Monday, May 18, 2009

Cheating to Win

Several years ago, a high school basketball coach in Kansas cheated in a game by making an illegal substitution. One of his players was injured in the first half. At halftime, the coach made the switch. He asked the injured player's identical twin, who was not listed in the official scorebook, to put on his brother's uniform and pretend to be him. The twins looked so much alike that no one could tell the difference. The twin wore his brother's number and led the team to victory.

But the sweet taste of winning didn't last for long. The coach couldn't live with his guilty conscience. "After the game, my conscience bothered me," he said. "What I did wasn't right. I voluntarily turned myself in to the state."

What motivates people to cheat? Cheaters think they'll benefit by taking the dishonest route. Students cheat on tests. Adults cheat on income taxes. Philanderers cheat on their spouses. Athletes cheat by taking steroids. They don't realize that God is watching and won't allow them to enjoy what they get. "Bread obtained by falsehood is sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth will be filled with gravel." (Prov. 20:17). The Lord refuses to bless illegal methods and will replace the initial pleasure with misery.

Proverbs 11:1 says, "A false balance (cheating others) is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight (honesty) is His delight." Merchants in biblical times would cheat their customers by using two sets of weights when buying and selling. They placed lighter stones on their scales when they were selling and heavier stones when they were buying. In that way, they would make an illegal profit with every transaction. They forgot that God was watching them and placed a curse on their ill-gotten gains.

Instead of cheating, try a different approach. Why not simply do what is honest and trust God with the outcome? If we will seek to please the Lord, we'll do what's right--even if it means giving up the immediate profit. But don't forget the end of the story. God promises that He will more than make up the difference for you in eternity. And sometimes He'll even do it in the here and now.
Keep looking up!