Daily Devotional for Saturday September 23, 2006

Cheating Dishonors God

(Proverbs 13:5; Hebrews 13:18)

One of the early lessons most learn as a child is that cheating is wrong. Period. It is not something that you can debate or make exceptions for, it is always wrong 100% of the time. One of the breakdowns in our society these past 40 years is the attitude of people towards cheating. The sad reality of the world we live in today is that cheating is not only accepted, but condoned, as long as you don't get caught. Today, I want to deal with this whole issue of cheating and challenge those who love the Lord to be men and women of honor, not dishonor, which is what a cheat is.

A few months ago, a book came out written by two writers from the San Francisco Chronicle that catalogs and documents the use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs by baseball superstar Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants. Bonds has been suspected for many years of using steroids to enhance his performance on the field. Never before in baseball history has a player had their productivity increase after the age of 35 like Bonds. Steroids not only makes an athlete stronger, but just as importantly, allows their body to recover quicker, keeping them on the field each day playing at their highest level.

The book, "Game of Shadows," uses as one of its many sources, interviews, cell-phone records, answering machine tapes, and documents from Bond's long-time mistress. Sadly, Bonds not only cheated in playing baseball, but he also cheated on his wife and family. The fact is, Bonds was already a baseball superstar, possibly even a Hall of Famer prior to his involvement with steroids. Cheating has not only tarnished his career, but will undoubtedly cause great pain to his family and others in his life. Remember this, when you cheat, you will eventually be caught.

"You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence." (Psalms 90:8 NIV)

I know in my own life the pain I caused myself, my wife, and others close to me when I made the decision to cheat many years ago. It was 1988, I had the opportunity to get involved in a scheme to trade the stock market on inside information. Even though I knew it was illegal, satan, the great justifier, told me that nobody was really getting hurt and that I wouldn't get caught. Sadly, we forget when we listen to satan, we are listening to a LIAR! John 8:44 calls him the "father of lies." He is always there, quick to lie to us to help us justify why it is OK to cheat. Of course, less than a year later my cheating was exposed, and I would eventually spend 31 months of my life in Federal Prison. (http://www.weeklyplanet.com/2003-12-04/cover.html) Never forget my friend, that your secret sins will be exposed one day. What you do in the dark, so nobody else can see, will eventfully be seen in the light. If you are cheating at work or at school; if you are cheating on your taxes; if you are cheating someone out of money or property; if you are cheating on your spouse; if you are cheating at a game; if you are cheating in any way, you will eventually be caught. As I share with you often, sin always carries a big price, a price much greater than we ever dreamed we would have to pay.

This is a huge issue in our society today, since we now have the largest percentage of two full generations who have never been to church and have grown up in homes void of God and Biblical Truth. We have so many children growing up in busted, blended, unstable homes, where basic values like honesty are not being taught or reinforced. Subsequently, we live in a culture now where cheating at every level is pretty much acceptable; again, as long as you don't get caught. Baseball knew Barry Bonds was cheating, but until documented, irrefutable proof was put forth, they simply ignored it and let it happen.

The heart of all the recent high-profile corporate scandals from Martha Stewart to Enron to WorldCom to Tyco to Adelphia are all about this same thing, cheating. Again, the stance of our society today is that cheating is not only acceptable but often encouraged . . . as long as you don't get caught, then everyone acts outraged and incredulous at how people could do such a thing. This is another reason why now, more than ever, the people of God have got to rise up and take a stand for righteousness. We can start by living our lives each day with honor and integrity.

I love you and care about you so much. As followers of Christ, it has to be our desire and our goal to be like our Lord. Jesus was truth! (John 14:6, John 8:32,36; Hebrews 6:18) To be like Jesus, we have to be people of truth. Don't forget, satan is a liar. When we lie, when we are dishonest, when we cheat, we are not acting like Jesus but like satan. We live in a world that is lost in sin, listening only to the lies of satan, so it is no wonder why people cheat. They don't know how to live any other way. That is why those who know the Lord have got to rise up and be counted in these last days, and lead people into righteousness.

I will be praying for you today. Praying that you will take some time today and evaluate your life. Are you cheating in any area of your life? If you are, STOP NOW before it destroys you. God is speaking to many of you through this message today. He is trying to get your attention by tapping you on your shoulder. Trust me, the next time He taps, it may be with a 2x4 on the back of your head, or maybe a steel pole for those like me who have extra thick skulls. A tap on the shoulder can be convicting, but it is better than the pain of that 2x4 or steel pole.

Barry Bonds is only 23 home runs from passing Hank Aaron to become the all-time home run king in baseball history. Even if he does set this record, he will always be known as a cheater. Rather than enjoy the adulations as one of the greatest to ever play the game, he will be scorned and rejected by most who will only remember him for being a cheater. Pray for Barry Bonds and his family today. I have no idea where he is with the Lord, but now more than ever, he needs Christ in his heart and life.

While you may never be as famous or as well known as Barry Bonds, you are known by your family and friends, by the people you go to school with, work with, recreate with, and go to church with. Do you want to be known as a person of honor and integrity, someone who lives a life that exemplifies what being a man or woman of God is supposed to be like? Or will you cheat in different areas of your life, get caught, and be known by those people in your life as just that, a cheater? The choice is yours. You can dishonor God by being a liar and cheater, or honor God by being a man or woman of honor, integrity, and the truth!!!