Summary: This sermon deals with the choices we make in life which rob us of other things.

Who Or What Are You Going To Cheat

10/26/03 NLF I Samuel 15:13-23 Luke 10:38-41

Let’s meet a few people today. Randall is the star football player on the team. Last week against Southside, Randall rushed for 250 yards, and scored six touchdowns in the 70 to 6 blowout of East River. If they win the next game, they are almost certain to make it to the playoffs. The only problem is the history exam. Randall has barely been academically eligible to play all season. If he fails the history exam, it’s the end of the season for him.

Randall didn’t bother to study over the weekend. On Monday he sees his friend John, and tells him on the way to history class, “John, you’ve got to let me cheat off you on your history test today. Just push your paper to the side and lean back. Man if I fail this test, I’m off the team and we never will make it to the playoffs this year.” John is a Christian. What is he supposed to do?

Karen likes Robert, and she has agreed to go with him to the movies on Saturday night. Robert is really crazy about Karen. This guy is in love, in love. They agreed to start just seeing each other. Now even though Karen likes Robert, Karen has always had a major crush on Dave who has never given her the time of day. The telephone ring.

Karen answers it. Stumbling on the phone is Dave. He says, “Karen, I’ve wanted to tell you for a long time that I like you. I’ve just been too scared to do it. I’ll understand if you say no, but would you please go with me to the movies on Saturday night.” What is Karen suppose to do with her earlier promise to Robert?

Ronald has a cleaning job. He is suppose to clean each night for five hours with a 20 minute break. The job is not that difficult. There is no one there to see what time Ronald comes in, and what time he leaves. His boss has given him flexible hours so long as he puts in the five hours. That week, Ronald wanted to get home early to watch the World Series, so he left early three of the five days. When he went to get paid, his boss looked at him, and said, “do I owe you for the full twenty five hours this week.” What is Ronald suppose to say?

Now John, Karen, and Ronald are all facing the issue of cheating. John-will he cheat to help a friend. Karen will she cheat to go after a dream. Ronald-will he cheat in order to get some money. Each one of them is faced with giving up their integrity to gain an immediate reward.

In our Old Testament reading, God had told Saul to destroy everything about the Amalekites. God’s judgment was on the Amalekites because they had attacked the children of Israel when they were weak coming out of Egypt as former slaves. Nothing of the Amakelites was to survive. King Saul however decided to cheat and save the best of the animals to sacrifice to God. He also left the king of the Amalekites alive to sort of show him off as his trophy. Saul cheated in his obedience to God, thinking he could somehow pay God off. His cheating cost him his anointing to be king of the nation. There is always a price to pay in cheating.

Andy Stanley, a pastor in Atlanta, recently wrote a book, Choosing To Cheat which indicates that all of us whether we know it or not, are cheaters in life. He pointed out that sometimes cheating certain people or certain things can be good. He defined cheating, as trading off one thing for something else.

Cheating in the negative sense of the word is a trade off. John was trading obedience to God, with a desire to help a friend, Karen was trading a commitment to Robert for a chance with Dave, and Ronald was trading being honest for few dollars. At that precise moment they could not have it both ways. Most times in life, we cannot have something both ways.

Now let me show you how we can positively cheat. If we want to lose weight we have to cheat our appetites. Our body has a normal built in mechanism to make us eat. It is called hunger. If we do not eat we get hungry. Just because we want to lose weight, it does not mean our stomach quits crying out. Feed me! Feed me! So we decide, even though this is a legitimate pain and call for us to do something, we are going to cheat it because we have a higher goal of losing weight in mind.

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