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Character or Cause

It’s been a solid two weeks of turning on the news every night to one scandalous story after another. The finale came Thursday in a meeting on immigration when President Trump spoke his now infamous line about people from Africa coming from “s***hole countries”.

While we protest with shock and outrage that these lies and vulgarities are not part of the true fabric of our country, the truth is that they are. The reason that they are is because we have put causes over character.

Over 2,000 years ago a very similar situation was happening in Palestine. The leadership was demanding extreme burdens from the people so that the nation could be the most upright and Godly in the world --- which you’ll admit is not a bad cause. When Jesus came on the scene and saw what these leaders were doing he spoke to the common folks plainly, “Practice and obey whatever they tell you but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they preach.” (Matthew 23:3). Then he boldly looked the leaders in the face and said, “You hypocrites, blind guides, blind fools --- Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness!” (Matthew 23:28)

We the people have voted in representatives who have embraced certain causes. But have we been deceived into thinking that whatever way to that good cause is acceptable?

Once again, Jesus speaking in his time put his finger on the core issue. “A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad its fruit will be bad. Whatever is in your heart determines what you say. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart.” (Matthew 12:33-35)

We know that our president spoke disparaging comments about immigrants, women, Latinos, and black citizens even before he was elected. We saw the ruthless way that he built his real estate empire on the backs of hard working Americans – some of whom he never paid. We heard taped conversation of how he treated women and we looked past that because he was going to bring about certain good causes that would make us great again. We have turned a blind eye to his vulgar mouth, bullying tweets and outright lies on almost a daily basis.

We are expecting good fruit to come from a bad tree and it can’t happen. Character matters. It is far more important than voting solely based on issues. It’s true we will always be choosing from men and women who are less than perfect; nevertheless the leaders we choose should have the basics of honesty, integrity and a love for the people they hope to serve. Let us learn from this time in our history so that we will not repeat it.