sermon: The Chemistry of Government
John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 09-Jul-94; 84 minutes
We are going to begin this sermon in Malachi 2. I want to start there so that we build a foundation.
This is going to be a sermon that concerns itself with principles involved in child rearing.
I will be referring to child rearing every once in a while. But I have to admit, that is not really the reason why I am going into it. Although the sermon is very important in regard to child rearing, I am more concerned about the principles that are involved in governing, because they are the same as the principles that are involved in child rearing.
There is not a whole lot of difference at all. In child rearing we get the opportunity to practice the kind of principles that should be a part of government.
This is not going to be a sermon on exactly how to do this, but rather generalities that have to do with principles of governance.
Here in Malachi 2, we find a major responsibility that is involved with being a parent.
Malachi 2:15 But did He not make them one [meaning man and wife] having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? [Why the family? Why are a man and a woman to become one?] He seeks godly offspring.
There is a major purpose of marriage. It is through marriage that God's plan continues. It is through marriage that God's plan operates on a physical basis. When God created the man and the woman, the very next step was to create the family. And then, of course, from a family come children, and from the children come those who are going to be part of the Kingdom of God.
A family is extremely important to God's purpose because here children are produced. The quality of those children is going to be determined largely by the quality of the parents and the principles that they use in rearing their children.
With that foundation, God told the man and the woman to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the earth, and subdue it. Rearing children—rearing godly children—is a challenging task in any generation, and I think in many cases it appears to be more like art than it is science.
Witness Adam and Eve (think about their experience) who reared a murderer without the presence of any peer pressure. They could not blame the kids that Cain ran around with. There was no television to distract them at all. There were no ghettos that they lived in. As a matter of fact, they lived in probably one of the most beautiful environments that had ever been created. There were no street gangs that Cain and Abel could run with. And yet one of their children turned out to be a murderer!
Now, between 1960 and the present time, in a matter of about 34 years, we in the United States have lived through some of the most sweeping social changes that any nation has ever experienced in such a short period of time. We are witnessing some of the products of that period in the conduct of the present administration in Washington, D. C.
They are governing the country now. George (H.W.) Bush was the last president that came from a generation of people who was born before the Second World War and spent part of their time living during the Depression.
The figurehead for all of this administration is, of course, the President, and everyone knows how his morality is being scrutinized by virtually everybody in the country. And everybody is kind of shaking their heads, scratching their heads, wondering, “What in the world is going on with this man and his wife? Is what’s being reported really true or not?”
Well, whether it is true or not, there is no doubt that sweeping changes have taken place, and once a change has been accomplished, the mores of the generation that was reared during this changing time become part of the nation's traditions—that is, they become the mores of the majority of the people, and it becomes more or less standard practice within the country.
Though many people are questioning what is going on within the moral and ethical standards of those who are leading the country now, as we question their conduct, very few are doing anything about changing their own mores. Because you see, even though they may not like what they see going on, they themselves are to some extent caught up in the sweep of the changes, and are far more tolerant of the conduct of these people that 40 or 50 years ago would never have been accepted.
We have an example that has occurred just within the last 5, 7, 8 years in the church of God in our former spiritual association. As we see change after change instituted within that organization, and brethren pray tell, what are the people in that organization doing? They are gradually changing right along with the changes that have been made by that administration.
That does not bode well for the United States of America. And though people may question what is going on, they may make cynical comments regarding the leadership, even within the church, very few are doing anything about changing themselves.
Now, Adam and Eve's experience of rearing two very different children points out that each of these two children had a very different perspective on what their responsibility was. I think it is pretty clear from the way that is given in the Bible and in Genesis 4, that Abel felt—he had a very strong feeling—a sense of responsibility toward God, where it is very clear that Cain, reared in the same household, felt a responsibility to no one except himself.
Maybe that statement is a little bit strong. He felt somewhat of a responsibility toward God, but he felt a greater sense of responsibility to himself.
I think that example given here in Genesis 4 points out a major, major objective in child rearing; that is, it becomes the responsibility of parents to try to instill within their children a very deep and abiding sense of responsibility toward God. It may go a long way toward making them good citizens of the nation, good members of the family, and very good fertile soil for God to work in whenever he opens their minds and begins to convert them.
Remember: Train up a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Unfortunately, we do not all train up a child in the way that he should go. We have varying degrees of success in it. That is to be expected, and this is not in any way intended to be a put down. It is just a fact that God tells us, and it is an ideal that we are to strive to live up to. That is a responsibility that is given to every one of us.
Turn to Philippians 3.
Philippians 3:17-19 Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things.
Are these people going the way of Cain? Well, yes. Where is their sense of responsibility? Well, it is earthly. It is more weighted toward themselves than it is toward God. So they feel a sense of responsibility, but it is going in a direction that is different from the sense of responsibility that God wants us to have, because Paul gives the contrast in verse 20:
Let us get a little bit of background on this verse by going back to Philippians 1.
Philippians 1:27 Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.
Now, connect that to the thought in Philippians 3:20, and contrast it to verse 19 for our citizenship, for our commonwealth, for our homeland. A number of translators translate that word, citizenship.
Well, the background is understood best if you understand a little bit about Philippi. Philippi had the status in the Roman Empire of being a Roman colony. This was not a status that was conferred on anybody who wanted it, but was something, though, that was given by the government in Rome to places that they felt were of strategic importance to Rome. It was a status that they were envious or jealous for; it was something that they coveted, because it gave them a special status.
Now the interesting thing is the way that the citizens of a city that had the status of being a Roman colony reacted. Apparently whichever city was a Roman colony or had that status, they acted more or less uniformly. That is, they did everything within their power to copy things Roman. And so whatever dress fashion was extant at that time in Rome, they made sure that they copied them. They used Roman law to the nth degree. They used the Roman magisterial system as a form of government. They used even the Roman language, that is Latin, which became the language of the area. Very often, the native language was not Latin at all, but if a city achieved the status of being a Roman colony, then they wanted to speak Latin.
They did everything in their power to be more Roman than Rome, because it was a coveted status. Philippi was a city that had been given that status, probably because of its strategic military importance. It had been given that status by the government in Rome.
So here is the contrast.
These people that Paul is describing in verse 19 have set their mind on earthly things. They wanted to be Roman in every sense, and so they conformed themselves to the highest ideals of a citizen of Rome. They tried to rear their children to be Romans.
Now the contrast is to the brethren: That is not high enough. Let your conduct be as a citizen of the Kingdom of God!
Now this gives us a handle, then, on a major objective of our child rearing practices—the way that we govern our families—the principles by which we govern our family. It becomes our responsibility as parents to start our children toward the Kingdom of God; that even as we are preparing ourselves to be a member, whenever our change comes, of the Kingdom of God, we should also be preparing our children for that as well.
The word here that is translated commonwealth for citizenship is “polituma.” What Paul means is wherever our citizenship is, it is to be the focus of all our operations. Everything in our life is to be pointed toward where our citizenship is. Though we have a citizenship that might be in Canada, Australia, South Africa, or the United States or wherever it might be, and we can be proud of that citizenship, and we can do everything we can to live up to that, we nonetheless always have to understand that as far as God is concerned, and therefore the way we should be concerned, is that the real focus of our lives is always the Kingdom of God.
When push comes to shove and there is something different in the requirements of a citizen of an earthly kingdom as compared or contrasted to the requirements of a citizen of this heavenly Kingdom, the heavenly Kingdom always comes first. It has the highest priority.
The verb translated is, “for our citizenship is” is very intense. The emphasis is “right now.” Our citizenship is in heaven, and it indicates a withdrawal from all else to focus on preparation for the coming of Christ. That is the context.
Now, to love our children is to prepare them for life—to prepare them for human life, to be a citizen in the very first community, the family; then the larger community, which is the neighborhood; the next larger community, which is the city, town, or state in the nation. But above all, is for citizenship in the Kingdom of God.
We are their primary teachers in bringing them from knowing nothing to as much maturity as we can possibly give to them. That teaching involves both verbal and example.
Now, before we go any further, I need to define some terms.
First of all, citizen: a person owing allegiance to, and entitled to the services of a government. Citizenship means possessing the rights of a citizen; and its quality is measured by the individual’s response to the community’s government. The first community is the family.
Now what about the word government? Government is the form by which a community is managed. Another definition of government is the authoritative direction of a community.
Now we have all heard of governors. Every state has a governor. Some pieces of machinery have a governor. When I was first employed in the steel mill, we had steam operated blowing machines, they called them. They provided the blast for the blast furnaces. And these steam operated machines had a governor on them. A governor is a regulating device. In the case of the steam engines that provided the blast for the blast furnaces, what they did was if the machine got going too fast, the governor would shut it down, and only allow so much steam to drive the engine so that it could never run away. And so it is with the human being who is the governor of his state. He is to be a regulating force.
This is the kind of position that a parent or parents are in. They regulate. They are a regulating force within the family. It is not the children who regulate. It should be the parents who regulate.
Now we find regulations increasing in the United States as Americans give away their liberty. And we are slowly but surely (maybe I should say, rapidly), becoming slaves to the state as they make regulation after regulation, taking over our lives. But a governor is a regulating force or device.
The government is important because it is the basic subject of the Bible. Right in the beginning, Adam and Eve showed that they were not going to be subject to the government of God. From beginning to end, we find all the ramifications of what they and the rest of us have done in our rebellions—transgressions against the government of God—and what the conclusion of the whole matter is, when God re-establishes the Kingdom of God on earth, and God becomes, through Jesus Christ, the governor, the regulating force of life on earth.
Right now He is not in that position. But soon He will be, and we will be governors, kings (the Bible uses that term), “under Him,” and we will be the regulating force in areas that are apportioned to us. So it is very important that we learn principles of right regulation as they apply to management of the family; eventually management of cities.
As we are looking at this subject for the purpose of this sermon, we are concerned about government in the sense of managing or regulating the development of children. That is going to be the main illustration or form that we use.
We are asking in this sermon whether rulership or management is subject to analysis. In other words, can government be reduced to a formula like in chemistry?
The word analyze means the resolution of a whole into its parts. Now, when you analyze a mystery, you try to gather all the evidence. What you are doing is you are separating. As you analyze the mystery, you are separating the parts into a whole, and then you arrive at an answer by putting the parts all in the correct order. And then, if you analyze correctly, putting everything in the right order, then, Bingo! You have the answer to the mystery. That is kind of what we are doing here. Analysis is the determination of the presence and nature of the whole’s ingredients.
One more definition, and that is the word chemistry, because it fits into this sermon. Chemistry is the science that deals with the characteristics of elements, or simple substances, the changes that take place when they combine to form other substances, and the laws of their combination and behavior under various conditions.
Chemistry is precise. Government is not.
If we suppose (and this is an assumption) that the conditions within Adam and Eve’s family were virtually the same for both Cain and Abel, why did Cain turn out so differently from Abel?
Well, there were two different personalities. Does it not seem, then, that it might be that a parent has to use somewhat different approaches with each of their children? There is certainly that possibility. The same ingredients in the same proportions may not work for every child. It is the responsibility of the parent to study the child, is it not? And apply the principles or laws of government in the right way.
Now, do you think that you would treat a law abiding citizen in the same way as you would a murderer, a robber, a criminal, or somebody of deceitful mind? I do not think so.
A different application of the principles of government has to come to bear in these different situations, do they not? That is why I say there are times when it looks as though government is more art than it is science. And yet, there is an element of science in it, because, as I am going to show you, there are definite elements that are a part of all proper governance, whether in the family or in the state.
Chemistry is precise, but government is not. So, it seems that if you are beginning to think about this, at first glance it would not be possible to resolve government into its first elements and then determine the presence in nature of its ingredients. And though government will never be as precise as chemistry, there is understanding in attempting to analyze and break it into its various parts.
Now most things yield to analysis, and when we begin to look into the things that at first seemed to be very complicated, you begin to find that they can be broken down into very simple parts.
The first example that I want to give you is a book. Consider the Bible. Any book can be reduced, first of all, into chapters. They can be reduced into subsections, into paragraphs, into sentences, into individual words, then down into letters—A, B, C, D, E, and so forth.
No matter how complex a book is, it is actually made up of some of the most simple things that we know of: the parts of the alphabet.
Now God has simplified…Well, I think that we would all admit, it is a gigantic and complex field of relationships between men and God, and between men and men, and He has broken it down into Ten Commandments. He has further broken it down into the two great commandments, and further broken down into one word—love.
Now, symphony music—you see 110 musicians up on a stage. They all seem to be working in unison following the direction of the conductor. And we hear this melody coming out there, and it sounds so great, and it seems so complex—all the arrangements of the parts.
But do you know what? All of that music can be broken down into eight (or so) simple notes. (See if you do not agree with this.) It is knowing the simple parts well, and having the vision of what you want to accomplish with them, that makes possible the conversion of the simple into the complex, whether it is beautiful music, or whether it is a book, or whether it is a relationship, or as I am proposing in this sermon, childrearing—government.
It is an understanding of the simple that makes possible the complex. Why cannot government be analyzed? Why can it not be arranged into a few elementary parts, and those parts arranged into a few possible compounds? Well, it can. And that is what we are going to do today.
Now, regardless of the seeming complexity of government, we find that there are only three main elements and four compounds we are going to be looking into.
I have broken these down into these three: (1) The expectation, or the hope, of reward, (2) is the fear of disadvantage, and (3) is one that I call charisma.
Now, I am defining charisma as the qualities of an individual or institution that evoke voluntary allegiance, dedication, and loyalty of others.
Turn with me to Deuteronomy 28, and we are going to see that two of these are principles that God uses in His governance of His creation.
Deuteronomy 28:1-13 "Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. [Now, what does God want? As the head of His Family, He wants diligent obedience to His government. So there is the stated objective.] And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the LORD your God: Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country. Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, the produce of your ground and the increase of your herds, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out. The LORD will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways. The LORD will command the blessing on you in your storehouses and in all to which you set your hand, and He will bless you in the land which the LORD your God is giving you. The LORD will establish you as a holy people to Himself, just as He has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the LORD your God and walk in His ways. Then all peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the LORD, and they shall be afraid of you. And the LORD will grant you plenty of goods, in the fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your ground, in the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers to give you. The LORD will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand. You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. And the LORD will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath, if you heed the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today, and are careful to observe them.”
Is that not very clear? God holds out the expectation of reward. That is a part, a very clear part of one of the elements of His child rearing practices. He is rearing us.
I think that we would have to admit that as He reared Jesus Christ, He did an awfully good job. He trained up His Son in the way that He should go. And when He was older, He never departed from it. God knows that holding out the carrots, giving a child the expectation, the hope of reward, is not wrong. It is a right principle.
Now the other side, the fear of disadvantage: verse 15,
Deuteronomy 28:15-20 "But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you: Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the country. Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Cursed shall be the fruit of your body and the produce of your land, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks. Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out. The LORD will send on you cursing, confusion, and rebuke in all that you set your hand to do, until you are destroyed and until you perish quickly, because of the wickedness of your doings in which you have forsaken Me.”
That is very clear. The fear of pain, of punishment, of disadvantage is very much a part of God's governing principles.
Turn to I John 4.
I John 4:19 We love Him because He first loved us.
Now, charisma is very difficult to define in just one verse. It has a collective quality to it, and so it is difficult to catch in one succinct verse. But would you say, from your understanding of charisma, that God has charisma? Is there something about Him that is magnetic, that is attracting, that evokes in you a voluntary cooperation? Is there something about His personality—everything that He is—that evokes in you a sense of awe that makes you want to submit?
There will be more about this later.
We need to note (getting back to thoughts about chemistry) that it is possible to achieve radically differing results or effects by the combinations, or by the separations of, only two elements.
A good example of this is water. All of us are aware, I think, that water is made up of two parts of hydrogen, and one part of oxygen? (H2O) Now, if they are separated into the elements hydrogen and oxygen, oxygen will support combustion. They start burning and oxygen, especially pure oxygen, is added to the flame, it will just burst and burn with a great deal of intensity. If hydrogen is by itself in any kind of amount, a mere spark will cause it to blow up like a bomb. It is highly flammable, extremely explosive.
But if you put hydrogen and oxygen together in the right combination, they produce water which puts fires out. Same elements, both of them support combustion. You put them together and it becomes water, which puts fire out.
I use that to illustrate the widely varying results that can be achieved depending on which elements are combined, and the proportion the elements are combined in.
Now government, like chemistry, has three elements, and, as I said, there are at least four combinations and three separations for seven all together, and the effects are equally differing as they are in chemistry.
Some of them, especially when they are single, are potentially, socially explosive.
(I am going to be speaking here in generalizations, so I do not want to mislead you and make you think that precise equations can be arrived at. We are talking here about generalities.)
Now, I shortened the terms to reward, fear, and charisma. First of all, we are going to examine them by themselves. And that is the three separations. Then we will combine several of them, producing four combinations so that will make seven approaches to government altogether.
We are using child rearing as the venue to show this because it is something that we are all fairly familiar with. And, it is the first and simplest form of governing we come into contact with. And it is the first community that we come into contact with as well.
Now we will find that all of them will produce a measure of desirable effects and qualities. Some will produce more bad, though, than they do good. Only one of them in right balance, produces the most and the best. The others are deficient, and in some cases, downright dangerous because they are injurious to the governed. And sometimes they are explosive to the governor, and will destroy the one that is supposedly doing the regulating.
First—the chemistry of reward.
If holding out the expectation of reward is used by itself, this is an attempt to get cooperation solely by playing on a child's or a person's desire to get. If we strip away the facade at its worst, it is nothing more than government by bribery, a nasty word here. Nonetheless, that is exactly what it is. It is government by bribery, and it has a very strong tendency to produce the shattered character of a spoiled brat. A child is rewarded to be quiet, to go to bed, to get up, to go to school, to do his homework, to take out the garbage, to cut the lawn. He is bribed into a reluctant cooperation. Now given a decade of this, by the onset of puberty, the policy begins to turn against those who are doing the ruling.
Bribery is a gift that is given in order to get something else. In the case that we are talking about, it is a bribe given to get cooperation.
In law and business, this is known as “quid pro quo.” It means something for something. A more common terminology would be, “You scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours.” “We'll take care of each other.”
But experience shows that in child rearing, it produces self-willed children who think that their value is far greater than is realistic. They are children who think they should not be denied anything. Let us go back to Ecclesiastes 7. Solomon makes a succinct observation here:
Ecclesiastes 7:7 Surely oppression destroys a wise man's reason, and a bribe debases the heart.
Bribery is destructive, it destroys the heart. In the context here, Solomon is saying that a bribe blinds a person to the morality or the realistic value of himself, or the act he is being bribed into. It perverts a person's judgment, setting him up for other forms of corruption. We will see this reinforced as we go to a couple of more verses.
Deuteronomy 16:19 You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous.
A bribe blinds the eyes. The eyes are the means by which we see things. A bribe blinds a person's perception. And of course, judgment is destroyed. So judgment becomes blurred because the bribe destroys discernment and perspective, and it actually moves a person toward becoming a slave of his desires.
Turn to Proverbs 29.
Proverbs 29:4 The king establishes the land by justice . . .
Put yourself in the position of a king, a governor, or of one who regulates; he establishes the community—the family—and makes it strong by justice. Now we can say in simple terms that justice is being fair—evenhanded.
Proverbs 29:4 . . . but he who receives bribes overthrows it.
Think about the ramifications of that within a family! A child reared in which the expectation of reward is so powerfully, and overwhelmingly used, what are you producing? A revolutionary who is going to destroy the family! It is going to destroy because the bribery gives him an unrealistic perspective of his own importance. After all, does not the world revolve around him? Are not the governors always giving him things? He must therefore deserve it. It is a “wonderful” way; an effective way to produce what I call the welfare mentality.
Now one more verse, turn to Exodus 23. A person receiving bribes does not know what fair is, and so he produces squabbling and division because others rightfully feel cheated and denied.
Exodus 23:8 And you shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds the discerning and perverts the words of the righteous.
If you want to make a child blind, then you regulate, you govern his behavior by bribing him. What do you do with your child? You make him into an extortionist. And in so doing, duty, responsibility, sacrifice, obligation, fairness in his relationships to and with others is destroyed, because the person receiving the bribes does not even discern what fairness or justice is. It destroys loyalty and attachment to a larger group, the family or the community, because the bribed one sees himself as the most important in all relationships. That one is bad news.
Okay, the second is equally bad, maybe even worse. This is the chemistry of fear. Fear is a strong emotion, and to govern by it is like sitting on top of a powder keg. It is rule by dictatorship. But the deceiving thing about it is that at first it seems to be successful. Everyone is subdued and respectful. There seems to be stability, but under the surface rebellion is simmering, and is ready to erupt at a weak spot whenever it gathers enough steam, because rule by fear hardens the ruled until they become desperate and explode. They gradually come to recognize that they can take anything that we dish out.
And it is so interesting that studies seem to indicate that people who are under that sort of system are the ones most likely to pass on that type of governance themselves. In other words, the beaten become the beaters. They become abusers themselves.
Now in I Kings we find ourselves at the beginning of Solomon’s reign. And we find it recorded how he consolidated his reign by eliminating with a heavy hand any power who seemed to be against him. First it was Adonijah, then afterward it was Abiathar.
In the case of Adonijah, he was executed. But, Abiathar, who had been high priest under David, was not executed, but was exiled. After Abiathar, came Joab. He was executed. Then we find Shimei, who cursed David. Solomon was a bit restrained with Shimei, gave him orders, and he eventually disobeyed those orders, and then he was dead in a moment.
If you read further in the reign of Solomon, you will find that he gives the appearance of being a well-organized man, that much was accomplished under him, but under the surface, there was war brewing. And so we find in I Kings 11,
I Kings 11:26 Then Solomon's servant, Jeroboam the son of Nebat, an Ephraimite from Zereda, whose mother's name was Zeruah, a widow, also rebelled against the king.
The story begins there of how Israel came to be separate from Judah. It actually began under Solomon, but it did not become an accomplished fact until the reign of Rehoboam. We find that explained in chapter 12, and the end of the rebellion takes place there. We need to ask the question: Even though Solomon's reign appears to have been very stable, if things appear to have been going so well, why did this rebellion take place?
Chapter 12 tells you that the rebellion took place because of Solomon's heavy handedness. The very thing that allowed him to establish his rule and give the appearance of stability actually exploded later into the secession of Judah and Benjamin from Israel so that the 10 tribes were in one nation, and the two tribes were in the other; a family divided. The major cause was governance by fear.
Ephesians 6:4 says to the fathers, “Don't provoke your children to wrath.” It is the chemistry of fear. Governance by fear is the most volatile of all forms of governments—the most volatile of all single ingredient methods. So you can label this one, “Highly Explosive.”
The chemistry of charisma. Charisma is a gift. That is what it means. It is something endowed or imparted, and the connotation is that what is given is attractive and useful to the recipient. Gifts can be used in a good or bad way, and when charisma is used in a bad way to manage or govern, it becomes government by manipulation based upon attraction.
Webster's defines charisma as a special magnetic charm or appeal; a personal magic of leadership arousing loyalty, or enthusiasm for a public figure. A person with this quality combined with human nature tend to use their gift to control by attraction and then selfishly exploit. It is the stock and trade of attractive people with huge egos—the hero, or the jock who takes advantage of all the groupies. Now they tend to use people until their usefulness is gone.
These people tend to be ruthless and aggressive in the pursuit of their personal ambitions.
Now a man may use his reputation for his financial power. This is the way of the harlot, be they institutions or individuals; they have prostituted themselves to their gifts.
This is the theme of Proverbs 5, 6, and 7. It is very clearly shown. We are going to leap through them. Remember this is charisma in a bad sense.
Proverbs 5:3 For the lips of an immoral woman drip honey [that is attractive], and her mouth is smoother than oil [it allures]; but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword.
We could go on. There is much to say about this. But, let us go on to Proverbs 6. A contrast is given between verses 20 and the end of the chapter.
Proverbs 6:23-26 For the commandment is a lamp, and the law a light; reproofs of instruction are the way of life, to keep you from the evil woman, from the flattering tongue of a seductress. Do not lust after her beauty in your heart, nor let her allure you with her eyelids. For by means of a harlot a man is reduced to a crust of bread; . . .
This is cause and effect. The harlot is using her magnetism—her charisma, her gifts. The man is seduced; the effect is bad.
Proverbs 6:26 . . . and an adulteress will prey upon his precious life.
Proverbs 7:10 And there a woman met him, with the attire of a harlot, and a crafty heart.
Proverbs 7:21 With her enticing speech she caused him to yield, with her flattering lips she seduced him.
He went after her. And he got caught.
People with magnetism, to the governed, are compelling, alluring, attractive, seductive, deceitful, and cruel at heart, because attention is riveted on the wrong things; a person’s perspective is lost, and they become ensnared.
Revelation 17 gives a spiritual example of this. That is the Great Whore, and all the attractiveness of that institution. But what happens when people wake up, and realize that they have been exploited? They turn and rend the exploiter.
What ramifications does that have in a family? The fruits of the abuse of gifts is painful. It is like being led down the primrose path; it is full of promise, but the delivery never comes. It is so interesting that God shows in Isaiah 53 that His Son—God in the flesh—had no physical beauty about Him that men should desire Him. Very interesting.
Yet, on the other hand, there is no one with any more charisma than God; He handles it with the greatest of care, because He understands better than anybody the power of its influence over people’s lives. This is very important to you and me.
In Exodus 21, there is stated a law of God that is very important to understand.
Exodus 21:15 "And he who strikes his father or his mother shall surely be put to death.”
Exodus 21:17 "And he who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death.”
Why such a drastic penalty for something that might seem so small by comparison? It is because of whom a parent is, and what he represents in the eyes of a child. In the physical situation that God set up within the family, the parents stand in the place of God Himself in that child’s life. There is no one who has more compelling attractiveness than a parent. And, if it is not handled properly, it can be extremely devastating, if the parent does not understand the persuasive power of his office as governor of the family.
Your magnetism—your charisma—in the eyes of a child is awesome!
It is our responsibility to use this gift in a positive way to attract them so we can lead them in the right way without exploiting them.
Now, we are going to combine charisma and fear. You will see as we combine the elements, the potential for better government increases. In the political realm, this one is government by monarchy. It has the potential to be a very good one, but it depends upon whose hand it is in.
A pretty clear example of this would be Britain. Generally, people are attracted by the Crown. There is charisma there, a compelling attraction about the Crown. These affections tend to build loyalty. There is all the pomp and heraldry of power. And this evokes strong emotional feelings toward them.
Now government also has the power in a monarchy. Now, Britain is not a monarchy anymore. It is still there, but it is now a parliamentary one. But, the government under a monarchy can intervene with a strong hand, and quickly punish the transgressors. And, this in turn, creates a fear of disadvantage, of fear to offend.
And so, the two of them together—charisma and fear—tend to produce an enduring and stable society. However, it also has its shortcomings.
Turn to I Samuel 8. If you will remember your chapters, this is where Israel wanted a king. This displeased Samuel (verse 5), but God told Samuel that they were not rejecting him, but rejecting God. So then, He told Samuel to protest to the people what living under a king was going to be like. And so we find:
I Samuel 8:10-17 Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who asked him for a king. And he said, "This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots. He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties, will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers. And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants. He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and servants. And he will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest young men, and your donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take a tenth of your sheep. And you will be his servants.”
That is far enough to state the principle. There is little or no expectation of reward to the governed. The standard of living is systematically reduced as wealth becomes concentrated in the hands of a few, as rulers steal away the wealth of the people, and create a vast servant class.
Eventually, it produces a mass exodus for greener pastures.
In a family situation, you can check Proverbs 13:12, the children frequently flee such a situation by running away; they feel a combination of fear and oppression, unloved, and used. They will frequently say that they love their parents (there is a charisma, there), but there is no reason for them to stay because of the combination of the feeling of being used, and the fear of things never changing; it is too great to get out of their minds. Hope deferred makes the heart sick. That is the downside.
So, this is a mode of rule that in a family situation expects loyalty and obedience simply because the ruler is there.
Now, the chemistry of reward and fear.
On the world scene is the American system; its democratic republicanism, with a capitalist policy of business; who hold out hope of unlimited reward for hard work; the main fear being demotion, or financial loss. There is a great deal of incentive in this system, because it plays on human nature’s lusts. But it tends to produce wealth, while producing something else that is not very good.
Deuteronomy 8:10-14 “When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land which He has given you. Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today, lest—when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them; and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.” [And so forth, and on it goes.]
God warns through Moses, that uncontrolled materialism will erode away spiritual values by actually elevating the individual’s importance in his own eyes.
From this we learn a lesson that is applicable to the family. Israel and Judah both fell during periods of great prosperity, but with little loyalty or allegiance to the One providing the prosperity—God. This loyalty erodes, because the system tends to promote a grasping, self-interest while at the same time producing a fearful resentment that one has not more, and the fear that one might not get more.
It is interesting that in Deuteronomy 32, God also warned that when Jeshurun (verse 15) became fat and wealthy, that is when he would rebel.
Proverbs 30:7-9 Two things I request of You (Deprive me not before I die): Remove falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches—feed me with the food allotted to me; lest I be full and deny You, and say, "Who is the LORD?" or lest I be poor and steal, and profane the name of my God.
Few people can handle the rewards of success. And when acquisition for the self, and protection for the self, reigns supreme, then spiritual values and legal standards are shattered, and justice and fairness become almost impossible.
Now, in a family with material prosperity, where the rewards of accomplishment are glorified along with fear of being lowly esteemed, it tends to produce a family in which each does too much separately. Everybody goes their own way. The family ties are severed, because everybody has the wherewithal to go their own way. Deep loyalties are shattered.
The chemistry of charisma and rewards. This is a type of relationship that David had with his sons. He loved his children very much. David was an emotional man. But yet, discipline of his children, over so many wives that he had, seemed to be lacking.
Turn to I Chronicles 18.
I Chronicles 18:17 Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the Cherethites and the Pelethites; and David's sons were chief ministers at the king's side.
For David’s children, there was undoubtedly the magnetism of his charisma, and I am sure that he was a charismatic father. And at the same time, there was plenty of opportunity for reward, but there was also a fly in the ointment.
I Kings 1:5-6 Then Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, "I will be king"; and he prepared for himself chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him. (And his father had not rebuked him at any time by saying, "Why have you done so?" He was also very good-looking. His mother had borne him after Absalom.)
There was no fear of punishment; no fear of ever being called into account. Had David been so engrossed in public affairs that he neglected his family, neglected to feed his son in an area that was so very much needed? Was he too doting without discipline? Whatever it was, he failed to fit Adonijah into his role in life.
If you will begin to follow the story through II Samuel 13-18, you will find a series of events that began with Adonijah reaching out and taking something that he had no right to do—his own sister. I mean, taking her sexually. He could have had her for a wife, which is very clearly established. But he did not want that. So, he defiled Tamar, Absalom’s sister. So, Absalom killed Adonijah two years later. Absalom then goes into exile. Absalom then returns, and rebels against David, defiles David’s wives in the sight of all Israel, and then is killed by Joab.
David’s family was a mess.
It is so interesting that the same traits in David that Adonijah and Absalom seemed to hate, evoked the opposite effect in more stable minds. While Adonijah and Absalom regarded David lightly, other men risked their lives to bring David a cup of water. But those men also felt the sting of David’s military discipline.
Now this way of charisma and reward has many good attributes. But rebellion is tempting minds that have not felt the sting of a proper punishment. There is no fear of being put at a disadvantage.
Now the only one that works properly is the chemistry of charisma, reward, and fear.
Proverbs 3:11-12 My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor detest His correction; for whom the LORD loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights.
You can also write down Proverbs 13:24, and Job 15:17-18. Here we are learning from God. With God, a person is not continually terrified, but yet, fear of disadvantage, fear of being put in pain by God, usually arises in a person’s mind when they know that they have transgressed.
God's purpose in inflicting pain is to bring about a change. Pain, and the fear of pain, if they are not overdone, is beneficial because they accomplish change.
With God we tend to think of pain as a punishment for sin. It may be. But that is never the end of the matter. It is purpose is to produce wisdom, to correct, and to heal. God does not want us to resent His chastening, but rather to look for profit within it.
Revelation 11:18 The nations were angry, and your wrath has come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints, and those who fear Your name, small and great, and should destroy those who destroy the earth."
He says that it is time to give reward to His servants, the saints. The Bible is clear that righteousness pays, and it should be rewarded. This principle applies to both physical and spiritual realms. But God does not have a pie in the sky approach by offering nor giving unlimited rewards. Usually what He does is, He gives just enough to the great overwhelming majority of us. In His Word, He does not oversell reward so that there is cause to anticipate it, but yet not so much as to cause one to continually think about it. So, it is good to give a person a hope of reward—that loyalty and obedience will be rewarded.
Now let me warn you, judging by what God shows us in the Bible, these two—the hope of reward, and the fear of punishment—are like sugar and spice. They are to be used together very judiciously. A little bit goes a long way.
The most important governmental element over the long haul is charisma.
Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Proverbs 9:10 "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
Proverbs 8:13 The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate.
Charisma, if we can reduce it down to just one simple phrase, is what the Bible calls, “The fear of the Lord.” It is a deep and abiding respect tinged with a small amount of fright in the governed, and this fear is something that flows from the totality of the governor’s personality. The source is in the governor. That is where the charisma lies.
If you apply this to the family, you are the one in the family, parents, who have the charisma. The charisma flows from you. It is something that God instills in you. He has instilled it in you so that you are to your child as God, so that you can lead them. And, He expects us to use it in the right way. It flows from the example of love, humor, self-control, intelligence, common sense, balance, affection, attitudes, and so on.
It is this that evokes in a person a willingness to be governed. We see what God is! And, because we understand what He is, we become willing to submit to Him. It inspires and encourages loyalty, allegiance, submission for all the right reasons. People respond to it. So do animals. Even plants seem to do this. You have heard of people who love plants, and they respond.
Do you know why? It is a law of the universe.
Do you know what caused your conversion? And secured your willing mission that you would grow? It is what God is. By His Holy Spirit, He impacted on our minds a view, “Do you see God?” The more you see of Him, the more you understand of Him, the more willing you are going to be to voluntarily submit to Him. What you see is His goodness, His power, His kindness, His generosity, and His wonderful purpose—all those wonderful qualities, and they have a powerful impact on you. Do you understand what I am driving at here?
What are we showing our children? What do they get from our attitudes? What do they get from the inflection in our voice? The look in our eyes? What do they see?
This is what parents are responsible to try to duplicate, because it has impact on children, in a measure, to the way that we live our lives. It springs from our example whether we are aware of it or not. It is somewhat frightening to realize that we are unconsciously influencing the path of our children.
Therefore, we should make efforts to consciously follow God, and then our charisma has a far better chance of imparting to our children a deep and abiding respect and responsibility for God in them.
Charisma develops because of our submission to God because we see God. And then, like sugar and spice, it brings the hope of reward, and the fear of disadvantage. These three combined through the art and science of a parent will help you to train your children in the way that they should go.