by Tim Hall
The baseball game has reached a critical point. A catcher calls time and runs to the mound to confer with the pitcher. As they speak, each covers his mouth with his glove. They’re not trying to avoid spreading germs; they’re being careful to not let anyone see what they’re saying.
The difference between championship and mediocre teams is a matter of small details. If one team can learn what the other intends to do, it gives them an advantage. That’s why spotters are positioned in the stands with binoculars, straining to read the lips of that pitcher as he talks. It happens all the time.
There are rules, however, about how far a team can go. In professional football, the New England Patriots just crossed the line. Last Sunday a staff member roamed the sidelines with a video camera. His assignment was not to capture what happened on the field, but on the opposing team’s sidelines. As a result of this blatant act of cheating, the Patriots’ coach was fined $500,000, the team was fined another $250,000, and a high-round draft pick will be forfeited next year. Cheating has cost them plenty.
But how prevalent is cheating throughout our society? Fortune 500 companies engage in corporate espionage. Buddies at a poker game slyly glance over one another’s shoulders to see what’s in their opponent’s hand. Otherwise decent citizens conceal income from the IRS to avoid paying more taxes. Husbands and wives “cheat” on their spouses to enjoy an evening of pleasure.
“Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is his delight” said the wise man in Proverbs 11:1 (NKJV). If the butcher can skew his scale by just an ounce, he can soon have an extra pound of meat to sell. But God sees that unjust weight, and it is abominable to the Lord!
It’s easy to slack off on one’s job when the boss is out for awhile. But Paul gave Christians a higher standard: “Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God” (Colossians 3:22). God never steps out. If we serve him, our level of honesty will always be high.
Cheating tells others that I can’t be trusted when I’m out of your sight. Cheating encourages others to start looking for their own shortcuts that will give them an advantage. It’s a sad commentary when some of the top stars in one of the top sports in our land routinely say, “It ain’t cheating if you don’t get caught.”
Jesus stated the ideal in Matthew 5:37: “But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’, and your ‘No’, ‘No’. For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” My word should be good enough for those who know me well. That kind of trust only comes when one is committed to honesty at all times.
by Tim Hall