Extortion turns a wise person into a fool, and a bribe corrupts the heart. (Ecclesiastes 7:7 NIV)
The Bible says that money is the root of all kinds of evil, right? WRONG. What the Bible says is: the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:10 NIV). It is not money that is the root of all evil. It is the LOVE OF MONEY that is a root of all kinds of evil.
The Bible points to the desire of the humans that causes evil. All things are good until the desires of humans go bad. This reflection highlights three basic desires on which bribe turns on its power to corrupt humans as indicated in Ecclesiastes 7:7 (NIV).
A bribe has a certain power that corrupts the heart. The Hebrew word “corrupts” carries the sense “to destroy”.
The Hebrew word “heart” carries meanings like “heart, inner man, will, mind.” The phrase “corrupts the heart” speaks not of the physical destruction of the physical heart. A bribe corrupts the will, mind, and the inner man of the person. The heart carries the conscience of the person.
When the heart is destroyed by a bribe then the person loses the power to exercise properly his will, mind, and inner man. That is the corrupting power of bribe.
Below are three human desires that a bribe turns on to exercise its corrupting power.
Firstly, bribe turns on human desire for greed to destroy. Ancient wisdom says: “The greedy bring ruin to their households, but the one who hates bribes will live” (Prov 15:27, NIV).
Bribe is related to greed. Greed is gain made by violence, it is unjust gain, it is profit gained through dishonest means. Greed is the desire to gain more through dishonest means. Bribe is greed in action. Greed attracts destruction on the person and his entire family.
To gain is to have more; but to gain by greedy means is to bring more trouble. To gain more through the means of bribe is to attract more trouble for oneself and for one’s own family.
Bribe turns on human greed to exercise its corrupting power on humans.
Secondly, bribe turns on human desire for satisfaction to silence. Ancient wisdom says: “A gift given in secret soothes anger, and a bribe concealed in the cloak pacifies great wrath.” (Prov 21:14, NIV).
Anger is a sign that our desires or expectations are not met. When our desire is satisfied or our expectation is met, we are satisfied and we are no longer angry.
A bribe brings in a certain satisfaction.
Bribe has the power to silence anybody. Bribe has the power to calm people who may be so vocal, so that they do not say anything negative about the briber. A bribe brings in a certain satisfaction, and it can silence us when we are supposed to be a little more vocal.
When bribe turns on human desire for satisfaction, it can silence the harshest critic and soothe the mightiest opponent.
Thirdly, bribe turns on human desire for success to deceive. Ancient wisdom says: “A bribe is seen as a charm by the one who gives it; they think success will come at every turn (Prov 17:8, NIV). A charm is something that is alluring, appealing, magnetic.
Beauty and gain appeal to us. Ugliness and loss do not appeal to us. Success is one of those beautiful things that appeals to our desire to have more and better things.
Turning on human desire for success, a bribe brings in a certain promise of success. A person who accepts a bribe will feel that he will have more money and more success. A bribe turns on human desire for success to deceive humans.
A person who accepts a bribe sees the possibility of experiencing success with the bribe money that he receives. More money means more things to buy, more opportunities to explore, more opportunities to gain. A bribe brings in a certain promise of success.
So a bribe turns on human desire for success. A person who gives a bribe sees it as a lucky charm that will give him success, and he thinks success is something he gains at every turn.
Bribe turns on human desires for greed, satisfaction and success. When we accept bribe we are deceived by it, fooled by it, corrupted by it, and destroyed by it. No thinking person should ever accept a bribe.
By Dr Alpheaus Graham Zobule
Executive Director, Islands Bible Ministries