Each week I am writing a short blog in summary of what we are looking at in our Codelife Men’s Smallgroup.
I will not cheat in anything personal or professional.
When I think of cheating my mind goes straight to my 11 year old self, huddled over my maths exam to stop the prying eyes of the girl next to me from seeing my answer to “One train leaves Manchester for London at 100 miles per hour. The journey is 200 miles. How many hours will it take?” I remember that she felt my leg to try and convince me. I was too young to understand why that would have helped her cause.
Or I think of the show Scandal. Its a political-thriller-romantic series based in Washington. Every week some high profile member of government or big business (increasingly hard to distinguish from one another) is caught in a scandal and Olivia Pope Associates rescue them from their imminent downfall. The undercurrent of the show is that Olivia is having an affair with the married president of the United States. This affair, if anything, is the central theme of the show. It has been a strange experience watching it as I have found myself putting my belief that in all cases cheating is abhorrent to one side and have caught myself rooting for them to get together.
Cheating in our culture has moved from something that we admonish to something that titillates and excites us. Magazine covers track the newest celebrity affair scandal across three publications from shock and horror at two people having an affair to ‘adorable’ first pictures of the new couple on holiday in Italy. What have we created?
Cheating is a problem. It is a problem for any society. Corporations find ways to cheat the tax system and hospitals make staff redundant and schools close. We pocket the extra tenner in our change and the barmaid has to walk home at 2am rather than travel in the safety of a taxi. But cheating is also a problem for us.
Cheating is a sign that something else is wrong. A key Christian belief is in the God who provides. Cheating is circumventing that provision in order to steal the blessings that He has given to another. Cheating is a statement that we are dissatisfied by what we have received from the One who gives us every blessing. Cheating not only shows disdain for the blessings you already have but it also shuns the blessing that comes from reaching for your own destiny in favour of stealing that which you do not deserve.
Cheating, like everything that draws us from good, is a corruption of a promise of God. The temptation to cheat is a corruption of the promise of grace. Grace freely gives you what you do not deserve. Cheating steals what you do not deserve.
We must shut down the pathways that open our lives to cheating. We can shut these pathways through gratitude. A joyful person is less likely to cheat. If you are joyful in what you have and are thankful to God for the blessings He has given you, you can be protected from the dissatisfaction that leads to cheating. Secondly, if we gain a perspective on the consequences of a cheating action on ourselves and more importantly on others we can make our decision with sober and educated judgement. Finally we must be in open and accountable relationships that stand with us in temptation.
I am not talking about pity parties that pat one other on the back and say ‘we all sin, don’t worry about it,’ but rather those relationships that fight for one anothers purity, personal and professional. The lie of temptation is that it is shameful to to be tempted but Jesus was tempted as we are and yet was without sin. To face temptation and not take every action to stand against it is foolish. Sharing a temptation with someone you trust takes much of the wind from its sails.
May we be those who do not cheat, who are marked by our honesty, even at what appears significant cost to our prosperity. May we be those who trust our Father who provides for all of our needs and who kill the covetousness in our heart. May we bless the success of others and keep our promises and word in all situations.