It has been stunning how the growing scandals within the Obama administration have multiplied and widened over the past few weeks. It’s true that second term presidencies are often tainted by scandal during the final four years. Think Ronald Reagan and Iran-Contra in the late eighties and Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky in the nineties.
But those scandals were relatively minor and confined to one area of either policy or personal conduct. In the case of the Obama scandals, they seem to be popping up everywhere in numerous area of foreign and domestic policy.
I was tempted to title this column “The Chickens Are Coming Home to Roost” (to use the infamous phrase of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright). But that would overlook the central truth of it all.
In all of our lives, character is destiny.
I’ve thought a lot about the subject of character over the past few decades because I came to realize many years ago that I needed a lot more of it in my own life.
This coming week I’ll be in Texas speaking at an Hispanic Discipleship School. One of the subjects that they asked me to share on is the development of godly character. I wrote a book on that subject in 1992 with a provocative title–If God Has A Plan for My Life, Why Can’t I Find It? You Have a Destiny. The book is a study in 2 Peter 1:2-11 where the apostle describes seven building blocks of good character:
- Moral Excellence or Virtue
Peter says that if we possess these qualities and they are growing in our lives, then we will be fruitful and successful both in this life and the next.
Good character produces a good destiny (and reputation).
There are many other character qualities mentioned in the Bible that emanate from the being of God Himself. In Galatians chapter five, Paul first lists a grouping of bad character traits: (5:19-21)
- sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness and orgies.
Then he turns around and gives the famous “fruit of Spirit” listing of great character attributes: (5:22,23)
- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
In the first list, a person chooses to develop bad character by not imitating the character of God but rather spiraling down into a self-centered world of narcissistic choices.
Paul’s second group is the opposite. A person recognizes their need for God in their life and invites the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to produce good character in them. They are being born again and cooperate with God’s amazing grace.
Good character is the totality of moral traits that we find in the Godhead. We human beings aren’t known for growing it in great abundance. It takes the invasion of God into our lives to soften and humble proud, selfish hearts and re-make them into the image of the Holy.
Character growth–being full of the Spirit of God–should be a supreme goal of our lives.
Paul follows up his teaching on character in Galatians 6:7, 8 where he soberly brings in the destiny part:
“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever you sow, you will reap. The one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”
This is the original context of the chickens coming home to roost comment. You reap what you sow. If you have good character then good consequences will ultimately come to you (though not always immediately). On the other hand, if you have bad character (i.e. do shady, selfish, or evil things) then bad consequences (though not always immediately) will be visited upon you.
And so we come to the Obama scandals. Some things have been “sown” in this present administration. For a time they were hidden or beneath the surface. But now they have come to light and the consequences are beginning to set in.
Many people on the street are still not aware that this small Libyan outpost was the scene of a brutal terrorist attack on September 11, 2012 when four brave Americans, including US Ambassador Christopher Stevens, were viciously murdered.
Why has half of America never heard of Benghazi? Because during the 2012 election, the mainstream media in America chose to not cover this story to quietly aid in President Obama’s re-election.
That’s bad enough, but the greater story is that, from the very beginning, the Administration did not choose the necessary character quality of honesty to report the tragic Libyan events. We now know that the White House and State department circulated a bogus story about the deaths being attributed to a spontaneous uprising or related to an anti-Muslim video.
Benghazi is now a burgeoning scandal, similar to Watergate, in that there was a failure of leadership coupled with an orchestrated cover-up to limit damage to the president. In Nixon’s case, documents were stolen. In Obama’s case, security was neglected and four people died.
Time and many hearings will tell how close this gets to the president himself. But there is no doubt that the administration is now reaping the results of a well choreographed lie.
Truth or honesty is vital in all of our lives. Don’t get too high and mighty pointing your fingers at Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. What about your own life? Any cover-ups, misstatements of the truth, or episodes of dishonesty? Do you always tell the truth or do you embellish it at times for personal gain?
We all have a Benghazi-type incident in our closet. The present administration needs to come clean on theirs. How about you?
Benghazi is the most lethal of the various scandals because it led to the death of four people. But the biggest scandal now being uncovered in Washington, D.C. is the monstrous perversion of the IRS to intimidate and harass faith-based and conservative movements in this country to silence their voice.
This took place through the non-profit division of the Internal Revenue Service where a different set of principles and tactics were used to suppress conservative voices over the past two years. I’m sure you’re aware of the story by now and it should send tingles up every American spine.
The IRS is the second largest and probably the most feared agency of the US government. It can destroy lives through both taking away our time and confiscating our resources.
The IRS must possess the character qualities of justice or fairness. It must treat all American equally with respect before the law.
To read just one example of IRS intimidation, click hear to hear Dr, James Dobson’s story.
The IRS scandal could bring down the present administration because the IRS touches the lives of nearly every American. If one group can be abused, so that another. That should trouble all of us.
But this scandal should also be a wake-up call of character for us individually. Do you treat all people and groups fairly, or do you carry a self-oriented bias? Are you fair with everybody or do you show favoritism to some?
Let’s clean up our act and be fair and just. Good things follow the sincere pursuit of justice.
The Associated Press and Fox News
The third major scandal swirling in Washington, D.C. involves the Justice Department collecting the phone records of hundreds of AP reporters supposedly to suppress the leakage of government secrets. But by nearly admission, the DOJ went way too far in snooping on reporters, and not focusing on the government leakers themselves.
In the case of James Rosen of Fox News, the Department obtained warrants for e-mails, phone records, and even monitored the phones of Rosen’s parents because they suspected Rosen of being a “possible co-conspirator” in violations of the Espionage Act. Even the Washington Post condemned this blatant abuse of the government spying on “its enemies.”
The bad character traits here are prejudice and concealment. The opposite good character trait is transparency–something that President Obama pledged his administration to when he first took office.
Again, all of us can relate. Got any secret sins that you’ve tried to conceal from others or a Holy God? While we’re rightly pointing the finger at some of our government officials, we’d better be pointing them simultaneously at ourselves.
A major reason for the current Obama scandals–and there appear to be more than the three mentioned here–is the cancerous growth of government beyond accountability and control. Lord Acton was right when he said that “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
Erick Erickson of Redstate puts it this way: “The more power any government has, the more power it will abuse. The more money it spends, the more money it will mis-spend. Dysfunction and corruption grow on government like mold on otherwise perfectly good bread. It has nothing to do with party or ideology – it has to do with human nature.”
The Obama Scandals are revealing character flaws within the Administration that will affect its future, its destiny. You reap what you sow. The chickens do come home to roost. Even if it is overlooked or suppressed in this life, it will be fully exposed in the next because the God of the Universe operates by perfect honesty, justice, fairness and transparency.
If the president wants a good personal and public legacy, then he needs to clean up the scandals surrounding him through the practice of godly character. Proverbs 28: 15, 17 tell us, “You can’t whitewash your sins and get by with it; you find mercy by admitting and leaving them.” And “Among leaders who lack insight, abuse abounds, but for one who hates corruption, the future is bright.”
If he tries to sweep them under the carpet or run out the clock on them, he may dodge a bullet temporarily, but not altogether.
1 Timothy 5:24 tells us, “The sins of some people are obvious, leading them to certain judgment. But there are others whose sins will not be revealed until later.”
Character is destiny. You can no more escape that truth than you can escape death itself.
So choose wisely to develop godly character. And choose leaders who will do the same.