Cheaters Eating Gravel

Day 20 in Proverbs

Proverbs 20: 17 “The food you get by cheating may taste delicious, but it turns to gravel.”


I don’t like cheaters much.  (OK, unless I have to do some silly ice breaking game at an event, in which case I want to be on the team who agrees to not do the activity but says we did.  Then it is fine in Kim’s world….and I love you for supporting me in that.)  

I remember back in high school realizing someone who cheated excessively was possibly going to beat me in class rank.  I didn’t care much about class rank really… of my high school goals was to get grades high enough to get into a decent college, but low enough that I was in no danger of having to make a speech at graduation.  I met that goal.  And it’s not to say I was a paragon of virtue during those years….my math homework was shared all over the place (usually I got it done because my Dad was around to help me excessively) and I did get a heads up for Joe Holpp’s history class so I knew what questions he was going to ask for bonus points that day.  (But he threw me out of contention of that early on when he realized I was being a point hog and made me read out loud for my points instead.  And since I liked his class, I usually made 100s on his tests anyway, so didn’t really need extra points.)  But cheating on tests…..that seemed more wrong somehow and seeing someone do it for most classes, boldly and proudly, bugged me.  And I didn’t think they deserved any honor for it.

I finally learned that cheating in little things makes you more susceptible to cheating in big things, so if I didn’t want to be a cheater, I needed to not be one boldly.  I’d already come to terms that I didn’t want to be a liar… seeing that cheating was so closely akin to that, I decided I needed to try to work on that, too.  I tried to manage my life so it was a “no cheating” zone.  Even with things that seemed pretty small.  With my attention span, you have to make sure you keep short accounts lest you forget.  You’d think that something like that would be easy to remember….well, it’s not!  There are little temptations all over the place and sometimes you just forget and name it something else, so it doesn’t seem so wrong when you do it.  If you ever see me falter, you not only have my permission to call me out on it but if you are my friend it is your responsibility to try to stop me!  And yes, I will falter.  It’s amazingly easy.   

Like when I wanted to see the Sistine Chapel and the line was too long for me to wait.  I was leaving town that day, so I went to the front of the line and pretended to be part of a group of German tourists and encouraged my friends to do it too.  We saw the Sistine Chapel…..but yeah….others waited longer because of my selfishness.  That was an example of my cheating.  Honestly, I still haven’t totally repented.  I apologize if you were behind me in that line….though I was so very subtle you didn’t know it.  I recognize it was wrong of me.  But oh, the Sistine Chapel was amazing!  See… true regret yet.  No true repentance.

OK….see how easy it is to justify?  It’s an “I am a center of the world” thing.  “The rules do not apply to me because I am special” thing.  An “It’s OK because no one noticed” thing.  Cheating impacts others whether they know it or not. And it impacts you whether you know it or not.  It changes who you are.  It shows your character.  Truth is that you are only the center of your own world.  Your own selfish world.  If you care about others, you look outside of that circle.  I haven’t mastered that yet….but I am trying.

Probably the reason I have not repented about the Sistine Chapel thing is that I don’t know of any personal negative impact.  Had I come out and found out that someone else missed their chance to go in because of my line jumping, I would have felt horrible.  Definitely I would have felt like I was eating gravel.  It would have ruined the whole experience.  Because I was able to leave blissfully unaware of impact to anyone else, it is difficult to come to terms with it being wrong.  But still….it is and was.  I was a cheater.

Cheating may bring momentary reward, but does not show long term accomplishment.  It doesn’t show any accomplishment, as a matter of fact.  You’re not playing by the rules, so really you automatically lose the game.  If you are going to choose to lose a game, life is probably not the one you want to pick.  While we may miss out on certain experiences if we choose not to cheat, or maybe even have near as much short term fun, at least we won’t be eating gravel.  While I understand it contains many vitamins and minerals, it is hard to choke down.  And choking on gravel….it doesn’t become you.  Make that us! 

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