Thought for the weekend
Rev Gareth Burke Stranmillis Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Belfast
You will have probably noticed that a general election is approaching. Everywhere we go prospective candidates are looking down at us with beaming smiles and a request that we vote for them.
On TV news bulletins, in newspapers and in numerous other ways we are bombarded by information about the election.
So, what does the Bible have to say about the election? It would be difficult to find a chapter or verse that gives us direct guidance as to whether we should vote for Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn or Jo Swinson, but certainly there are some principles in Scripture that are relevant to us at this time.
Take 1 Samuel 16. Samuel, the prophet, is instructed by the Lord to choose a new king for Israel.
He is instructed to visit the family of Jesse in Bethlehem and is told that among Jesse's sons he will find the next ruler.
On arriving at Jesse's house he meets Eliab who looks well and appears to be very suitable kingly material.
However, Samuel is promptly told by God that he's on the wrong track. His focus is too outward.
He's preoccupied with what the man looks like on the outside. What about his character, his principles, his attitudes? These are the things that matter.
Samuel is told "man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart".
Eventually, Samuel chooses David, the youngest of Jesse's sons. Outwardly, he may not be the most impressive but God sees his heart.
Here is a young man who is trusting in the Lord. He has faith in God. The inclination of his heart is towards God.
So, when we come to choose our MPs on December 12 we should be thinking not so much about their appearance, or their patter but about their hearts.
What kind of people are they? What about their inner attitudes and motivations? Ultimately, what really matters for all of us, not just for our politicians, is whether or not our heart is in tune with God.
Do we love Him and His Son, Jesus Christ? Have we hearts that are devoted to God?
Remember "man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at thes heart" (1 Samuel 16:7).