Lying, Cheating, and Stealing

Text: Revelation 21:1-8


I.         What is it that we teach our children?

            A.        What do tell them about lying, cheating, and stealing?

            B.        Most of us would be confident that they understand these things are wrong.

            C.        But are you certain?

            D.        Far too often we send mixed messages.

            E.        One very perceptive mother sent three examples from her life that caused her to stop and wonder what she was teaching her children. Not the words she was saying, but the example that she was giving.

II.        Lying

            A.        “I have a son who is disabled and is only expected to live to his early twenties. I’m trying to get him Social Security and Medicaid benefits, but last year I was denied because I had $2,000 in a savings account – savings to pay our property taxes. The amount I had saved caused Social Security to deny my request. I no longer have the account and I am trying again this year. My son’s doctors told me to lie on the paperwork and pretend he is the only one living in this house. They said that I had to beat the system somehow. My son really needs to get Social Security and Medicaid. We have no insurance and we can’t afford his medical needs on our own.”

            B.        The son’s doctors are subscribing to the mistaken philosophy that the ends justify the means. It is not a philosophy that God approves of - Romans 3:7-8

                        1.         Sinful conduct does not produce good

                        2.         A lie does not improve the situation

            C.        What would happen if this woman did lie?

                        1.         Even if she received the funds, would she find peace?

                        2.         Accounts are audited. People do check once in a while.

                        3.         Would she be better off if her lie was discovered?

                        4.         Sins have a way of not staying hidden - Numbers 32:23

            D.        Then, we must examine our purpose in lying.

                        1.         I’m certain the extra funds would relieve a huge burden off the shoulders of this family.

                        2.         But is the temporary comfort worth going against God?

                                    a.         Liars don’t go to heaven - Revelation 21:7-8

                                    b.         God cannot lie, and neither should we - Hebrews 6:18

                                    c.         Our goal should be the pleasing of God - Galatians 1:10

            E.        Satan is the father of lies - John 8:44

                        1.         It is Satan who makes it appear that the solution to the problem is to lie - James 1:13-16

                        2.         God doesn’t tempt. He provides a way to escape temptation - I Corinthians 10:13

                        3.         If we are faced with the prospect of “having” to break God’s law, then we must conclude that Satan has us deceived and we are overlooking the escape route.

            F.        In this case, the money being saved up for taxes appeared to be the problem

                        1.         The government doesn’t know the money is earmarked for taxes, nor is it trusting enough to say she will actually spend the money on taxes.

                        2.         Therefore, the solution is to pay the taxes early.

                                    a.         Yes, she will lose a small amount of interest, but there can be no question as to the money’s purpose and where it went.

                                    b.         Now that the funds have gone where they would have eventually gone anyway, she can apply again.

                        3.         No lies have been made. If anything honesty is demonstrated - II Corinthians 8:21

III.       Cheating

            A.        “I am taking a night class and all our quizzes and tests are open book, meaning I can look up all the answers from the book. Those of us a little older remember how much trouble we could be in if we were caught cheating. It feels like cheating to me. Besides, how much will I learn this way? I need this class for a job to help with our finances. I could pass the class with a higher grade if I looked up the answers in the book.”

            B.        I found this interesting because I teach college courses and generally give open book, open note tests.

                        1.         Since my courses are business related, I figure that it is more important for people to know where to locate information they don’t know than to expect them to retain every scrap of data in their memory.

                        2.         I do warn my students that they still need to know the material because if they expect to look up all the answers, they will never complete the test in the allotted time.

                        3.         Instead, they should be able to answer most questions from memory. For those that they can’t, they should know their material well enough to be able to quickly locate the answer in the book or their notes.

            C.        Is this cheating?

                        1.         First, it is not cheating when you are following the instructor’s directions.

                        2.         Second, it is not cheating because the same rules are being applied to all students.

                        3.         When we say someone cheated, we are saying that justice is not being carried out.

                                    a.         The playing field is not level.

                                    b.         Some players are given advantage over others.

            D.        God told merchants in Israel to deal honestly - Leviticus 19:36

                        1.         God did not set what He thought was a fair price for products.

                        2.         He allowed merchants to set any price they desired.

                        3.         But He did demand that the transaction be fair.

                                    a.         If a person was buying a hin of wheat, then that person should receive precisely a hin of wheat.

            E.        If you went to the grocery store and found an incredible bargain on the cereal isle, would you walk by because you believe the price was set too low?

                        1.         Yet, this is what is being said about the course.

                        2.         “I think the course is too easy, so I’m changing the rules for myself.”

            F.        Now, think about it from an employer’s viewpoint. Given two people that took the same course. One made an “A” and another a “B,” which would the employer hirer?

                        1.         Wouldn’t the employer assume that if it was the same course that both received grades under the same rules?

                        2.         Would he wonder if the “B” student only got the “B” because he made the course harder for himself?

                        3.         Now, if the employer knew this was the case, he still won’t hire such a person.

                                    a.         Who wants an employee that makes work harder just for the challenge of it?

                                    b.         What a way to ruin productivity!

            G.        Justice requires equality in requirements

                        1.         Hiring relatives is called cronyism because it appears candidates for a job are not measured equally

                        2.         This is one reason that in the matter of salvation God emphasizes His fairness - Colossians 3:23-25; Romans 2:11

                        3.         Justice in our dealings with our fellow men doesn’t mean we won’t make judgments, but that we will strive to eliminate bias in our judgment - James 2:9

                                    a.         The rich and powerful do not get better treatment than the poor - Leviticus 19:15

                                    b.         When leaders in the Church sinned, even an apostle of Christ, Paul didn’t let who the people involved were dissuade him from doing what was right - Galatians 2:4-7, 11

            H.        Thus, in this example, no cheating – no injustice – was being committed.

IV.      Stealing

            A.        “I was at a grocery store’s gas station where using the store’s card gives you a 3 cent per gallon discount. One day when I used the card, I received an 8 cent per gallon discount. My daughter and I grinned about the great deal we received because of the store’s mistake. I’m sure we all try and save every penny we can, but should we at someone else’s mistake?”

            B.        First, she should make sure the situation is truly as she described.

                        1.         I have a discount card through a store as well.

                        2.         Sometimes the store adds extra discounts as bonuses for purchases as the store.

            C.        But let’s assume that someone had made a mistake. What would be the fair and honest thing to do?

                        1.         Remember the point about equity?

                        2.         What if instead of an extra discount you received less of a discount. What would you do?

                                    a.         Most would quickly bring the short fall to a clerk’s attention.

                                    b.         If that is the right thing to do, should it also be right when the scales tilt in our favor?

                        3.         Once the mistake is pointed out, the response is up to the clerk in deciding how to handle the problem.

                                    a.         Some will thank you and make a correction

                                    b.         Others consider it good customer relations to say “I made the mistake, so don’t worry about it.”

                                    c.         A few don’t care about their employer and will be annoyed that you are making them look bad and holding up their line.

                                    d.         Whatever the decision, you should do the right thing by letting them decide how to handle the problem.

            D.        Even to his own hurt - Psalm 15:4-5

                        1.         Riches do not save if we sin - Proverbs 11:4

                        2.         What is gained if our soul is lost? - Matthew 16:26

            E.        Examples

                        1.         A bank clerk once accidentally added $3,000 dollars to a deposit that I made.

                                    a.         I didn’t look at the receipt until I got home, but I immediately ran back to the bank and stood in her line to let her know.

                                    b.         She acted as if it wasn’t a big deal and corrected the transaction.

                                    c.         But you know, she remembered my name for the next three years that she worked there.

                                    d.         A small act on a mistake that would have been caught anyway improved my reputation

                        2.         In paying off a loan that was being handled by automatic payments, I noticed on the last statement that the last payment was short 15 cents.

                                    a.         The mistake was done by the loan company when they were dividing the payments up. In order to get equal size payments, their calculation made a rounding error.

                                    b.         I spend an hour or two running all over town trying to find the proper department in this large company so I could pay that 15 cents on time.

                                    c.         Though I owed the fifteen cents, the clerk went into the computer records and cleared the charges because he felt that the mistake was on his company’s part.

                                    d.         I’m sure he was shaking his head at my spending so much time just to pay fifteen cents, but that is what I want my children to remember.

            F.        Luke 6:30-35 - Everyone expects everyone to profit from another person’s mistake. So let your light shine in this dark world, do the unexpected.

V.        Being a Christian is not just about the big decisions that we make. The little things so our mind set - Luke 16:10

            A.        It is good for each of us to examine our lives to see if we are the Lord’s - Galatians 6:3-5