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child bribing with an apple May 30 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Proverbs 16, 17, 18

Bribery versus Honesty

A child leaves an apple on the teacher's desk, hoping that he will get a better grade on his test. What is this? Bribery of course! We might smile at this innocent little attempt to get a teacher to act favorably, but we do not smile when highly intellectual students are given money to take tests in place of other college bound students so that the latter may enter Ivy League schools. We do not like cheating or any perversions of justice. In this section of Solomon’s Proverbs, which has various unrelated gold nuggets of wisdom, the topic of bribery versus honesty has been chosen. A person who engages in bribery is not right with God, but that can be changed (more...).

“He who winks with his eye is plotting perversity; he who purses his lips is bent on evil” (Proverbs 16:30, NIV).

Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent-- the LORD detests them both (Proverbs 17:15, NIV).

It is not good to punish an innocent man, or to flog officials for their integrity (Proverbs 17:26, NIV).
It is not good to be partial to the wicked or to deprive the innocent of justice (Proverbs 18:5, NIV).

Most people who seek justice through courts want a fair trial and an unbiased, morally right decision (hopefully in their favor). What galls them is when a witness, judge or lawyer is offered money or favors, and justice is perverted. “A bribe is a charm to the one who gives it; wherever he turns, he succeeds” (Proverbs 17:8, NIV). This verse and others (Proverbs 18:4; 21:14) state a fact from the perspective of the one who bribes. It is not an endorsement of his behavior. Both the briber and the bribed seek to distort due process (Proverbs 17:23). What does a bribe do? The Biblical patriarch Moses warned the Israelites, “Do not pervert justice or show partiality. Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous” (Deuteronomy 16:19, NIV). No wonder we do not like bribery.

We do not like bribery of our court officials or anyone else in authority, but many times people try to bargain with God by bribing him. They may bargain with promises, or put more money into a church offering plate, or support good civic and religious causes to gain God's favor. Will the LORD accept bribes and indulge their sinful behavior? Again Moses writes, “... the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes” (Deuteronomy 10:17, NIV). It is wonderful that we have such a righteous LORD who will judge each person with fairness. And, since God is fair and impartial, he expects us to be the same way. God wants a personal relationship with us, not our money (more...).

Solomon writes, “A greedy man brings trouble to his family, but he who hates bribes will live” (Proverbs 15:27, NIV). Extortion is a price that must be paid for favors, and some can exact a heavy toll on us. This can bring shame and trouble to a family. If we do not accept hush money, however, we can operate honestly, without guilt and shame, and provide a model of integrity for our youth.

King Solomon writes, “All a man's ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the LORD” (Proverbs 16:2, NIV).

“Better a little with righteousness than much gain with injustice” (Proverbs 16:8, NIV).

“Honest scales and balances are from the LORD; all the weights in the bag are of his making” (Proverbs 16:11, NIV). It is God who decides what is honest. We might like to decide that for ourselves, but those “who measure themselves by themselves are not wise” (2Corinthians 10:12, NIV). We sometimes convince ourselves that compared to what others do, our own ways are honest, when in God's eyes they are not.

“The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the heart” (Proverbs 17:3, NIV). As the hot fires burn out the impurities in the smelting process, leaving the pure, genuine metals; so the believer's heart is purified through the fires of trouble (James 1:2-3; 1Peter 1:7). Besides teaching us patience and reliance upon the LORD, the fires of trouble often serve to burn away pretense to make sure our motives are honest and pure.

“Kings detest wrongdoing, for a throne is established through righteousness. Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value a man who speaks the truth” (Proverbs 16:12-13, NIV). If we operate our lives by honesty and integrity, people who have prosperity, power, and position will respect us and will likely be favorable toward us.

“By justice a king gives a country stability, but one who is greedy for bribes tears it down.” (Proverbs 29:4, NIV). For justice to survive, we need honest men and women in our court system and in our society.

Lessons to Live By

•  A bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous.

•  God shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. And, since God is fair and impartial, he expects us to be the same way.

•  Accepting hush money or special favors can bring shame and trouble to a family. If we do not accept bribes, however, we can operate honestly, without guilt and shame, and provide a model of integrity for our youth.

•  The fires of trouble often serve to burn away pretense to make sure our motives are honest and pure.

•  If we operate our lives by honesty and integrity, people who have prosperity, power, and position will respect us and will likely be favorable toward us.

•  For justice to survive, we need honest men and women in our court system and in our society.

•  We please God by our integrity, not our deceitful behavior. Someday, all we have done and said will be held in account by him (Hebrews 9:27). Let's make sure we are honest in all our dealings, not deceitful. This starts with a right relationship with God (more...).

Focus Verse

Micah 6:8 (NIV) “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

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A Look Ahead: Our Next Lesson in the book of Proverbs covers the topic, To Work or Not to Work? What is the value of work, anyway? Join us.

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