Sermons

Summary: There is a Fraud Triangle at work in all of our lives. The only way we can get out of it is by intentionally turning it into a Grace Triangle. Is that easy? Let us find out.

When I Fall

Main passage: Micah 7:1-9

How many of you have School going Children? If you get a call from the Principal to come and see him/her what will be your reaction? So here are the parents who get such a call from the Principal. With fear and trembling they reach the Principal’s office and sit in front of her. She gravely tells them, your son has a problem. He steals pencils and erasers, and sharpeners from his class mates. You got to do something about it. The fathier is naturally shocked. And in his shocked state of mind he tell the Principal. “Madam, I am so sorry that he is doing this. I really do not know why he should do such a thing. Because all that he needs, actually much more than all he needs, I can bring from my office and give him”

You get the point? We live in a culture where Integrity is grey, not black and white? We live in a culture that takes a “chalega” attitude to small breaches of integrity, we live in a “Swalpa adjust Madi” culture.

People ask me what my biggest concern is about leadership in India, and my answer always is personal integrity. Yes that is the biggest worry that we have today.

Why is Integrity such an important topic for us to discuss today. A study by the Psychology Today Magazine revealed that each of us lies in 20% of social exchanges lasting 10 or more minutes. In one week alone, 30% of us deceive others in one-on-one interaction 10% of lies were exaggerations, 60% outright deceptions, But MOST were subtle lies, often of omission. AND even though an average of 1 out of 7 of lies is uncovered, more than 70% of liars surveyed said they would tell their lies again. Micah 7:2-4 (NLT) describes the current situation beautifully. “The godly people have all disappeared; not one honest person is left on the earth. They are all murderers, setting traps even for their own brothers. Both their hands are equally skilled at doing evil! Officials and judges alike demand bribes. The people with influence get what they want, and together they scheme to twist justice. Even the best of them is like a brier; the most honest is as dangerous as a hedge of thorns.” Don’t you think that is the current situation? Have you read about the controversies surrounding the Lokayukta in Karnataka? The Lokayukta is an office set up exclusively to prevent corruption in public offices and govt. Instead what we read daily in the newspapers is the corruption that surrounds that office itself. Officials and judges alike demand bribes. The people with influence get what they want, and together they scheme to twist justice, said the prophet thousands of years ago. How well that description fits even today.

The sad part is that the church, the body of Christ, itself is not free from this malice. Current situation in the world churches match with the words of the Prophet Jeremiah From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit. They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. Peace, peace, they say, when there is no peace. Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush – Jeremiah 6:13-15. A research done on the current church situation reveals that many people in the church either ignore or accept corruption and dishonesty in the church and Christian organisations. The study estimates an embezzlement of $16 billion dollars (Close to Ten thousand Crore Rupees) by the world's Christian Churches in the year 2000 while the annual spend on world missions is just 15 Billion. You get the math. More money is embezzled by church leaders than what is spent on spreading the word of God. There are Litigations and Power struggles within churches and denominations. Some of you might have heard about the ongoing litigation between two factions of a rich church in Kerala. Bribery, misappropriation of funds and property, witch-hunts of whistle-blowers, and numerous court cases are common. 84% of Christians and church goers surveyed agree that the issue is real.

So why do people become dishonest? What causes dishonesty and lack of integrity? Business firms, auditors and HR professionals talk about what is called as The Fraud Triangle ( A term first coined by American sociologist Donald R. Cressey). The theory is that Fraud or corruption or dishonest actions happen because of three aspects Viz; Motive, Opportunity and the Rationalization of the Act. Let us take some examples and see if this is true. Let us start with the fall. When Adam and Eve sinned for the very first time, there was an “opportunity” created by God telling them that they should not eat from one particular tree. God’s purpose in creating that opportunity was to give them a chance to demonstrate obedience not through coercion but through freewill. Else God could very well have hidden the particular tree from their sight. So there was the “opportunity” side of the fraud triangle there. There was actually no real “need”, but Satan willfully created a need in them, making use of the opportunity. He created a need in them by promising them that if they seize the opportunity they will be “like God” being able to discern good from bad. Genesis 3:6 (NLT) The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. Thus Satan adds the “need” side of the fraud triangle. Then we see that once the act was committed, Adam rationalized it saying that he did it because “the woman” asked him to do. Eve rationalized the act by saying “the serpent deceived me”. There we the completion of the Fraud Triangle in the very first dishonest act, the fall itself. There was an opportunity, Satan creates a need, or brings out the latent need, the act is committed and then rationalization follows.

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