One of the amazing things about life is that sometimes the truth in front of us goes unrecognized and we end up with unanticipated consequences that should have been anticipated. The Bible says sometimes we deceive ourselves. Let’s take for example political corruption – the truth is that there is a long list of politicians and public officials who have succumbed to the temptation to misappropriate funds or use their positions as an advantage to gain favor or benefit. This happens in spite of the fact that so many of their colleagues before have lost their jobs and reputations, and some have even gone to prison for the same acts. It is human nature to want an advantage, or self-advancement, but if we are honest we should also know that there are consequences for our actions that should not come as a surprise.
When I was growing up, I used to hear a phrase from a TV detective series called “Baretta”, that goes, “don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time – don’t do it”. The phrase was catchy and “Baretta” was one of my favorite shows, but it also reveals something many business people, religious leaders, politicians and everyday people on the street often forget. Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” By the same token, if you ignore the truth, the consequences do not go away.
I have had occasions to talk to young men in gangs and have given talks in prison here in The Bahamas and other places in the world and what is interesting is I have yet to meet a person who has stated that they desired to be in prison, or in most cases even expected to be there. This is interesting because I shared a statistic with them that many said they did not even think about thoroughly. I asked them how many would take a job with a 99 percent failure rate. Most said they would not take a job with such a high failure rate and then they asked me what job is that. I asked them how many were aware of the successful retired drug dealers association. They asked me if such an organization existed and I told them there is no such organization because virtually every major drug dealer that I knew was either dead, in prison or living a disadvantaged life. I then moved on to another similar question, and asked how many knew of successful gang members. Some were able to recall gang members who became successful but very few were successful because they remained in the gang life.
The discussion then turned to another group that had a very high failure rate, which was the mafia. It is amazing that there are countless mafia movies and TV shows that have made some of these men famous, yet they almost all die or end up in prison. They earn a lot of money and have flashy lifestyles, but it is almost always short-lived. They even have a hard time really enjoying their wealth because they are constantly on the lookout for either associates trying to rob or kill them or the police trying to lock them up.
I wish I could stand in front of every group I mentioned above and tell them simply this: there is truth and there are consequences. If you recognize the truth, you save yourself the unfavorable consequences. It is better to be broke and happy than to be rich and in prison. It is better to live a modest life and save your reputation than to live an extravagant life and be permanently ruined and lose everything. The bible talks about the value of being content. The statement says, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” In other words, you gain more by living the truth than by having a temporary period of plenty living a lie. It is time for us all to face the truth – or live with the consequences.
• Pastor Dave Burrows is senior pastor at Bahamas Faith Ministries International. Feel free to email comments, whether you agree or disagree, to email@example.com. I appreciate your input and dialogue. We become better when we discuss, examine and exchange.