To GIVE or ACCEPT any kind of BRIBE is a SIN
February 26 Bible Reading: Deuteronomy Chapters 16-18
"You shall appoint judges and officers in all your gates, which the Lord your God gives you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with just judgment. You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous. You shall follow what is altogether just, that you may live and inherit the land which the Lord your God is giving you." (Deut. 16:18-20)
The above passage is a clarion call for the appointment of judges and officials who will exercise impartial justice to the Israelite populace. By this time, Moses has just finished reminding the people of Israel of their religious obligations; and he now gives them the rules for civil order. Just as the Israelites were to manifest their spiritual character in their worship of God, so they were also to manifest their holiness by establishing proper civil authority.
In this connection, Moses commands the appointment of judges and other officials in every city (16:18-20; 17:2-7), then he establishes a higher judicial court for more difficult cases (17:8-13); after which he establishes the foundation for the future selection of a king (18:1–8), and finally establishes the criteria of confirming a prophet as a genuine spokesman of God (18:9–22). Thus, these passages exemplify the principle of authority implicit in the fifth commandment (“Honor your father and mother”) to include everyone who is in a position of authority.
In the jurisprudence of the ancient Near East, much responsibility was given to the judge. He did not simply compare an offense to a particular law and pronounce a verdict. Rather, he compared a case with the principles of the law along with typical cases and gave a decision in accordance with justice and equity (16:18; 17:8). Moses had appointed leaders to judge previously at Mount Sinai (1:13), and the above passage ratifies this matter. New judges and officers are now appointed to conduct themselves in the high ideals of justice alone (19:15–21). In doing so, they must recognize their limitations and exercise their offices in strict conformity to fairness and righteousness.
A system of justice is only as good as the people who administer it, as justice is the quality of dealing with people fairly. Judges particularly were expected to reflect God’s just nature (32:4) by not dealing with the accused on the basis of discrimination, false witness, or hearsay. In fact, judges must be honest, righteous, and impartial. The manner in which they can display their integrity is by not accepting a bribe. A bribe is any gift that might change the balance in favor of the giver. This actually tips the scales of justice and making a person incapable of judging fairly. This may be the reason why God made the following statement: "And you shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds the discerning and perverts the words of the righteous" (Exodus 23:8).
Let us never forget that to give or accept any kind of bribe is a sin! God’s word tells us that “a wicked man accepts a bribe behind the back to pervert the ways of justice" (Prov. 17:23). The truth of the matter is that bribery displays partiality, deprives others of justice, and is an offense against the character of God who shows no partiality nor ever takes a bribe (Deut. 10:17). Let us also take God’s commandment to the Israelites seriously, and never give/accept bribes, pervert justice or show partiality. Rather, we should reflect the supreme character of God by loving others, and that will ultimately display true justice to everyone.