Treasures of wickedness profit nothing,
But righteousness delivers from death.
Proverbs 10: 2
Acting upon the old saying that crime does not pay, a team of criminologists once calculated the average profit earned by the average criminal committing the average crime. Based upon the monetary value of the crime divided by the length of the prison sentence, it was determined that Joe Bank Robber made only pennies per hour. A dozen bad guys working around the clock will not earn as much money as an unskilled farm hand shoveling a row of stinky donkey stalls. Ambition, said Shakespeare, should be made of sterner stuff and a fledgling sneak thief had better think twice about his career choice!
When I was a kid, a single dollar represented a tidy sum but five whole dollars was an absolute king's ransom. Any kid fortunate enough to pack an Abe Lincoln in his hip pocket was the talk of the town--or at least the talk of the tree house! Of course, this was back in the days when our old black and white television received only two channels and people drove massive automobiles with funny sounding names like Edsel and Studebaker. And what would a dollar buy in those golden days? Two cents would buy a cherry popsicle, a Snicker bar was just a nickel, and a big creamy scoop of Dipper Dan's double fudge ripple ice cream could be purchased at the counter for one thin dime! Any kid lucky enough to live in the good old days could rot his teeth with an overdose of candy and sweets for mere pocket change.
My little brother once had five dollars. He earned the money by mowing our neighbors' lawn. Our neighbors must have thought highly of John's work, for two bucks a lawn was the going rate back then. John was rich. He had earned that money by the sweat of his brow. I had not helped in the mowing of our neighbors' lawn, but though my brow was cool and dry, I was quite anxious in helping John spend that five dollars.
That evening, we took John's fiver to a small neighborhood grocer known for keeping a well-stocked candy counter. My brother was a scaled down version of the big time spender--a regular "Diamond" Jim Brady, jr. And while I cannot recall exactly how many sweets he purchased, I do remember that he put a considerable dent in the grocer's candy inventory.
Brother John has always been generous to a fault. Owing to his good nature, I could have asked for half his kingdom and he would have gladly given it, but I thought it would be much more fun if I tricked him out of his candy. I challenged him to ridiculous candy eating contests and invented games in which we both gobbled up mountains of gum drops, chocolate bars, licorice whips, lemon drops, peanut logs, and cinnamon jaw breakers. To my shame, I made a sport of eating as much free candy as my belly could possibly hold.
Of course, my poor stomach filed an official protest later that evening; I don't think I could have felt worse had my belly been full of rusty nails and broken glass and I passed a long, dreary night leaning over the rim of the toilet. King David wrote that joy comes in the morning, but I was unable to appreciate any joy for the many fresh attacks of nausea gripping my woefully queasy stomach. To make matters worse, my grandparents had promised to take us downtown for lunch and shopping, but I was much too sick to enjoy the outing. Poetic justice never tasted so sweet.
In today's proverb, King Solomon says that treasures gained by greed, dishonesty, and misconduct are of no value. King Solomon is right! For months after the famous candy binge, my stomach made a habit of rolling over and playing dead at the mere sight of a Snicker bar. There is no gain from bad behavior. Only grief. The proverb also says that righteousness delivers us from death. May I add that an ounce of good conduct might have spared me from a wretchedly miserable belly ache?
Dr. Michael Blunk is a staff writer for an apologetics ministry and serves full time as a chaplain with Wayside Christian Mission. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org