“A bribe is seen as a charm by the one who gives it;
they think success will come at every turn.”
Bribery is not a topic we think of as being particularly Biblical. I was surprised to find Exodus 23:8. “You shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds the officials, and subverts the cause of those who are in the right.” Bribery was included as part of the law coming through Moses, centuries ago! Merriam-Webster defines a bribe as “money or favor given or promised in order to influence the judgment or conduct of a person in a position of trust.” We think of “dirty cops” as ones who accept money to turn their eyes the other way about a crime. We might have a heated discussion about how money influences political campaigns or how our representatives work in our legal centers. We even say, “Everyone has their price!” Many believe at some level that money or favors can make life work the way they want it to. All of us would probably like to think we are above bribery.
So how does this verse apply to me down where my rubber meets my road? I suppose an obvious application is when in great distress I “bargain” with God and promise to do whatever if only God will make life go the way I want it to. When disease hurts loved ones I might plead and beg with God. When disaster strikes I also am tempted to bargain. Could it be that we loose sight of the heart of God that loves us when we become ugly, old, poor or whatever? We change our focus from a good God to figuring out how we can make a situation work in our favor.
Perhaps one of the most famous Biblical bribery stories is Judas Iscariot being paid 30 pieces of silver to betray Jesus. We have debated the motives of all involved but we do know that Judas received money, and agreed to lead people to Jesus at the Garden of Gethsemane on Maunday Thursday and that resulted in the arrest of Jesus and his eventual crucifixion. Judas regretted his actions and hung himself. Bribes have charm and lure people into trouble with a promise for a hopeful future but usually the promises are deceptive.
So perhaps the challenge facing us today is to reflect on our relationship with God and those niggling thoughts that if only we prayed more, gave more, did more good deeds that somehow God would love us more. But, in truth, we need only go to him. God may have a different solution than we want but God has our back because God can be trusted and he cares. Blessings.