Recently I visited a home fellowship curtesy of an invitation by a friend who is a member of that home fellowship. The day’s discussion was on obedience to the law, especially the law of the land. The Bible tells us that God has given any people leadership in a given country, and these leaders have the authority to give people laws and enforce those laws (Romans 13:1-9, Titus 3:1, 1 Peter 2:13-15). Jesus himself alludes to this point when he was asked whether it is right to pay taxes, he replayed by saying, “…give to Ceaser whatever belongs to Ceaser.” (Mark 12:13-17). As clear as these instructions are to us as Christians, still we find ourselves breaking the law.
In the home fellowship, there was a great sense in men and women to justify themselves in their breaking of the law. One sited that in opening up a health facility he had some departments unregister, upon a visit by the government health official, he had to give a bribe that is cheaper than him having the entire facility shut down and then going to the station to deal with the police officers. The other justified that because he was in a hurry to get a passport, he went to bribe his way.
Such are stories we here and face daily. The thing is that it has not sunk deep enough in our souls that any action that is sin is against God. This is the terrifying thing about sin. Just as David, all of your sin is going against the all-powerful God (Psalm 51:3-4). Therefore he has all the jurisdictional power to punish sin. He is everywhere, meaning he is there always watching you doing that sin, so when you come before his court, God will be the judge and witness against you (Jeremiah 23:24, Psalm 139:7-10, Hebrews 4:13). God is the only pure and just judge- meaning that in his judgment nothing goes unpunished. Why does God punish sin? Because he is holy and he demands the same holiness from us (1 Peter 1:16, Matthew 5:48).
That very week, I visited government offices to follow up on our ministry organization’s papers. We are registered as a society, the same with churches. There was a lady advocate who was handling the file. She looked through it and saw that there was a legal document that was missing, and she wanted me to get it. After several unfruitful visits to that office chasing this legal document, I got frustrated. At that moment, I was tempted to give her a bribe and be done with the back and forth visits. However, I the Spirit of God held me from doing it.
She exclaimed, “If I knew that Christians could behave like this, I would have been a Muslim!” “Behave like what?” I asked. “Since I came to this office, I have found out that Christians are more corrupt than people from other religions; however, you have never tried to give me a bribe. Thank you for that!” At that moment, Romans 2:24 popped in my head. I thank God for holding us back from all the attempts to give bribes. I immediately asked her to get me the entire requirement I needed to have the file clean as it should be in law. We not only sin against God but also destroy God’s reputation to the whole world whenever we give bribes. We pull down his integrity, and so his word becomes meaningless to the people of the world. If there are two things that God holds so dear, it is his name and His Word (Psalms 138:2).
The first time I went to that office, the officer who attended to our organization’s file was all suspicious. I pulled the “we are a Christian organization” card to her, and she couldn’t even give me the benefit of the doubt. All she said, “don’t tell me that we are a Christians, in fact, you guys are the worst!” I was shocked by that statement but did not respond. Notice that because of the many occurrences that Christians have given bribes, the entire bride of Christ is perceived as promiscuous. Imagine if anyone would tell you that your bride who should be faithfully waiting for your return is prostituting herself cheaply to other men, how would you deal with her? How would you deal with those who say such ugly things about her? That is how God feels whenever you quickly give a bribe instead of persevering.
Corruption has sold us so cheaply to the word. Remember that we are not of this word, and so the desires of this world should not be part of us. Every time you are about to give or receive a bribe, or when you are about to break the law, know at least three reasons why you shouldn’t. In the first place is that you are sinning against God, not the officer, or the government, but against God. In the second place, know that it is God’s reputation and words you are putting to shame. And lastly, it is Jesus’ beloved bride, the Church; you are going about slandering.
I know one would wonder and say, you are talking like one who is not living in Kenya, man let’s get realistic,”vitu kwa ground ni different”. My answer to such is simple. Firstly when we were born again, we became a new creation. God took away our old sinful nature that was always looking for self-gratification, and he gave us a new nature that desires to see God glorified in all that we do (2 Corinthians 5:17-21). So we no longer walk in the deadness of heart and as sons of disobedience like the rest of humankind (Ephesians 2:1-5). Instead we walk by faith in the good works that we’re called to (Ephesians 2:9-10).
God has made us with new passions, and our inner desires are to please him more than we do please ourselves. When we are tempted to bribe, we desire to self-gratify by evading justice. Examine yourself and check if your desires are more to bring God glory or to make your selfish goals come to fruition.
Secondly, upon our new birth, God marks us distinct from the rest of the people. He seals us with the Holy Spirit as a guarantee for our awaited inheritance (Ephesians 1:13-14). Like the men of old (Hebrews 11) who believed in his words and avoided all form of corruption, we are likewise to fight the temptation to sin with Jesus as our example (Hebrew 12:1-4). The “cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1),” the saints of Hebrews 11, were setting their eyes on the things yet to come. They walked as aliens on this earth. I remember an alien movie I watched a long time ago; the title is ‘Mars attack’. In the movie, aliens were so different from humans, their technology, their weapons, the way they dressed, their language e.t.c. You could spot one a mile away. That kind of distinction from the world is what we are. Christians are aliens, and foreigners in this world (Hebrews 11:13), let’s embrace the role and not be like everyone else who gives bribes. Let’s look to Jesus and the great cloud of witnesses to resist this temptation.
Are you any different form the people of the world? In your dealing with corruption, are you the same as those who don’t care about God? Are you a corrupt Christian? All this said, I understand that we are living in trying times, and some of us are working in extreme environments. However severe it may be, let us hold on, to the only one who can keep us from falling (Philippians 2:12-13). Let us not lose hope, but with endurance and patience persevere (James 1:25) through all that tempts us, for we are more than conquerors through Christ Jesus, our Lord (Romans 8:37).