This morning I was listening to Victoria Derbyshire’s show on BBC 5 Live. On the program today she lead a discussion live from Bromsgrove, Worcestershire discussing people’s trust in the political system. The main focus of the program, as expected, were MPs expenses scandal. Everyone in the audience was still absolutely furious about the whole scandal.
It seems that the expenses scandal will impact heavily on this election. I’m not quite sure who will benefit from this. Unfortunately it seems that none of the parties will benefit but rather even more people will decide not to vote at all; this is very unfortunate. But from a Christian perspective it is interesting to note that the Bible has something to say about the expenses scandal.
One of my political heroes throughout history is Nehemiah, the genius who led the rebuilding of Jerusalem around 445 BC. Many things could be said about the integrity of Nehemiah as a leader but the little story below is very relevant to us in light of the current expenses scandal.
The practice at the time of Nehemiah was that the governors took from the people as they pleased to look after themselves. Something fairly similar to what many members of Parliament today did through their abuse of the expenses system. But unlike many of his contemporaries Nehemiah refused the temptation to make personal luxury at the expense of the people. The story starts here in Chapter 5, verse 14 of the book of Nehemiah in the Bible.
14 For the entire twelve years that I was governor of Judah—from the twentieth year to the thirty-second year of the reign of King Artaxerxes —neither I nor my officials drew on our official food allowance.
15 The former governors, in contrast, had laid heavy burdens on the people, demanding a daily ration of food and wine, besides forty pieces of silver. Even their assistants took advantage of the people. But because I feared God, I did not act that way.
16 I also devoted myself to working on the wall and refused to acquire any land. And I required all my servants to spend time working on the wall.
17 I asked for nothing, even though I regularly fed 150 Jewish officials at my table, besides all the visitors from other lands!
18 The provisions I paid for each day included one ox, six choice sheep or goats, and a large number of poultry. And every ten days we needed a large supply of all kinds of wine. Yet I refused to claim the governor’s food allowance because the people already carried a heavy burden.
19 Remember, O my God, all that I have done for these people, and bless me for it.
In Nehemiah we see a political leader full of integrity and humility because he lived to serve and worship God. All politicians facing constituents over the next few weeks would benefit greatly if they following this pattern of leadership Nehemiah laid out.