1st Sunday of Lent
Now Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him, and Esau said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are approaching; then I will kill my brother Jacob.
Deception always comes with a high price. Actually, any action you make can earn you some consequences you didn’t plan on – good or bad. Your positive actions night generate infinitely more good attitudes than you counted on. At the same time, your negative actions can have far-reaching consequences beyond what you can see at the moment.
Let me share an incident from my own history. When I was in high school, I was part of a gifted English program. Because we were in an advanced program, we were expected to perform at a high level in pretty much every area. One of those areas was vocabulary, where making a perfect score on the tests seemed impossible to us. We studied and struggled for a couple of months and yet could never seem to overcome the difficulty of the exams.
That’s when a student from the previous year’s class told us how they ended up passing the tests – they’d started stealing the answers. It turns out that every class for many years had done this, and passed that secret on to the next year’s edition. With that knowledge in hand, my buddy Clark and I led the way in getting the answers and passing them to our fellow classmates. There were only about 15 of us in the class, and we had 100 percent participation.
Each week, we’d decide who would get less than 100 percent – just to make sure not everyone would just immediately pop up to perfection. The plan went perfectly for months, until one day one of us decided to steal the answers in the middle of class and got caught red-handed – me. That day, I earned a three-day out-of-school suspension, which also meant that all work that I missed while at home counted as a zero. Our final term paper and presentation were due during my suspension, but I was allowed to turn them in early (though the grades on both were bad). My grade in the class went from an A to barely a C. Rightfully, I should have failed the course.
Even though one of my classmates “outed” everyone else for cheating, without proof they escaped punishment. Still, our teacher, who had been so close to us that year, was hurt that we would show such disrespect to her. While I was cheating on those tests, it seemed so innocent – just a better grade on a test. I didn’t see how it might threaten my graduation and rupture a relationship between a teacher and her students – or between my parents and myself. It took some time before I was able to regain their trust.
Jacob’s deception of Isaac and Esau was far worse. A father’s blessing was highly prized, and could contain details about the son’s inheritance and the future. When Jacob stole Esau’s blessing, he received promises of the richness of the earth, as well as control over his family – including Esau. Rebekah knew that would be the case, and chose Jacob over Esau to receive the blessing. Jacob went along with the plan, and in so doing ensured that his brother would thereafter seek to kill him.
That’s the way it always is when we’re caught in deception. It doesn’t matter if we intended to hurt someone or not – the fact that you deceived someone will break that relationship, and sometimes that break can be permanent. The only way to avoid that is to not deceive, and to always be honest. Honesty has its own rewards (such as, “A good and honest life is a blessed memorial, but the mouth of the wicked is a dark cave of abuse.” and “Honesty lives confident and carefree, but Shifty is sure to be exposed” – Proverbs 10:6 and 9).
Always prize honesty over deception. Regardless of the seeming innocence of the act, and the ease of the supposed rewards, the price of deception will always be higher than you can measure. And the true rewards of honesty will always exceed what you can see at the moment.
Reflection copyright © 2017 Doug DeBolt.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.