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Bitterness of Stolen Sweets

Today's Devotional

Food gained by fraud tastes sweet, but one ends up with a mouth full of gravel. Proverbs 20:17

Thieves in Germany stole a truck’s refrigerated trailer filled with more than twenty tons of chocolate. The estimated worth of the stolen sweetness was $80,000. Local police asked anyone who was offered large quantities of chocolate via unconventional channels to report it immediately. Surely those who stole the massive amount of sweets will be facing bitter and unsatisfying consequences if they’re caught and prosecuted!

Proverbs confirms this principle: “Food gained by fraud tastes sweet, but one ends up with a mouth full of gravel” (20:17). Things we acquire deceptively or wrongfully may seem to be sweet at first—seasoned with excitement and temporary enjoyment. But the flavor will eventually wear off and our deception will lead to our being left wanting and in trouble. The bitter consequences of guilt, fear, and sin can end up ruining our lives and reputations. “Even small children are known by their actions, [if] their conduct [is] really pure and upright” (v. 11). May our words and actions reveal a pure heart for God—not the bitterness of selfish desires.

When we’re tempted, let’s ask God to strengthen us and help us remain faithful to Him. He can help us look behind the short-term “sweetness” of giving in to temptation and guide us to carefully consider the long-term consequences of our choices.

When has temptation led to bitter consequences for you? How can you remain faithful to God?

Dear God, I need Your strength to fight temptation and remain faithful to You.


It might seem difficult to detect a theme to the proverbs in chapter 20, but theologian John E. Goldingay identifies one. Noting the difficulty of finding good examples of individual integrity, he points out that “openness is not common (v. 5), . . . and human evasiveness is difficult to penetrate (v. 15).” We must keep in mind that the Proverbs don’t always tell us how to live; sometimes they’re observations about life—for instance, “the buyer” who considers a product yet disparages its value in order to bargain for a lower price (v. 14). Solomon, who wrote many of the Proverbs, isn’t advising us to imitate this dishonest bartering tactic; rather, this is his observation of human nature. Goldingay suggests that verse 5 is key to understanding the chapter: “The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.”

By |2024-04-21T02:33:13-04:00April 21st, 2024|
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