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20. Corruption: its causes, costs, and combatting it, plus the Christian stand against it

My life (put) alongside God's word. National development issues section.

by Elisama Daniel

Please read and consider these Scriptures.

“Now let the fear of the Lord be upon you. Judge carefully, for with the Lord our God there is no injustice or partiality or bribery”, 2 Chronicles 19:7.

“The fool says in his heart, “There is no God”. They are

corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good. The Lord looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one”, Psalm 14:1-3, 53:1-3.

“Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips”, Proverbs 4:24.

“Extortion turns a wise man into a fool, and a bribe corrupts the heart”, Ecclesiastes 7:7.

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?”, Isaiah 58:6.

“They have sunk deep into corruption, as in the days of Gibeah. God will remember their wickedness and punish them for their sins”, Hosea 9:9, see Judges 19:1-21:25.

“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Listen! The Lord is calling to the city – and to fear your name is wisdom – “Heed the rod and the One who appointed it”. Am I still to forget, O wicked house, your ill-gotten treasures and the short ephah, which is accursed? Shall I acquit a man with dishonest scales, with a bag of false weights?”, Micah 6:8-11.

“Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’, and your ‘No’, ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one”, Matthew 5:37.

“But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount”. Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham””, Luke 19:8-9.

“All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone who had need”, Acts 2:44-45.

“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles

continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need”, Acts 4:32-35.

“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation”,

Philippians 2:15.

“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, Who richly provides

us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do

good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life”, 1 Timothy 6:17-19.

“To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who ar corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. They claim to

know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good”, Titus 1:15-16.

“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him Who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by its evil desires”,

2 Peter 1:4.


Corruption, simply defined as the abuse of authority, power or resources for private gain started since the fall of man after creation, as sin entered the world through Adam; and

politically, is as old as the history of government as stated by Aristotle in 350 BC in ‘The Politics’. Others define it as misuse of public power, office, or authority for the benefit of a few (clique or cronies); the World Bank defines it as ‘The abuse of power for personal gain or for the benefit of a group to which one owes allegiance’. Corrupt practices on the other hand refer to soliciting, accepting, obtaining, giving, promising or offering of a gratification by way of a bribe or other personal temptation or inducement, or the misuse of a public institution/authority or office to achieve private advantage or benefit to the person or others (South Sudan Anti-Corruption Commission).

Therefore, any action that causes or affects an object, organism or individual to be less or become less than its original form and weakens the ability to survive or to project itself into the future, just as sin fails us short of the glory of God is a form of corruption.

Generally speaking, Corruption is not primarily a problem of bad people, but of bad systems, but of course without God in your heart, it is inevitable.

There is also a worrying fact that it is not only the reported allegations of corruption in any country, rather the attitude, perceptions and behaviour toward corruption. There is a

growing feeling that corruption is being associated with the culture of reward and impunity and is almost becoming a norm in many post-conflict countries including South

Sudan. There is a great concern that the corrupt are getting away unpunished and seem to thrive and feel they are above the law.

The Church on its part seems to have its prophetic role diminished in shaping society. The Church is now viewed as having either joined in the throng and conformed to the

status quo or it has simply become a talking machine that does not even walk its talk when it comes to corruption. Consequently the same corruption taking place in society is

also happening within the Church and its institutions.

The Church of God in the Sudan, with its main base being South Sudan, had been the vital and formidable agent of transformation in the past. It is therefore imperative that it

takes up its pivotal role now, more than ever before, in transforming the society and nation by confronting the menace of corruption.

Types of corruption

Broadly, corruption is classified as grand, petty, systemic, active and passive corruption, depending on the intention or purpose of the classification. Other forms include

bribery, fraud, graft, embezzlement, extortion, conflict of interest, impersonation, nepotism and so on.

What drives officers to commit corrupt acts? Its causes

Greed and the desire to have more! Most corrupt people are not necessarily poor, but always want more. Moralblindness/the decay of social norms, a decayed conscience,

no fear of God, eroded business or professional ethics, weak systems and nonexistent controls in institutions do provide a favourable environment for corruption.

This is illustrated by the corruption equation shown:

Monopoly + Motive + Discretion/Opportunity – Accountability = Corruption.

There are three stages in the commission of corruption; namely pressure, opportunity and rationalisation, thus explained below:

1. Pressure

Pressure to supplement income due to living beyond means. Examples include:

  • Maintain expensive vehicles, like 4x4s

  • Extravagant lifestyles – holidays abroad, suave dressing, golf, private clubs etc.

  • Family pressure e.g. children in university education abroad, high class residence, among others

  • Extra marital affairs – require more funds to finance mistresses (men) or boyfriends (women)

  • Gambling and drug addiction.

2. Opportunity

Once the fraudster is financially stressed, he/she finds an opportunity to commit the crime through:

  • The segregation of duties and assignments being lacking, and the existence of control gaps and lapses

  • Access to physical cash or the payment processes

  • Trust and loyalty to the boss, hence no suspicion

  • Weak or non-existent internal controls

  • Weak approval systems or discretionary powers

  • Lack of operational or procedure manuals.

3. Rationalisation

  • Unauthorised borrowing – a loan which is supposed to be repaid

  • A commission or appreciation for doing his job well

  • Feeling undervalued and under-rewarded by the organisation

  • No promotion, no salary increment, hence no future prospects

  • Thinking of being unfairly treated and deserving of more money

  • Working for ‘a rogue organisation’, there to brobbed.

Some effects of corruption

Corruption affects both the individual and the nation:

  • Nationally: There will be poor economic performance of the national economy

  • Disregard for standards and pillars of integrity – everybody puts self-interest first

  • Withdrawal of international aid and lack of investments

  • Looting of public resources and capital flight

  • Conspicuous consumption and low purchasing power

  • At the personal level, there is loss of confidence in the public service to deliver, leading to death and degraded beings

  • Increased insecurity

  • Exorbitant prices for goods and services

  • General moral decay and increased illegal activities in society.

Benefits of curbing corruption

A corruption free society is the one that will experience peace and serenity for its entire people and is characterised by:

  •   Economic growth and a conducive business environment

  •   Poverty eradication and job creation

  •   Increase in domestic and foreign investments

  •   Improved social behaviour and moral standards

  •   Strict adherence to laws, rules, and codes of conduct and ethics

  •   Renewed confidence from development partners

  •   Effective, responsive, responsible, fair and efficient public services

  • More resources available to government for health care, infrastructure, education, security, etc.

  •  Increased revenue and a reduced crime rate.

How to combat corruption

  • It is about the fear of God and serving Him rather than men, Colossians 3:17,23

  • It is about changing organisational features that allow corruption to occur

  • It is about strengthening systems of control in organisations through better management systems and closer supervision

  • Declaration of assets and disclosure of Interest policies in place

  • Regular vetting of staff and rotations

  • Regulation of discretion and the establishment of internal controls

  • Follow the proper procurement procedures in the award of different types of contracts

  • Formal and informal monitoring of behaviour and activities

  • Rewarding outstanding integrity among staff

  • Transparent and proper recruitment procedures

  • Strengthen the probability of corruption detection and put preventive mechanisms in place

  • Create a disadvantage for the corrupt and protect highly vulnerable areas

  • Permit proper management and oversight, and facilitate independent audit

  • Develop gift and conflict of interest policies; supervisory accountability and internal complaint systems, to help in combating corruption.


The effects and consequences of corruption are unbearable for any church, society or nation, and will affect the progress and wellbeing of all people. That is why corruption must be prevented, confronted and fought, in order to bring about the holistic wellbeing of humanity as intended by the Creator, Genesis 1:31-2:1.

The Church, which is the body of Christians, is the one institution that undeniably has been, and still is, the agent of transformation on the face of the earth throughout

human history. It therefore cannot afford to stand by watching and letting things go. It should therefore, examine itself and get rid of corruption in order to play its leading

prophetic role of transforming society with Kingdom values.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”.

- Edmund Burke, Anglo-Irish statesman. (

Discussion questions

1. Why did our Lord Jesus say, “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’, and your ‘No’, ‘No’”?

What is He trying to encourage today? Matthew 5:37.

2. Give some examples you have seen of people who have fallen into the trap of, “the corruption in the world caused by its evil desires”, 2 Peter 1:4.

Suggest how people could have avoided falling into the trap?

3. Elisama writes, “Corruption is not primarily a problem of bad people, but of bad systems”.

Is this how you see it?


Why not?

4. What does “the fear of God” practically mean in your daily life?

See “How to combat corruption”, first bullet point.

5. How can the individual take a stand against corruption in society?

Give practical examples.

What price may have to be paid for being different to those around you?


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