February 21, 2014 by Chris French
Unjust gain: hurting someone so you can profit from it.
The Bible is full of people who have hurt someone so they can profit from it. Let’s go thru a couple of stories.
Adam hurt Eve when he threw her under the bus by laying the blame for eating the fruit on her. He profited from her pain because it took the focus off of him, at least that’s what he thought. Jacob already had Esau’s birthright, but he also wanted the blessing that was to be Esau’s so he deceived his father and stole his brother’s blessing. Laban deceived Jacob and made him work another 7 years for the daughter Jacob thought he just married thus gaining his most industrious shepherd. Joseph’s brothers padded their wallets by selling him as a slave. Miriam and Aaron attempt to take leadership of Israel away from Moses gaining a position of power for themselves. Korah, Dathan and Abiriam attempt a similar feat on a larger scale. Delilah is paid off to exploit Samson’s weakness. Amnon rapes Tamar obviously hurting her, but getting what he wanted in the process. Absalom steals the throne out from under David. Haman hates Mordecai so much that he makes plans to wipe out every Jew in the country thus gaining a reprieve from Mordecai. The Pharisees kept the money set aside for their parents for the own purposes leaving their parents to fend for themselves. Judas sells Jesus out to make a profit.
With this many examples surely we can learn something about how to recover from the desire of unjust gain. First thing first, we need to realize that the person we’re exploiting is just in the wrong place at the wrong time. I think we try to justify benefiting from hurting them by assaulting their character. They are such a bad person they deserve what they’re getting! Let’s be honest with ourselves. If we were to put “unjust gain” into terms we use today “rape” would probably be the closest fit. You’re satisfying your desires at the expense of someone else. Let’s stop lying. The people we hurt so we can benefit from don’t factor into the equation at all. They’re victims.
As you work your way out of unjust gain you not only need to see the truth about what you’re doing, but you also need to see the consequences of unjust gain. Go back thru the list in the first paragraph. You read 12 stories of unjust gain. Out of those 12 people five of them died because of their unjust gain. Judas couldn’t live with the guilt of selling Jesus so he hung himself, Absalom found out about Tamar’s rape and killed Amnon, Joab found Absalom during battle and killed him for taking the kingdom, Haman was hung on the gallows he built for Mordecai and Korah, Dathan and Abiriam were killed in an earthquake during their rebellion caused by their desire for unjust gain. Every other person on that list that benefited from causing pain to someone else derived significant consequences from their actions! You can hurt others to get what you want, but there WILL be consequences and they WILL be more than you’re willing to pay.
To completely rid ourselves of the desire to hurt others so we can benefit ourselves we need to look at one woman who did the opposite of unjust gain. They blessed other people even though it hurt them. When her husband died and Naomi is ready to go back to Israel Ruth follows her. The events in the book of Ruth happen during the 400 year period when Judges ruled Israel. During that time relations between Moab and Israel aren’t friendly and they have never been. Israel doesn’t like outsiders, but they’ve got a grudge against Moab because the king wouldn’t let them pass thru his land to get to Canaan when they were coming out of Egypt (Judges 11.12-28). So when a young Moabitess takes up residency in their city the Israelites I’m sure at the very least she had problems making friends, but from Boaz’s worry about her safety I’m betting it was much worse. Following Naomi back to Israel cost Ruth a great deal, but it obviously blessed Naomi so she’s got something to teach us about recovering from unjust gain. The Bible doesn’t tell us why Ruth stayed with Naomi, but if you read between the lines you can get a pretty good idea. When Naomi tells her to go home Ruth says that wherever Naomi is, is where she wants to be. Nothing but death was going to separate Ruth from Naomi (Ruth 1.15-18)! It sounds like Ruth loves Naomi to me. Her actions certainly back that idea up! Her actions bless Naomi at the cost to herself. That’s love!
If we’re caught up in unjust gain we’re selfish. I want what I want and if I have to hurt you to get it that’s more than okay with me. That’s the opposite of love! So how do you recover from the pit of unjust gain? You focus on selfless actions. You do things that benefit other people even if you have to pay the cost. This has consequences too. You’ll begin to see the effect you can have on the people around you and that’s more addictive than the promised pleasure of unjust gain ever was. You’ll notice a transformation in yourself. It will be a battle, but blessing or hurting others to benefit yourself is a choice.
This week on the blog we’re looking forward to this Sunday’s lesson. We’re in a great series right now called Straight Talk from Proverbs and each week Kerry speaks from a different Proverb. We’ve covered Adultery from Proverbs 5, Relationships from Proverbs 3 and Trust from Proverbs 3. This week the topic is Unjust Gain from Proverbs 1. If you missed the first three in this series I would highly recommend you taking the time to listen to them this week. The links have been provided.