The Magic Stone
Monday, June 18, 2018
A bribe is like a magic stone in the eyes of the one
who gives it; wherever he turns he prospers.
Though set in Japan, Gilbert and Sullivan’s famous Mikado was actually a satire on British politics—which helps explain the character “Pooh-Bah,” the self-important holder of numerous offices (“Lord High Everything Else”) who offers all his services for a price. So when Nanki-Po (the Emperor’s son in disguise) asks about the woman he loves, Pooh-Bah calls it a “state secret.” Nanki-Po takes the hint and pays the bribe to learn about his beloved.
Whether in Britain or Japan, or anywhere else on earth, bribery seems to be the way things get done. Junkets for politicians, cars for athletes, kickbacks, hush money, “dollar diplomacy”—the list is long and the forms creative! And—stranger than strange(!)—Solomon seems to nod approval: A bribe is like a magic stone . . . !
But look again: . . . in the eyes of the one who gives it. Solomon means that those who give bribes believe that they will work. And truth be told, they often do!
But what does this have to do with everyday Christians? A lot! For one thing, it reminds us how tempting it is to get things done in worldly ways—to compromise our integrity, take shortcuts to success, or define success in worldly terms. We could pay people to come to church—but all that glitters is not gold, and all that “works” is not of God.
Welcome to Christ Church this Lord’s Day. Judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness, and according to the integrity that is in me (Ps. 7:8).
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