Those who seek ill-gotten gain look to entice others to join them. Solomon advises us to steer clear. There are a couple of traps waiting for us on these paths. And if we aren’t careful, we can find ourselves wrapped up in a not-so-fun game of Life Jenga…
My son, if sinful men entice you, do not give in to them. These men lie in wait for their own blood; they ambush only themselves! Such are the paths of all who go after ill-gotten gain; it takes away the life of those who get it.
Proverbs 1:10, 18-19
The first trap is that when we pursue dishonest gain, we ambush ourselves. Our deceit – even those white little lies – catches up. In fact, it chases us down. How do you stay one step ahead of your own lies? That’s easy. We learned it as children. We simply tell more lies.
Ever play Jenga? It’s a stack of wood and each player removes a piece in succession until the whole pile falls. Fun game at a party. Lies are like Jenga. They don’t build. They take away the foundation. Each lie we tell to cover the last takes another stick out of the tower of truth as we try to make it taller and taller. Sooner or later the party’s over and the sticks all crash to the ground.
The second reality of deceit-based success is that it takes away the life of those who get it. This is an achievement paradox which would make old Maslow shout an amen. Fulfilment and actualization, the abundant life of our highest purpose as humans, cannot be based on success or impact which is the product of deception. There is nothing to be proud about in this house of cards.
What’s a good test? Nana. Could you tell your Nana? When she expresses how proud she is about your achievement in life, could you tell her with innocent pride about each step of the way? Or would you have to leave out some juicy parts?
That’s the robbery of such a life. When we know in our hearts that we can’t be honest about everything, pieces of our lives are lost. Solomon advises us to run in the other direction. Don’t play Jenga with your life.