“A bribe is like a magic stone in the eyes of the one who gives it; wherever he turns he prospers…The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life.” (Proverbs 17:8; 22:4)
“And you shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds the clear-sighted and subverts the cause of those who are in the right.” (Exodus 23:8)
This week we have considered the only wise foundation of our faith, Jesus Christ. We hear biblical sermons and devotions; we study the Bible, but do we remember what we have heard and apply it in our daily lives? Pride and complacency cause us to neglect biblical applications and affects all of our relationships; we do not do the good we should. Today we shall consider how unwise it is to give or take a bribe, and the difference between a bribe and a reward. God commanded the Israelites to take no bribes because doing so both threatens and corrupts the plans of those who are righteous. However, the Bible unashamedly speaks of rewards for righteousness and submission to God.
Bribes are given or received as a payment for a favorable judgment or act, usually illegal or dishonest. Rewards, however, are blessings for godly faith and obedience. How do you know if giving your middle school child allowance or privileges for good grades is a bribe or a reward? Here is the test: bribes involve that which dishonors God while rewards encourage children to glorify him. Like most issues in life, the use of rewards is complex and can be easily confused with bribery, which is wholly unacceptable. We must wisely work through each case diligently.
An example of a blatant bribe in the New Testament can serve as a valuable example. Matthew 28:12-15 describes a bribe which is foolish and utterly illogical. After Jesus’s body was found missing from the tomb, on the third day after his crucifixion, the Jewish chief priests and elders gave money to the Roman soldiers and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” Pastor John Gill, along with other theologians lists more than ten reasons why this is utterly foolish and makes no sense at all. I will give a few, and you can look up the others on the website below.* The disciples had no real understanding of the resurrection and therefore wouldn’t try to prevent anyone else from believing it. Nor did they have anything to gain from such an act since it would disprove Jesus’s resurrection and their faith would be seen as a mere crutch. Was it really possible that all the soldiers were asleep at the same time and that not one of them heard the stone being rolled away? Why didn’t they pursue and investigate the theft? This bribe of silence about the resurrection failed and led to nothing but an excellent example of why not to engage in bribery. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a foundational doctrine of the Christian faith.
Do you try to bribe your children to do what they ought to do? Do you have friends who offer gifts or benefits because they want your love? Will you be diligent to know and teach about the difference between bribes and wise rewards? “Many seek the favor of a generous man, and everyone is a friend to a man who gives gifts.” (Proverbs 19:6)