widow who has no one else to care for her. 4 But if she has children or grandchildren, their first responsibility is to show godliness at home and repay their parents by taking care of them. This is something that pleases God.
Notice the comparison. Paul tells Timothy that he ought to treat every person as if he or she is a member of his own family. In other words, be careful to show as much love and respect to others as you do to your family (assuming, of course, that you treat your own family with respect!) We are told that when we do this, it pleases God.
It pleases God. Wow — above all else, I want to stand before my Father in heaven and have him be pleased with me. I want my earthly parents, my husband, and my daughter to be pleased with me. But I especially yearn to hear praise from the Father’s lips…knowing, of course, that anything I do that is good has its source in Him and is for His glory. It’s not about me. I want to be….like the piano. I want to be so in tune with the Lord that He can sit down and play me and find that I perform just as He created me to be so that others will hear the music that comes from me and will marvel at the musician, not at me.
One way I can be an instrument for God’s love is to see people — really see them as God sees them, as members of my family.
Now take a step with me if you will into Governor Huckabee’s record (you didn’t think I’d write on a primary day without mentioning him, did you??!). In his book From Hope to Higher Ground, Huckabee writes about what happened when an influx of Katrina refugees flooded Arkansas borders. As I read from 1 Timothy last night, I was struck by the Governor’s response. It seemed as if Paul himself was writing it!
“I had told our cabinet the day before….that the mission would be ‘to take care of people first and fill out the paperwork later.’ I challenged everyone working in our relief efforts to ask this simple question, “How would I want to be treated if it were me?” Each person was told that if they saw a seven-year-old coming off a bus or airplane, ‘Treat them how you would want your own seven-year-old to be treated in such a circumstance.’ When seeing an elderly and bewildered person, ask, ‘If this were my grandmother, how would I want someone to treat her?’ Once we established the Golden Rule criteria for all our operations, everything else got much easier.”
-From Hope to Higher Ground, by Mike Huckabee, page 12
Mike’s leadership gave these people hope, dignity, and respect. He followed Jesus’ teaching to “Do unto others as you would have done unto you,” and he also followed the advice given to Timothy.
And the Lord was pleased, don’t you think?
This just goes to show how Biblical teachings are not draped in cobwebs or destined for the vault of discarded 8-track tapes and vinyl records. The words in Scripture are living, and if we let them, they breathe life and insight into our complex and difficult lives.
If you look at Governor Huckabee’s record, you will ultimately find that he put a premium on placing people before the paperwork. If you read his book you’ll find a story about how difficult it used to be to secure a vehicle registration in Arkansas. Whew! I thought Texas laws were cumbersome! Huckabee went to the local DMV office and talked to the person who’d worked behind the counter for twenty years. “How would you fix it?” he asked her. She gave her practical advice, and guess what? Now people can complete the registration process online. Snip snip — hear that red tape being ripped?
The basis behind putting people ahead of paperwork can be found in 1 Timothy chapter 2. As we head into the last hours of the Florida primary, I pray this scripture over those who will be voting, over those who have already voted, over those who will not vote, over those who cannot vote and over all the candidates and their families:
1 I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. 2 Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. 3 This is good and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.
That’s another way we can please God our Savior — to pray for all people. That word all means all. Not just Republicans. Not just Democrats. Not just Americans, either. If we as a country could join hands across the aisle and put people ahead of paperwork, ahead of politics…imagine what God can accomplish through us!