Tragedy from Corruption & Triumph from Sacrifice

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Tragedy from Corruption & Triumph from Sacrifice

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“Bam, b-bam-bam-bam!” The vehicles’ wheels and axles slam as they careen around and through the endless labyrinth of potholes stretching to the horizon and beyond. Vehicles twist across the highway’s surface, bouncing through the moderate-sized holes, preferring ditches on the sides when the holes become too large. Drivers veer in every direction to avoid the holes without regard to traffic rules or which side of the road they should be on. The unrelenting beating one takes is accompanied by the staccato of “Bam, b-bam! Lurch, slam, crunch! ” which must be endured if one doesn’t wish to take two days to cover the 75-kilometer stretch.

The rim of every pothole in this recently constructed highway in Africa is a bitter testament to the corruption of the officials responsible for its existence. The international funds contributed for its creation should have provided a thick layer of asphalt atop a compacted base of gravel. Yet, most of the money ended up in private pockets leaving only enough funds for a one-inch thick veneer of which one becomes painfully aware of at every pothole.

Such highways have crossed African nations for years, subjecting all the vehicles of commerce and transportation to inevitable disintegration at great expense to their owners. The funds once contributed for excellent roads are hidden instead in bank accounts across Europe, while appeals for more aid relentlessly continue. This is but one small example of how the corruption that serves the few, impacts the many.

Government should make sure its citizens are law abiding

Laws are made for the benefit of a nation’s citizens. Authorities and the enforcers of those laws are established for the welfare of all (Romans 13:3-7 Romans 13:3-7 [3] For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Will you then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and you shall have praise of the same: [4] For he is the minister of God to you for good. But if you do that which is evil, be afraid; for he bears not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath on him that does evil. [5] Why you must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. [6] For for this cause pay you tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually on this very thing. [7] Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.
American King James Version×
). In this region of the world, governing authorities have instituted excellent laws for the promotion and protection of all the citizens. Much of the assistance contributed has been by international taxpayers in order to solve a myriad of crises that impact the simple folk who live here.

From lighted traffic signals and hydroelectric projects to organized famine relief and strict public vehicle safety regulations, and from nationally funded district projects to strict building codes, this region has laws that are wise and honorable. Yet, people drive where they please, the food is anywhere but “here” and the ignored building codes, disabled speed monitors and missing seat belts receive blind eyes when palms get filled with cash.

Those receiving bribes turn a calloused eye to their fellow citizens, who become exposed to the very things the officials are in place to prevent. In essence, “your rulers are rebellious, and companions of thieves; everyone loves a bribe, and is pursuing rewards; they do not judge the orphan, nor does the cause of the widow come to them” (Isaiah 1:23 Isaiah 1:23Your princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loves gifts, and follows after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither does the cause of the widow come to them.
American King James Version×
, Modern King James Version throughout).

Taxpayer funds, designated for local improvements, get squirreled away for private use even as politicians award themselves salaries equal to their counterparts in the USA. While impoverished citizens are left to eke out an uncertain existence, officials often fly first class to exotic destinations and, after landing, they helicopter to lavish hotels rather than take taxis.  

In the late night, under a shroud of darkness as everyone sleeps, the last of the stores of grain in the city’s repository are spirited away in government hired trucks headed for the northern border and beyond. The unending drought of recent months has caught the neighboring country’s inhabitants without food and willing to pay high prices to get some. Sensing a profit-making opportunity, agricultural officials have quietly bought up the entire region’s grain and truck it across the border to sell at a 300% profit. The resulting scarcity they are creating in their home country is driving up grain prices by 400%, creating yet another profit-making opportunity. The same officials are said to be importing the second quality grain from South Africa, which is being resold locally at exorbitant rates caused by the grain vacuum they have created at home.  Shock and panic ensue, official inquiries are made and allegations fill the news, but no one gets caught or reprimanded as cash moves from hand to hand. Proverbs 21:14 Proverbs 21:14A gift in secret pacifies anger: and a reward in the bosom strong wrath.
American King James Version×
states, “A gift in secret quiets anger; and a bribe in the bosom quiets strong wrath.”

Worldwide, citizens suffer with poor roads, dangerous transportation, unending disease, intermittent food supplies, inadequate sanitation and scant clean water to drink. Naïve international leaders see the humanitarian needs and open the wallets of their taxpayers out of a desire to help. The rich get richer and the poor largely remain ignored.

A personal account of corruption

Do you ever think of what it would take to solve humanity’s problems and end all corruption? A young lady I know in Africa recently graduated from college and was promoted to the position of District Officer. Her government position is somewhat complicated by being a woman, but she has garnered the respect of the tribal chiefs and local officials that report to her. She is honest, fair and requires that all government laws must be strictly followed as God instructed Israel.

Her experiences remind me of these verses:

“You shall appoint judges and officers for yourself in all your gates which the LORD your God gives you, tribe by tribe. And they shall judge the people with righteous judgment. You shall not pervert judgment; you shall not respect persons, nor take a gift. For a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and perverts the words of the righteous. You shall follow that which is altogether just, that you may live and inherit the land which the LORD your God gives you” (Deuteronomy 16:18-20 Deuteronomy 16:18-20 [18] Judges and officers shall you make you in all your gates, which the LORD your God gives you, throughout your tribes: and they shall judge the people with just judgment. [19] You shall not wrest judgment; you shall not respect persons, neither take a gift: for a gift does blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous. [20] That which is altogether just shall you follow, that you may live, and inherit the land which the LORD your God gives you.
American King James Version×
).

She reports lawbreakers’ breaches of compliance to police authorities that are sworn to investigate and prosecute them. Yet, police officials seem unable to find any evidence against those she has cited for violations. During their investigations, evidence of the infractions disappears and the offenders are allowed to continue to break the law.

Recently, the police chief himself offered her a bribe equal to three times her salary if she would withdraw a citation against a particular person. While being a person of sterling ethics, some officials discount her abilities saying she is “too dumb to take bribes.” The resulting reality is that one who tries to make a difference becomes a mere speed bump in the road of corruption. God is not okay with such situations: “He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just, even both of them are hateful to the LORD” (Proverbs 17:15 Proverbs 17:15He that justifies the wicked, and he that comdemns the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD.
American King James Version×
).

Jesus was subjected to bribery attempts

Bribes make things easy for participants who care little about those who will unknowingly lose out because of them. Jesus was offered a very attractive and very convenient bribe. It was a private, “back-room” offer that would profit both parties for the short term. In essence, Jesus was offered a fast track to becoming ruler of the world, without having to be sacrificed for our sins:

 “And the Devil, leading Him up into a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the Devil said to Him, All this power I will give you, and the glory of them; for it has been delivered to me. And I give it to whomever I will. Therefore if you will worship me, all shall be yours”(Luke 4:5-7 Luke 4:5-7 [5] And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, showed to him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. [6] And the devil said to him, All this power will I give you, and the glory of them: for that is delivered to me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. [7] If you therefore will worship me, all shall be yours.
American King James Version×
).

Had Jesus taken Satan up on his offer, the Passover of 31 A.D. would have never happened and our sins could not be forgiven. Jesus did not take the bait:

“And Jesus answered and said to him, Get behind me, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve’”(Luke 4:8 Luke 4:8And Jesus answered and said to him, Get you behind me, Satan: for it is written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.
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).

Thankfully our God is devoted to the enrichment our lives, not self-promotion. His focus on serving others is resolute:

“For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, the mighty, and a terrible God, who does not respect persons nor take a bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and widow, and loves the stranger in giving him food and clothing”(Deuteronomy 10:17-18 Deuteronomy 10:17-18 [17] For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regards not persons, nor takes reward: [18] He does execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loves the stranger, in giving him food and raiment.
American King James Version×
).

Each of us must also be above reproach

Likewise, His children will have nothing to do with making deals that absolve the breaking of God’s law of love:

“He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly; he who despises the gain of oppressions, who shakes his hands free from holding bribes, who stops his ear from hearing of blood, and shuts his eyes from seeing evil; He shall dwell on high; his refuge shall be the strongholds of rocks; bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure. Your eyes shall see the king in his beauty…”(Isaiah 33:15-17 Isaiah 33:15-17 [15] He that walks righteously, and speaks uprightly; he that despises the gain of oppressions, that shakes his hands from holding of bribes, that stops his ears from hearing of blood, and shuts his eyes from seeing evil; [16] He shall dwell on high: his place of defense shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure. [17] Your eyes shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off.
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).

It is easy to state one’s commitment to loving and serving others as Christ does us. However, “shortcuts” to blessings inevitably get offered to the prospective children of God. What would you be willing to accept if what was offered would feather your nest and alleviate any sacrifices in the future? This is a test that will come to everyone in time, and you should be ready for it. Remember that “gifts” that embellish one’s personal status come with strings attached.

The concept generally involves, “I’ll do something unusual for you, if you’ll do something unusual for me.” While the secret may seem a small thing and harmless to those involved, the mindset created by it is evil. The corrupted focus turns solely onto oneself. The profit realized comes at the expense of others. In contrast, those who refuse bribes are sacrificing for others, while those who accept them develop a mindset opposite God’s children. After all,

“The righteous knows the plea of the poor; the wicked cares not to know it”(Proverbs 29:7 Proverbs 29:7The righteous considers the cause of the poor: but the wicked regards not to know it.
American King James Version×
).

Consequently, God forbids His people to degenerate into such self-serving behavior and unloving deeds:

“And you shall take no bribe, for the bribe blinds the wise and perverts the words of the righteous”(Exodus 23:8 Exodus 23:8And you shall take no gift: for the gift blinds the wise, and perverts the words of the righteous.
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).

Thankfully, our Lord, along with many faithful saints, denied themselves opportunities that would have temporarily saved them. Instead, they sacrificed their short-term lives for the good of those they endeavor to help save in the resurrections to come:

“Women received their dead raised to life again, and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings; yes, more, of bonds and imprisonments. They were stoned, they were sawed in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented. The world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains and dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith…” (Hebrews 11:35-39 Hebrews 11:35-39 [35] Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: [36] And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yes, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: [37] They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; [38] (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. [39] And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:
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Short-term profit has a strong appeal to self-focused humans. In contrast, we are called to pursue God’s Kingdom and His righteousness with perseverance as we endure to our end. Recognize and rejoice in the fact that our Lord was so focused on our wellbeing that He considered His own circumstances second and refused the bribe offered Him. His first coming was that of a faithful liberator of those enslaved to the drudgery and death that results from sinning. He encourages you to participate in His faithful mission to rescue humanity and to pray daily diligently for His second coming.

To learn more about Christ's sacrifice for us and the character each of us must develop, request our free booklet Jesus Christ: The Real Story.