"Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds those who see and twists the words of the innocent." Exodus 23:8 (NIV)
Every day we read about public officials that have betrayed the public trust and violate their oaths of office by participating in schemes that are immoral and illegal. It is reprehensible but understandable that it continues to happen. Men and women that begin their work with good intentions help so many others become successful. Politicians, pastors and community activists advocate for people that own small businesses, companies that need certain regulations and groups that seek access to opportunities. All of a sudden these people make it big because of the advocates' works - all while the very advocates whose efforts fueled their successes remain stuck in the same financial positions they were in all the while. It can be very frustrating.
And the advocates must maintain their social status and their positions of influence - and all of that costs money. It takes money to dress in a manner that is commensurate with one's leadership and social status. It takes money to attend the various events where presence is required to rub shoulders and mix with the right crowds. It takes money to run with the crowd that is the right crowd. It takes money to have a good time and "make it rain."
So when people offer money in return for certain favors, be they personal or political, it is hard to resist the offers because it is true that "it takes money to make money." And as one wise person said "money makes the world go 'round."
But the moral standard is this: Do not accept a bribe. A bribe is anything we accept to do something that violates our moral standards or legal obligations. Not only do we violate a moral principles when we accept a bribe but we abort our potential for greatness when we compromise our commitment to do what is right.
Moses received this word and shared it with his people after they had been slaves and while they were traveling in the wilderness. Bad conditions are never an excuse for low standards. Those of us who want to have our rights respected must force ourselves to be right in our conduct. Moral excellence is the ultimate defense against injustice.
"God, help me to always resist the temptation to refuse offers that will undermine my moral standards. Amen."