“Your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).
NOW AND THEN WE ALL MAKE A SERIOUS MISTAKE: WE SACRIFICE OUR PRINCIPLES IN ORDER TO GAIN SHORT-TERM SUCCESS. We take short cuts. We go for quick fixes. We try to succeed using nothing but the smoke-and-mirrors techniques of personality and persuasive speech. Rather than do the hard, time-consuming work of building godly character and doing what is eternally right, we succumb to the tempting appeal of things that have a more visible payoff in the short term. But while it’s possible to utilize personality rather than principle (for a while, at least), we ought to be more attracted to the benefits and joys of long-term reality.
Don’t we understand that the deficiencies and drawbacks of our short cuts will come back to haunt us? Our sins will surely find us out. No matter what we’re doing, if we leave the Lord and His principles out of our calculations, our projects will fail sooner or later. “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain” (Psalm 127:1). God can’t be safely ignored.
Some people, it’s true, are amazingly clever at getting what they want in the short term, with seemingly little attention paid to the principles of long-term reality. And for those who’re not as naturally adept at these things, our bookstores are filled with volumes on self-help, psychology, and communication skills. Getting what we want is reduced to the relatively simple matter of networking, making the right moves, communicating effectively, and of course, dressing for success. We are a deeply superficial people.
But in the absence of genuine godliness and deep-down integrity, none of the successes gained by these techniques will stand the test of time. God sees behind our personalities, and if we only knew it, most other people do too. Eventually the Law of the Farm will prevail: we will reap as we have sown. Despite our wishful thinking, there is no short cut to any harvest worth having.
“In most one-shot or short-lived human interactions, you can use the Personality Ethic to get by and to make favorable impressions through charm and skill and pretending to be interested in other people’s hobbies. But eventually, if there isn’t deep integrity and fundamental character strength, the challenges of life will cause true motives to surface and human relationship failure will replace short-term success” (Stephen R. Covey).