Sunday, 13 May 2012

The Things the Lord Hates, Part 4

Photo Credit: Scott Cooper
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http://www.flickr.com/people/nimrodcooper/
In the last post in this series we looked at “hands that shed innocent blood” by way of crimes against the innocent young of society. Today I want to consider the other end of the age spectrum with “a heart that devises wicked schemes.” This is often played out against the widows and elderly in society, but anyone can be a victim of it. It is also the fourth thing on our list of things that the Lord hates.

I am sure that most of us have no use for heartless and self-serving people who prey on seniors and the elderly of society. That takes nerve. That takes wickedness. That takes a “wicked scheme.” What constitutes a “wicked scheme?” The word “wicked” really doesn’t need to be defined; we all know that it means bad, evil and sinful. The word “scheme” denotes a plan or a plot. Put the two words together, and a “wicked scheme” becomes a premeditated evil act against someone else. This the Lord hates! Before we go any further, though, let’s revisit the text and the list of “The Things the Lord Hates.”
“There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him; haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness that pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.” (Proverbs 6: 16-19; NIV) 
When I think of wicked and evil, I also think of the devil. The New Testament speaks of the “Devil’s Schemes,” that is, his sinister plots to entrap human beings. We see examples of this in 2 Corinthians 2:11 and Ephesians 6:11. People who also plot to entrap fellow human beings, I would argue, have the mind of the devil within them and are rightly called his children. In fact, the New Testament goes so far as to say that “He who does what is sinful is of the devil” (1 John 3:8). It’s no wonder the Lord hates “a heart that devises wicked schemes.”
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You devour widows’ houses … " (Matthew 23:14).
Photo Credit: Ben Rollman
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In 2009 a wicked scheme known as a “Ponzi Scheme” came crashing down around its founder, Earl Jones. He is now two years into an 11-year prison sentence. There is an interesting 45 minute documentary by the CBC's Fifth Estate "Earl Jones: In Trust." One of the troubling things I heard as I watched this video was that Jones would "meet with widows to manage their money." His scheme went on for over two decades in which he stole from the unsuspecting an estimated $51.3 million. Personally I think he ought to have received a higher sentence than only 11 years, but that’s another matter.

The ironic thing is that this allegedly happened right under the nose of one of Canada’s largest financial institutions, RBC, for which they faced legal action. Earlier this year they settled for $17 million, though they denied any wrong doing. No wrong doing? Really? Maybe it's just me, but I cannot imagine settling for any amount if I was sure of my innocence. Can we now no longer even trust that banks will watch out for those who would fraudulently steal the life savings of widows and the elderly?
Do we really have to go back to the mattress bank?
It all makes one wonder how some people can even live with themselves? I know it sounds harsh and judgmental, but maybe such schemers really are children of the devil. How could that which these con artists do be considered anything less than wicked?

Let’s take this one step further. What about those who do the same thing under the guise of religion? Pseudo-Christians, particularly those from the prosperity gospel camp, who dupe the unsuspecting into financing their lavish lifestyles, are they not essentially the same as the Ponzi scheme con artists? They both promise returns on investments, one from interest dividends, and the other from God.

The religious huckster ends up with just as lavish a lifestyle, and maybe even more so, than the wicked Ponzi schemer, as evidenced by this post. Is one really any worse than the other? Both “devour widows’ houses.” It is interesting that these so-called preachers of the gospel of Jesus Christ have such incredible wealth, and yet my New Testament says “but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head” (Luke 9:58). Let me see if I’ve got that right; Jesus has nothing by earthly standards, but those who preach about him live as royalty in king’s palaces? Hmm, yea, that makes a lot of sense.

In the end, the question isn’t even about earthly riches. The issue is not about being rich versus being poor. The issue is about those who “devour widows’ houses” by milking them of their life savings. The issue is about "a heart that devises wicked schemes." That is one of “The Things the Lord Hates.”

Anyway, that’s the way I see it.
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In Part 5 we will consider the fifth thing the Lord hates, "feet that are quick to rush into evil."

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