Are We Cheaters By Nature?
By Rev Tan Eng Boo
I have been a bird watcher for about seven years now and I have always been fascinated by God’s wonderful creatures. Recently, I took a photo of a small female Iora bird (see photo above). As a surrogate mother she was busy feeding a large juvenile Cuckoo (Banded Bay Cuckoo) in Kranji. How can this be? Shouldn’t the Iora bird be feeding its own chicks? Why feed this big cuckoo chick? What has happened to the Iora’s chicks?
Cheating by Nature is the title I borrowed from a book written by Nick Davies and published in 2016. This book tells you how the female cuckoo will lay her egg (just one egg) in the nest of a host bird and the rest is history. Nick Davis writes:
“Did you know that the cuckoo is Nature’s most notorious cheat? It never raises its own offspring. Instead, it lays its eggs in the nest of other birds, just one egg in each host nest. Soon after the cuckoo chick hatches, it throws the host’s eggs and young out of the nest. Once the cuckoo chick has claimed the nest to itself, the host parents are tricked into spending their time in raising up a young cuckoo instead of their own offspring.”
How does the cuckoo get away with such outrageous behaviour? Well, that is for the ornithologist to tell you. You can also look up the term, “Brood Parasite”.
Cheating by nature
We are cheaters by nature. Humanity fits this description aptly. The 7th Commandment says, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” The world has lots of cheating spouses who commit adultery. Do you cheat on your spouse? Cheating comes in many forms and we are good at it. Jacob was a cheater (Genesis 27). The Olympic games is constantly filled with cheaters aiming for the gold medal by all means. Ben Johnson won the Gold Medal in 1988 Seoul Olympics but tested positive for the use of an anabolic steroid just a day later. “The lip of truth shall be established for ever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment” (Proverbs 12:19).
The Lord hates cheating and cheaters
In the Old Testament we are told: “A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight” (Proverbs 11:1). The Contemporary English Versions translates it as, “The LORD hates anyone who cheats, but he likes everyone who is honest.”
Leviticus 19:35-37 in the New International Version reads: “ ‘Do not use dishonest standards when measuring length, weight or quantity. Use honest scales and honest weights, an honest ephah and an honest hin. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt. “ ‘Keep all my decrees and all my laws and follow them. I am the LORD.’ ”
“You shall not have in your bag two kinds of weights, a large and a small. You shall not have in your house two kinds of measures, a large and a small. A full and fair weight you shall have, a full and fair measure you shall have, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. For all who do such things, all who act dishonestly, are an abomination to the LORD your God” (Deuteronomy 25:13-16).
The Lord hates cheating and cheaters. If you are dishonest, God sees you as an abomination in His sight. “A false balance is here put for all manner of unjust and fraudulent practices in dealing with any person” (John Calvin). A just weight is His delight. If you want to honour the Lord, don’t cheat.
In the New Testament we have the case of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-9). Ananias lied to the Holy Spirit (v.3) and was struck dead. His wife, Sapphira who conspired with him was also struck dead (vv.8, 9). They both tried to cheat God. God took a serious view of it.
Be an honest person
Cheating may abound in society, but Christians have to be different. We are new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). We are told to “walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8). We are also created in “the image of God” (Genesis 1:26, 27). The fowls of the air aren’t so. We have an image that bears the righteousness and holiness of God (Ephesians 4:24). For example, God is love, and God is perfect. Humanity shares many of God’s attributes and we were originally created to reflect God’s perfect character in righteousness and holiness. This is what we called the moral attributes of God which is seen in humanity even though they are distorted by sin. Birds and animals do not possess justice, grace, holiness and mercy. The cuckoo may cheat but we cannot afford to be like the “cuckoo.” In Numbers 32:23, we are told that, “your sin will find you out”. You cannot run from the consequences of it. Sin’s payback is hell.
Cheating by nature must never become a natural habit for believers in Christ. “But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints” (Ephesians 5:3).