“Say It Ain’t So!”

That was the headline of the Chicago Tribune on Thursday, February 12. It referenced the news that the Jackie Robinson West Little League team was stripped of its National Championship title because the adult leaders of the team “knowingly violated Little League International Rules and Regulations by placing players on their team who did not qualify to play because they lived outside the team’s (district) boundaries.” They were accused of using a falsified boundary map for their 2014 tournament team. The leaders cheated and it cost the kids the great joy they had brought to themselves and to the South side of Chicago. So very sad…

Wes Stafford, former president and CEO of Compassion International, once wrote of his experience growing up as a Third Culture Kid on the Ivory Coast. His folks were missionaries among the Senufo tribe; a people of hunters, fishermen, and farmers. Every Wednesday he and his friends would walk into a nearby village for Market Day where the different tribes would buy each others’ goods. A tribe of craftsmen would always arrive early and set up their kiosks under the shade of a grove of mango trees. This shade was a luxury as the temperature in the sun would often reach 120 degrees F. Unfortunately, these craftsmen were also “crafty” in other ways and would try and sell cracked and split wood carvings which had been filled in with wax and covered over with shoe polish; the defects hardly noticeable to the unsuspecting eye.

However, Stafford and his friends had watched the adults shop and had learned from them. They would always ask in French, “Est-ce sans cire?” Literally, “Is this without wax?” “Is it sincere?” Of course the shop-keeper would always fake being insulted, but then the discerning customer would threaten to take the carving out in the sunlight for a closer look. The craftsman would suddenly become very gracious and offer a special deal on something else lest the sunlight melt the wax revealing his insincerity.

Where are the sincere and honest leaders; not perfect, but honest? Where are those genuine women and men who look the same in the sunlight as they do in the shade? Where are the authentic newscasters, dads and moms, and coaches of Little League teams who impart to their children true character and not one that “melts from scrutiny and drips with deception.” (Stafford)

“I will walk with integrity of heart within my house” (Psalm 101:2). Oh God, help me to be that kind of person; a man without wax.

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