RIGHTEOUSNESS EXALTETH A NATION: BUT SIN IS A REPROACH TO ANY PEOPLE (Prov.14:34)
n every of my effort aimed at eradicating poverty in the land and achieving a great, prosperous Nigeria, one verse of the Bible constantly recurs. It is the watch and keyword of my campaign for a prosperous Nigeria.
Anyone who has been following me in the last six and half years that I started this campaign, should be able to quote it off head.
This verse is found in the book of Proverbs chapter 14 vs 34. It states "Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people"
It was said by the man acclaimed to be the wisest man that ever lived, Solomon. And he was not just an ordinary man but a king, a wealthy king for that matter.
And when a wise man talks, it is either you take it and be blessed and prosper or neglect it and perish.
What does king Solomon mean by saying that righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people?
So today, I will be expounding that verse, which has become the watch and keyword of my campaign for a prosperous Nigeria and citizens of Nigeria in general.
But we shall first commit this hour into God's hands as Dr. Dn. Kayode Samuel leads us.
Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people (Prov.14:34).
What does the king, Solomon mean when he said the statement: "Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people (Prov.14:34)"
What was the King's experience?
Let us ask first, 'What does it mean for a nation to be exalted?'
The Oxford Dictionary defines it as "to hold in very high regard; think or speak very highly of"
So, what makes a nation to be held in high regard? What dignifies a nation or what makes a nation a winner or great?
A nation is held in high regard or exalted when all her citizens are happy and contended to live within the border of their country, without subjecting themselves to indignity of taking refuge in other countries where they think they can make a living, when the father is able to provide food sufficient for the mouths of his family.
A nation is dignified when all that makes the citizens happy are functioning well; there is electricity, there is water, there are good roads and affordable health services, when all that makes the continuity of the existence of the nation function well, when the nation has no fear for the happiness of their future generation, when there is no fear of how their coming generation will survive.
A nation commands regard when the government is responsible and cares for the needs of his citizens.
A nation is great when there is employment for every citizen.
A nation is exalted when the government provides the functional infrastructures, on which individual businesses can thrive.
A nation is a winner when her youths are employed and are able to live within the confine of its boundaries, without seeking economic asylum overseas.
A nation is held in high regards in the comity of nation when her economy is strong.
A nation is great when she is not at war within the different tribes, when the nation is not in danger of extinction. A nation is great when all the religions are at peace with one another, when no one religion tries to dominate or lord it over the others or denies the people of other religions their rights to live and their rights to be gainfully employed or their rights to admission to schools when qualified.
When all these happen to a country, the outside world respects and fears her. She is reckoned with in the comity of nations.
Now, let me ask, with all these definitions of an exalted or a great nation, is Nigeria exalted, prosperous or great or a winner? Does she command the respect of the outside world? Can she command any high regard?
The answer without the wink of the eyes with the present situation is a resounding "No"
But does Nigeria have enough resources to meet all my definitions of an exalted nation? The answer is a resounding 'Yes"
But anyone of my age will remember that Nigeria and Nigerians once commanded the respect of the outside world. The outside world had respect for Nigeria up to the very early 80's.
Then why is Nigeria no longer exalted? Why is Nigeria no longer great? Why is she unable to give happiness to her citizens? Why has she become an object of scorn in the comity of nations as the years passed?
But can there be any Nigerian adult, educated or uneducated who today will pretend not to know why Nigeria cannot be said to be exalted again?
Even if there is someone who did not know in the past, President Buhari with the help of Ibrahim Magu has exposed it all with the discoveries of all the massive looting of the commonwealth by the recent past rulers and those who occupy positions, which are meant to make citizens happy. Things, which were not so or heard of in the time I spoke about, when Nigeria had a high regard in the comity of nations.
Those were the years when the development of the nation was at the uppermost minds of those who governed the country.
There were no mismanagement of government funds. Government money was sacred to them.
Education of the youths was uppermost in their hearts. They provided a comfortable atmosphere of study for the youths by offering them all kinds of scholarships both in the country and overseas in the hope that they will in future use their different trainings to further advance the development and progress of the nation.
Jobs were waiting for them soon as they graduated, so, the thought of staying back in those cold overseas countries after graduation was not there.
So the comity of nations had no choice than to respect us. The comity of nations referred to us as 'A Developing Country'
But what happens today, Nigerians with PH.Ds are scattered all over the world with caps in their hands begging for the jobs of slaves.
The ones who remain at home take all kinds of risk to check out with thousands dying in the desert and in the seas. They are slaughtered like goats and chickens in some of the countries where they ran to.
Is King Solomon not proved right then when he said "Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people"
How do we describe a nation where citizens have no electricity for days, a situation when factories shut down for days, because there is no electricity to power the machineries, where welders and all, whose vocations depend on the use of electricity sit idly for days, without power to operate? How do we describe a nation, which her industries do not have electricity to power their machineries, thereby fold up or relocate to nighbouring countries?
How do we describe a nation where the majority of the citizens have no potable water to drink, where they do not have toilets in their homes and where there are, they do not have water to run them?
How do we describe a situation where citizens defecate in the open and dump their refuse on the streets or in the gutter?
How do we describe a nation, which rather than employ her graduate youths, the graduates return home to be fed by the parents who struggled to educate them, shattering their hope of a better life after the children graduated?
How do we describe a nation where the ones in employment are constantly retrenched while those that remain cannot be paid their wages as of when due?
How do we describe a nation, which Schools and Health Institutions are in dilapidation, where the standard of education has collapsed, where many people are dying cheaply on daily basis from illnesses that require a meager amount of money to purchase the necessary medications, but they do not have the money?
How do we describe a nation where the youths are fleeing the country in mass, taking the dangerous routes of escape to Europe, with many dying on the way, without reaching their intended destination?
How do we describe a nation where the law enforcement agents rob citizens in broad day light? Where duping and extortion of one another takes place every minute?
What one word is most adequate to describe what these behaviour bring on a nation 'Reproach'
And can there be any Nigerian adult, educated or uneducated who today will pretend not know why all these are so?
Even if there is someone who did not know in the past, President Buhari with the help of Ibrahim Magu has exposed it all with the discoveries of all the massive looting of the commonwealth by the recent past rulers and even among the present rulers, those who occupy positions, which are meant to make citizens happy.
How else can King Solomon be correct when he said that 'Sin is a reproach of the nation?'
I have defined what exalts a nation, what gives respect to a nation, what makes a nation great or how a nation can be said to be prosperous. Nigeria lacks all the qualities at this point in time, unfortunately.
I have identified the cause. It is unrighteousness.
I have also described what a reproached nation looks like. I have identified what leads to it. It is sin.
So King Solomon is absolutely correct when he said "Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people" (Prov.14:34).
Let me re state all these in different words.
What do we lack then in the definition of the wise sage, king Solomon, why our nation is not great or exalted? Righteousness!
And what word describes our situation? Reproach!
And from the definition of the old wise sage, king Solomon, what is responsible for the reproach? Sin!
Hear the wise king Solomon again "Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people"
We are not great or exalted because we lack righteousness. We are in reproach because we are sinful. Terribly sinful.
Someone asks, are you saying that Nigerians are worse sinners than the citizens of the United States, United Kingdom and other nations of the world, which nations are exalted, where we all want to live?
Not necessarily but righteousness is forced on them. The fear of appropriate punishments to be meted for every offences committed by whoever he may be, keep them upright to a measure, therefore, looting of their commonwealth by their leaders or whoever, is virtually absent, a behavior, which destroys us in Nigeria.
So we say that their law works because no one is above their laws. Their laws are no respecter of any person. Even if it is their President that commits an offence, he cannot escape his punishment. He will receive whatever punishments that goes with whatever offence he commits.
We all saw on the screen of our TV how a Saudi prince was given public whipping for certain offences he committed. President Clinton acted inappropriately with a young woman who worked in her office, he was quizzed, almost costing him his presidency. But did anyone even ask our Senator who was seen on social media caressing a play girl in his office? Was he questioned till today, talk less of punishing him.
That is where we have missed it.
We also have laws in Nigeria, but the laws catch only the weak and the lowly, while the powerful, the big offenders go about their normal business. So we say the law does not work and if the law does not work, what other options are open to us to make the country great, to exalt the nation?
If we carefully look into the plans of God for our prosperity, God promised in the book of Hebrews a new agreement with us "I will write my laws into their minds so that they will always know my will, and I will put my laws in their hearts so that they will want to obey them"(Hebrews 10: 16; 8:10)
As the case is now that no one accused of robbing the nation is convicted and they are escaping punishment, the only option open to us to get exalted is to stick to the original plan, which God puts in place for us which is righteous or godly living.
Not long after I started this campaign to having a proud country that many people told me that Rawling's method is our only solution. I had said and still hold the view that Rawlins's style is not our solution. It might have worked for Ghana but it will not work in Nigeria. It will only start Regional and Tribal rift which will have no end as one or more tribes will accuse whoever does it, as targeting them.
Will Court processes solve our poverty? I have always replied 'No' and I have been proved right or how many have been convicted of those that have been accused of stealing our wealth? Till the next 100 years, no one will be convicted.
Only a change of mind set will solve our myriads of problems; poverty, epileptic power supply, unemployment, none payment of salary, poor road, falling standard of education, kidnapping etc. A return to the godly path of our fathers alone is the solution.
The Bible says it clearly in 2 Cor. 6:3 that there is no solution in reeling out punishments for law breaking but the solution is in allowing God to control our hearts. It says that the letter kills but the spirit gives life meaning that the laws have no power to conquer man's lust for sins, only the Holy Spirit of God can.
And this is very true. Though people know that it is death should they be caught with hard drugs travelling to China and some other countries, yet they do it.
Therefore, a heart given to God; a change of mind set, love and care for one another is our solution.
And how can we make this to happen?
Paul said that faith comes by hearing the word of God (Rom.10:17).
He earlier asked "And how shall they hear without a preacher?"(Rom.10:14).
But we have millions of preachers in Nigeria on both sides of the isles. This statement has therefore indicted all the preachers in Nigeria, whether Christian preachers or Muslim preachers. The Bible has put the blame on us why the nation is yet to be great or exalted. God has indicted us for not drumming righteousness and Godliness into the ears of our different congregations. Had we, the citizens would have been righteous and the nation should have prospered.
The nation lost her prosperity when the Preachers diverted from the preachings of the fathers and started to preach heresies, when preachers started the gospel of materialism. These preachings drew the minds of the citizens away from kindness to the other fellow, and the desire to love others as one's self and do unto others as you will want it done unto you.
The preachings gave birth to greed, selfishness, extortion, accumulation of materials, fair or foul means.
It is very obvious that the prosperity of the nation depends on the spirituality of the citizens. What prosperity is there if only a handful of people are well fed, live in extreme affluence while the majority are hungry and die cheaply? A Yoruba adage says that a wealthy man among six who are poor are all poor.
Someone may say "I do not care for the nation once I am able to provide for myself and children" But he forgets that those who are poor can make life difficult for him?
Because it is not in every situation that the poor will receive additional punishment (je ajekun iya) (apology to the Senator turned song composer). And it is possible that before they receive additional punishment, (je ajekun iya) they have been successive to kidnap you or your relation and kill them or u.
In the beginning it was not so.
Is this not the same Nigeria where our fathers laid by the sides of the streets, whatever they intend to sell without staying by it?
Is it not the same Nigeria where once upon a time civil servants saw government money as sacrosanct, sacred, a holy thing, something untouchable?
Is this not the same Nigeria where once upon a time, every University undergraduate, study under one scholarship program or the other? Yet there was no oil revenue at the time. But with oil revenue, hunger and poverty pervades the environment.
How were these made possible? Righteous behavior of course by every citizen and we can return to that pattern of life, if those who are commissioned to turn the hearts of the people to the right will seek the face of God to understand the responsibilities placed on them.
The way our founding fathers built the nation was in line with God's plan of collective prosperity. They believed that our individual prosperity was in making the country prosperous and great by laying the necessary infrastructures whereby private businesses can thrive.
The founding fathers at the beginning made education as comfortable as it could be in the hope that after those ones are educated in various fields, they could plan on how to make the country better worth living and educate the ones behind them much easier even.
The founding fathers were righteous and faithful to the nation with the commonwealth. They did not divert the commonwealth for private use.
It was like this for sometimes until the most wicked Demon of Satan, 'Mammon' made Nigeria its headquarters and infiltrates the minds of one generation to jettison the original plan of making the nation great but became selfish and they started the milking of the nation until it became dry.
The money to educate those behind them is committed to personal use, roads became death traps. Rather than employing staff, they lay them off. Salaries of the few that remain at work cannot be paid. Hospitals are left in dilapidation.
Therefore, for a nation to be exalted, to be respected in the comity of nations, where the citizens must be kept happy, without running out of their country in order to make a living, where there is no fear for the future generation and which must not go into extinction, they must reject ungodliness, cheating of themselves, extortion, duping but uphold righteousness and not only by those in government but all citizens.
I pray that these my words will prosper everyone listening to me so that we shall all from today wage war against all unrighteousness in our lives so that poverty can flee from our land and our journey to heaven can be made easier.
<Sam Aweda, Pastor, Jesus for the World Revival Mission (Peoples' Church)