"Be sure your sins will find you out." That's what the Good Book says, and my mother quoted those words to me a lot while I was growing up. In fact, she once arranged for the public demonstration of this proverb. I'm just glad I wasn't on the receiving end of her righteous indignation.
I was in the seventh grade, and someone was habitually stealing my lunch from my classroom cubby. When I returned to retrieve my peanut butter and jelly sandwich each day, I would find the brown paper sack long gone. Now, my family was poor, so the daily robbery of my lunch was like stealing from my father's meager pay check.
My mother did what was expected: She complained, vigorously. Still, the thievery continued. That no one at the school seemed capable of correcting this wrong really sent her five foot, one inch frame into orbit.
So, she then did something unexpected; something I have rarely witnessed in her since I entered the world: She took matters into her own hands. Understand, my mother isn't a timid, wilting violet, but she is a rule-keeper. A legalist at heart, she plays within bounds. But not this time. My mother made a sandwich combining dog food with that greasy potted meat compost. Then, knowing the thief would only get a bite or two of this down, she sweetened the deal with a nicely baked brownie, Ex-lax being the main ingredient.
The thought of my good Christian mother orchestrating and executing such a devious plan of revenge made my teenage heart leap with joy. Enough of this mamsy-pamsy "turn the other cheek" stuff. Justice would finally roll down like the waters (or at least said justice would be expulsed from every orifice of the offender's body). Either way was fine with me.
On the Day of Judgment I placed my lunch in its usual location and went to math class. Later, when I returned to fetch it – to my sinister delight – it was gone. I nearly hyperventilated with delight. I watched the absentee roll for the next several days, and discovered that Dexter Wilkey missed three days in a row. When he finally returned to school, he was still a little green around the gills. Obviously, mother and I had our man.
When I reported this gleeful information to my Bible-reading, rule-keeping, daily-praying, no-card-playing and no-whisky-drinking mama, her eyes fired up. She cocked her head back and crowed that familiar proverb: "Hah! Remember this my boy; be sure your sins will find you out!" Yes, I reckon they will.
How is it that our wrongdoings always float to the surface? They are like the continual reincarnation of some bad horror movie villain. They just won't go away, or won't stay dead. Cheat on your taxes and lo and behold that's the one year out of thirty you get audited. Cheat on your wife and that will be the inopportune time she decides to investigate the extra charges on your Visa card.
Steal from your boss and expect a pink slip. Make purchases you never intend to pay back, and one dark night the repo man will be sitting in your driveway. It might take a while to catch up with you, but "catch up" is coming nonetheless.
Sure, some will get away with it – whatever "it" may be – but there aren't many. Call it sin, the inescapable justice of the universe, the law of karma, or bad juju – whatever. "It" has a way of catching up with you no matter what.
So what is the solution? Wave the white flag of surrender. Stop skimming off the till. Stay faithful to your spouse. Cut up a credit card. Be honest at work. Quit stealing little boys' lunches (Shame on you Dexter! I thought we were friends.).
It's never too late to do the right thing. Never. Unless of course you've got that brownie shoved half-way down your throat already. If that's the case, well, Godspeed brave soldier. Your sins have caught up with you after all.
Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, pastor, and author of multiple books. You can read more and receive regular e-columns in your inbox at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.