Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 8:15
"By me kings reign, and rules decree justice"
Justice is the Hebrew word sedeq which came from a root word meaning to be straight. This word came to mean staying within moral boundaries and not crossing moral lines. This proverb marks a lesson our culture is forgetting at its own peril. Corruption will destroy a culture that has no idea of wisdom and justice. Corruption will reduce a culture to oppression where it is expected that leaders and officials will become wealthy and personally profit from their decisions.
There is a fundamental principle of justice that the person rendering justice must not gain personally by their decisions. If there is a possibility of personal gain through one of a leader’s or judge’s decisions, then the decision should be handed to someone who has no personal stake in the matter.
Solomon is stating a basic moral principle that governments must and organizations must live by or there will be not justice – only corruption. Realize that corruption is when a leader begins seeking personal profit first or significantly in their decisions. To be free from corruption, the leader must make decisions that are the best decisions for the company or the people, regardless of their impact on him/her personally. You cannot be just or fair if one side of the decision is laden with personal profit for you.
Solomon is calling on those who rule to realize that they must seek the wise decision. The win/win/win in which God wins, your people and your organization wins, and you win. It is wisdom that makes sure that God's win and others’ win is primary.
Solomon is trying to train us to be wise and recognize the temptation to corruption and foolishness. He wants us to embrace the wise decision even when we are being tempted by significant riches down a particular path. Remember that the fool’s path looks like a short-cut to all you want. The wise path, however, looks like work and/or builds relationships slowly.
Think about the opposite of what Solomon is describing – a government or company or organization in which the leader is a fool. They are out for themselves. The decisions that they make serve their own selfish purpose and are designed to enrich their personal situation in some way. Solomon is saying that if the leader does not understand wisdom and embrace it, then they will think that the impulses they feel will be the right thing to do and justice will never be accomplished. Fair and just decisions will be out of the question because there will be a desire for personal gain in every decision. That is the nature of selfishness.
In order to be a great leader, you have to be able to make decisions that may diminish your personal material wealth while promoting God's honor, your organization’s benefit, and your people's benefit. Without an ability to ignore the promptings of your own selfishness, this will be impossible. Let me hasten to add that while the decisions you make may be a loss for your personal profit, there will be a win in the decision for you although it may be emotional, mental, spiritual, or in some other arena other than financial.
Our culture has begun to embrace the idea that greed or personal profit at the expense of others is good. This is clearly wrongheaded. Personal profit that results from benefiting others is good but not seeking the personal profit as the primary goal itself. We must be trying to benefit others and in that way produce a growing amount of goods which we may share in. CEO's of companies are now taking huge bonus while their companies are being destroyed or taken over. Where is the benefit to the larger organization or society? Some leaders are specifically entering into deals, mergers, and alliances because of backroom deals that enrich themselves while they are bad for their respective companies and their employees. If we cannot trust our leaders to make decisions that are best for the company or society – even at a personal loss – then justice is not attainable. This is why wisdom is so crucial for leaders to possess.