Tag Archives: Bribery

The Untouchable One

The king by judgment establisheth the land: but he that receiveth gifts overthroweth it. –Proverbs 29:4, KJV

Eliot Ness and his team of Untouchables were FBI agents during the American age of Prohibition, known as the Untouchables for being unwilling to accept bribes or cutbacks on the illegal sale of alcohol.

Looking back on history, how many leaders can truly be called untouchable, untarnished by the dealings of our corrupt world?

Kings took unethical steps to get or maintain power. Popes bribed their way into the position. Presidents, Prime Ministers, Governors, and other figureheads bought, bribed, and weaseled their way into power or to maintain their seat.

How great is it to know that our Lord, Jesus, was and is untouchable by the ways of this world?

He cannot be bought or bribed, nor will He cheat or turn away from us.

He paid the price that needed to be paid for our own corruption, but He is without corruption and will one day judge the world.

The Untouchable One touched us with His cleansing blood to establish His everlasting, perfect Kingdom.

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The Perfect Gift

Proverbs 21:14 

A gift in secret pacifieth anger: and a reward in the bosom strong wrath.
A secret gift calms anger; a bribe under the table pacifies fury. (NLT)

I don’t recall receiving any secret gifts, or any bribes for that matter. I have been asked to pay bribes, the last time when going through passport control in a certain African country. The request for payment was not to pacify anger, but to smooth my way through immigration when I had already paid the official fee. But when should gifts be made to placate an angry person? The Bible provides some examples, although those I can think of were not made in secret.

There is the example of Jacob returning home with his family and flocks. Having cheated his brother Esau out of his birthright many years before Jacob was somewhat apprehensive about the sort of greeting Esau might have in mind when Jacob arrived on the doorstep. In fact, Esau had sworn to kill Jacob after their father died (Genesis 27:41). So Jacob sent flocks and herds ahead as a gift for his brother. As it happened Esau had already put the past behind him and had more than plenty. He was genuinely pleased to see his brother again, and to discover that God had blessed him.

Then there was the time that David sent his men to Nabal, the local rich man, to ask for food and water. Nabal read David’s men their fortune and told them to take a hike. When they returned to David he blew a fuse, and together with 400 armed men headed back to find Nabal and read him his fortune. While Nabal was a fool, he was married to a smart lady by the name of Abigail. She took charge of the situation, and headed off to meet David with more than enough supplies to feed David and his men (1 Samuel 25).

This proverb and the two examples from Scripture indicate that there may be times when gifts need to be made, and not only in secret. While there are times when a gift may correct a wrong, God’s people are encouraged to be generous. There should be occasions in all of our lives when a gift should be made for no other reason than to bring joy to another human being.

There is a gift that should be made in secret. It is the gift of our time when we choose to find a quiet place at the start of the day to surrender ourselves completely before God. We do so knowing that God’s anger at our failings was pacified when Jesus gave His life as the perfect gift. Such a perfect gift requires only one response. How do you express your gratitude?

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7 (NIV)


Perverted Justice

Proverbs 17:23

“A wicked man taketh a gift out of the bosom to pervert the ways of judgment.”
“The wicked accept bribes in secret to pervert the course of justice.” -NIV

What “They” Do

Bribes are bad, especially when truth and justice is perverted. That is the main point of this proverb. The wicked man takes a bribe in order to keep justice from going forward.

We’ve seen the movies, read the books, and may have even experienced the results in real life. We are all familiar with what the bad guys typically do. They take money to keep from testifying at a trial. They are given a little off the top to collect a little more from a debtor. They are paid to tell a lie in order to get another bad guy acquitted of a crime. That’s what bad guys do.

I once knew of a pest control company that was bribed to give clearance letters. Builders who wanted to save a few hundred dollars would give fifty to the owner of the company, and in turn he would give the builder a letter stating the new property had been pre-treated for termites. Justice was perverted because the new houses were sold with no protection from termites, and when they did come, the homeowner was usually convinced to pay a large sum to the same pest control company for a termite treatment.

These were bad guys, and that’s what they do.

What “We” Do

What many fail to recognize is the wickedness in their own hearts. It is so easy to judge others, but it is very hard to judge ourselves.

Have you ever given someone money for doing a small job, but then asked the person to not report the money on his tax return? Have you ever said, “If we do this ‘under the table,’ you won’t have to report it, and we’ll both be better off“? If you did, the law was skirted, and justice was perverted. Now who’s the bad guy?

Lord, help us to do what is right at all times, even when doing what is right cost us a little more. Help us to desire justice, not pervert it. 


Bribery and Corruption

Proverbs 17:8 

A gift is as a precious stone in the eyes of him that hath it: whithersoever it turneth, it prospereth.
A bribe is like a lucky charm; whoever gives one will prosper! (NLT)

Other translations of this verse use the word bribe instead of gift. Strong’s translates the word as a donation, bribe, gift, present or reward. Matthew Henry’s take on this proverb is that: ‘Those who set their hearts upon money, will do any thing for it. What influence should the gifts of God have on our hearts!’ What influence indeed?

There is a further warning about gifts/bribes in the book of Exodus when the law was being given to the nation of Israel:

And thou shalt take no gift: for the gift blindeth the wise, and perverteth the words of the righteous. (Exodus 23:8 KJV)

My first experience of bribery occurred in the 1970s when there was port congestion in the Persian Gulf, and many ships and their crews waited months at anchor for a pilot and a berth in port to discharge or load cargo. I spent three weeks there at anchor in 1975. Each day a small boat would come out to us (and all the other ships) and a man in uniform would demand to see our Captain. Each day the request was the same, “200 cigarettes and a bottle of whisky, Captain, and you get your pilot tomorrow.” No doubt many captains were tempted to provide such a bribe, uncertain of whether the uniformed official had the power to provide a pilot. Our Captain refused to meet such requests. He had other plans. But similar challenges were often faced in other foreign ports when various officials expected to be paid to make things happen. Like the man in the uniform in the Persian Gulf, their hearts had become focused on what they could get in material terms.

I think Matthew Henry got the meaning of this verse absolutely correct. If money and the like are what warm your heart, then eventually you may do anything for the sake of money or gifts. What influence should the gifts of God have on our lives? How are we investing these gifts, and how are they changing our values? Jesus taught that it was more important to seek the Kingdom of Heaven than anything else:

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. (Matthew 13:45-46 NIV)

The Cost of Bribes

Proverbs 15:27

“He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; but he that hateth gifts shall live.” 

“A greedy man brings trouble to his family, but he who hates bribes will live.” – NIV

Same Script

Have you ever noticed how most crime dramas on television are the same, at least in the writing department? When we read in Ecclesiastes 1:9 that there is “no new thing under the sun,” it especially applies to television and movie plots.

One reason that it is hard to come up with anything new is because men keep doing the same things over and over again. The stories are all so similar in pattern because the template is ingrained in man’s fallen nature. He keeps falling for the same old tricks every time, like fish that never question a swimming worm.

One common story line involves a man who needs money, takes a bribe, gets caught, then brings his family to ruin. It varies, of course, but whether it’s a politician who takes a bribe in order to keep his career afloat, or a discouraged policeman who deals confiscated drugs in order to take care of his sick children, the end is always the same – trouble.

Doing What’s Right

It is not always easy to turn down easy money. Sometimes the offer can seem pretty tempting. Several years ago my wife and I were asked to hire undocumented workers in order to keep down the costs of a cleaning contract. We were told over and over, “They work hard for little money…everyone does it…no one will find out.” We could have saved thousands of dollars in labor costs.

Doing what is right, however, is more important than money. Greed is the downfall of many. What would have happened my wife’s company had been visited by federal agents? How many lies would she have been responsible for when she filed payroll taxes? What would have happened to our family of one of us had been sent to jail?

Even when times are at their worst, doing wrong, taking a bribe, doing it for the money, is never good for one’s home. Somebody down the line will pay for poor choices made.


The Perfect Gift

Proverbs 21:14 

A gift in secret pacifieth anger: and a reward in the bosom strong wrath.
A secret gift calms anger; a bribe under the table pacifies fury. (NLT)

I don’t recall receiving any secret gifts, or any bribes for that matter. I have been asked to pay bribes, the last time when going through passport control in a certain African country. The request for payment was not to pacify anger, but to smooth my way through immigration when I had already paid the official fee. But when should gifts be made to placate an angry person? The Bible provides some examples, although those I can think of were not made in secret.

There is the example of Jacob returning home with his family and flocks. Having cheated his brother Esau out of his birthright many years before Jacob was somewhat apprehensive about the sort of greeting Esau might have in mind when Jacob arrived on the doorstep. In fact, Esau had sworn to kill Jacob after their father died (Genesis 27:41). So Jacob sent flocks and herds ahead as a gift for his brother. As it happened Esau had already put the past behind him and had more than plenty. He was genuinely pleased to see his brother again, and to discover that God had blessed him.

Then there was the time that David sent his men to Nabal, the local rich man, to ask for food and water. Nabal read David’s men their fortune and told them to take a hike. When they returned to David he blew a fuse, and together with 400 armed men headed back to find Nabal and read him his fortune. While Nabal was a fool, he was married to a smart lady by the name of Abigail. She took charge of the situation, and headed off to meet David with more than enough supplies to feed David and his men (1 Samuel 25).

This proverb and the two examples from Scripture indicate that there may be times when gifts need to be made, and not only in secret. While there are times when a gift may correct a wrong, God’s people are encouraged to be generous. There should be occasions in all of our lives when a gift should be made for no other reason than to bring joy to another human being.

There is a gift that should be made in secret. It is the gift of our time when we choose to find a quiet place at the start of the day to surrender ourselves completely before God. We do so knowing that God’s anger at our failings was pacified when Jesus gave His life as the perfect gift. Such a perfect gift requires only one response. How do you express your gratitude?

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7 (NIV)


Perverted Justice

Proverbs 17:23

“A wicked man taketh a gift out of the bosom to pervert the ways of judgment.”
“The wicked accept bribes in secret to pervert the course of justice.” -NIV

What “They” Do

Bribes are bad, especially when truth and justice is perverted. That is the main point of this proverb. The wicked man takes a bribe in order to keep justice from going forward.

We’ve seen the movies, read the books, and may have even experienced the results in real life. We are all familiar with what the bad guys typically do. They take money to keep from testifying at a trial. They are given a little off the top to collect a little more from a debtor. They are paid to tell a lie in order to get another bad guy acquitted of a crime. That’s what bad guys do.

I once knew of a pest control company that was bribed to give clearance letters. Builders who wanted to save a few hundred dollars would give fifty to the owner of the company, and in turn he would give the builder a letter stating the new property had been pre-treated for termites. Justice was perverted because the new houses were sold with no protection from termites, and when they did come, the homeowner was usually convinced to pay a large sum to the same pest control company for a termite treatment.

These were bad guys, and that’s what they do.

What “We” Do

What many fail to recognize is the wickedness in their own hearts. It is so easy to judge others, but it is very hard to judge ourselves.

Have you ever given someone money for doing a small job, but then asked the person to not report the money on his tax return? Have you ever said, “If we do this ‘under the table,’ you won’t have to report it, and we’ll both be better off“? If you did, the law was skirted, and justice was perverted. Now who’s the bad guy?

Lord, help us to do what is right at all times, even when doing what is right cost us a little more. Help us to desire justice, not pervert it.