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Points to Ponder/A Mouthful of Gravel

by Pastor Dennis Whitmore

“So, did you really think you could get away with it?”

That is a question I have often wanted to ask people who already have so much, and yet they step out of bounds of the law to cheat, lie, and steal. We see the big names in business falling, as these well paid executives are found to be people lacking integrity. What they had in wealth and privilege was not enough, (it never will be, if that’s what you live for) and so they yield to the temptation to reach for more... and more.

Proverbs 9:17-18 speaks a profound truth in light of our human tendency to lie, cheat, and steal (even if it’s “just a little”):

“Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant. But he does not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of hell.”

To put this in context, the entire Proverb presents a comparison of the Wisdom of God, (described as “she” who was with God before the creation; “from everlasting, from the beginning, before there ever was an earth” Proverbs 8:23) to the seductress, “the foolish woman” who calls to those who are simple and “lack understanding.” Among humans, adultery is the ultimate betrayal of trust, and the writer uses this earthly illustration to emphasize a spiritual truth. When we follow the ways of our nature, to cheat “a little”, lie “a little”, and steal “a little”, we are committing adultery against God. Dishonesty and fraudulent dealings, even just a little, violates our relationship with God (if we have one). For those who do not know the Lord, they are separated all the more.

How is that? The more you follow the values of this fallen world, the more you will resemble this fallen world, until finally you fall yourself.

Listen to how James addresses such people:

“Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Who ever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4)

Our inner nature can make a little lie, a little cheating, and a little stealing look so good and so well - justified, but whom are we serving? According to whose standards are we taking a step down in character? Here is how it will work out in the end:

“Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man but afterward his mouth will be filled with gravel.” (Proverbs 20:17)

The next time you are tempted to be dishonest, consider whether your good name, or your precious soul, are worth losing for a mouthful of gravel.

Yours in Christ,
Pastor Dennis

Pastor Whitmore recently began serving God at his new assignment, the First United Methodist Church in Laurel, MD.

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