15A ruler who mistreats the poor
is like a roaring lion
or a bear hunting for food.
16A heartless leader is a fool,
but anyone who refuses
to get rich by cheating others
will live a long time.
17Don't give help to murderers!
Make them stay on the run
for as long as they live.
In some parts of the world today it is not possible to do business without kickbacks or travel from place to place without slipping the authorities a bribe. Corruption is not just endemic, it’s normal and our reading tells us it’s been around a long, long time.
Every year Transparency International produces a global corruption index that spells out in detail the negative impact on civil society, conflict, poverty, justice and human rights that people experience living under a corrupt regime.
No country is corruption free but some of the most corrupt are highly Christianized; some of the least corrupt are the most secular. Whatever country they are in, Transparency International’s call to unmask the corrupt echoes both the don’t-let-them-get-away-with-it and the there-is-no-quick-fix sentiments that we pick up from verse 17.
But the writer of Proverbs goes a lot further and makes it personal. If you turn a blind eye to bribery and corruption you are in effect complicit. And in the long term, not working purposefully at making a stand against corruption and exploitation is bad for your personal health and well-being (you’ll live a long time).
It seems that having personal integrity is not just ethically sound, it’s hard work. But it’s godly enlightened self-interest too!
God of justice and peace, Shine your light into the darkness of corruption wherever it exists in your world. Give me the ability to discern rightly not if but how I should respond. And give me the courage to make a stand against corruption when and where I need to. I ask this in your Son’s name, Amen.