Why Try to Be an Exception?
THE thief who makes picking pockets his career is a highly trained specialist. He has taken great pains to become skilled in the use of his fingers, in observing human nature and in not arousing suspicions. Invariably he likes to think that he is more adept than all others in his profession. Should he be apprehended, he is not only embarrassed but often struck by disbelief: “How could it be that I should have been detected?” He well illustrates the human weakness of thinking that one is an exception to the rule.
Today picking pockets is being outstripped by crimes involving violence. But the conceit that marks the pickpocket is more prevalent than ever before. More and more persons engage in lawless, foolish, reckless or loose conduct, confident that they can get away with it, that they will not get caught or have to pay the price for their folly.
Among ancient Biblical examples that might be mentioned of those who thought that they could get away with it is that of Achan. When God’s time came for the Israelites to capture the city of Jericho, and they were warned not to take any spoil, Achan secretly seized valuable spoil and hid it in his tent. He thought that he would be an exception, that he could get away with it. But did he? No; Jehovah God was watching and saw to it that Achan was exposed and suffered the penalty, death by stoning.—Josh. 7:1-26.
Today, among those who think they are exceptions to the rule are gamblers. Plain reasoning should tell them that the gambler cannot win, that gambling houses make fortunes off gamblers. That is why some of them in Reno, Nevada, will charter planes and offer free rides to those who wish to come to gamble, knowing that the gamblers will lose far more than the cost of the plane ticket. Hostesses on these planes say that such passengers are more difficult to handle than the general run of passengers and that this is especially so on the return flights. And no wonder, for then they are frustrated because of having lost their money, having learned the hard way that they were not exceptions to the rule, that gambling does not pay. Learned? No, merely experienced, for they keep going back again and again to lose more and more money!
Among others who are equally foolish are those who drink alcoholic beverages before driving an auto. Only a shot or two of whiskey may put enough alcohol in their bloodstream to make them injudicious, reckless or careless drivers. Although car drivers are warned of this hazard time and again, what do we find? Ever so many think that they are an exception to the rule and, as a result, well over half of the 55,000 fatalities that occurred in 1970 in the United States as a result of auto accidents were due to the driver’s having had too much alcohol.
Then again, there are those who keep on smoking tobacco. Medical authorities in many lands are agreed that great harm results from smoking cigarettes, and more and more evidence along this line is accumulating all the time. As one of them put it, ‘Cigarettes are more deadly than germs, bullets or viruses.’
Recently Science magazine (May 14, 1971, pages 741-743) reported on tests made with young people who smoked cigarettes. As compared with nonsmokers, youths who smoked even less than a year made a poor showing as to the condition of their lungs. Bad effects were especially noticeable in those who smoked more than five cigarettes a day, and girls were harmed more by the habit than were the boys. And yet, in the United States, in spite of no more cigarette advertising on TV and radio, the first quarter of 1971 showed a 6-percent increase in cigarette consumption over the first quarter of 1970, for a total of 131.5 thousand million cigarettes.—Business Week, May 29, 1971.
Among others who might be said to be even more foolish in thinking that they are an exception are those who toy with sexual immorality and think that they can get away with it. They engage in flirting, petting or necking, and before long they find themselves involved in fornication or adultery; and more than that, may have contracted VD or be faced with an illegitimate pregnancy. Today both of the latter are increasing by leaps and bounds.
The Bible gives wise counsel to help you to counteract the tendency of imperfect human nature to try to be an exception to the rule. It tells us, “More than all else that is to be guarded, safeguard your heart.” Why should you do so? Among the reasons is that because of inherited sin ‘the heart is more treacherous than anything else.’ It will flatter you with the notion that you can get away with lawlessness or folly of one kind or another.—Prov. 4:23; Jer. 17:9.
Wisely and justly God’s Word warns: “Whatever a man is sowing, this he will also reap.” (Gal. 6:7) “The wages sin pays is death.” (Rom. 6:23) “Your sin will catch up with you.” (Num. 32:23) “The sins of some men are publicly manifest, leading directly to judgment, but as for other men their sins also become manifest later.”—1 Tim. 5:24.
What will aid you to take these warnings seriously so that you will not be tempted into trying to be an exception to the rule? One thing is the fear of God, for it is the beginning of wisdom and means the hating of what is bad. Certainly if you have the fear of displeasing God you will never deceive yourself into thinking that you can get away with something. It will help you to be careful and to exercise that fruit of the spirit, self-control.—Prov. 8:13; 9:10; Gal. 5:22, 23.
Also a great aid is setting the mind on the things that are virtuous, lovable, well spoken of and praiseworthy and being content with these rather than craving the thrills and excitement that go with questionable pastimes. As the Bible says: ‘Godly devotion along with self-sufficiency is great gain.’—1 Tim. 6:6; Phil. 4:8.