"I Saw Only the Gold"

It is one of those stories that (sadly) you see in the paper all the time.  Richard Harper was having an adulterous affair with Michelle Reynolds.  They were so deeply in “love” that they decided to kill Michelle’s husband Thad Reynolds so they coud be together.  So they did.  The 36-year-old father of four was stabled 19 times as he arrived at the Frito-Lay distribution center where he was a district manager.  There is no happily ever after for anyone in this story; both Richard Harper and Michelle Reynolds will spend the rest of their lives in prison and the Reynolds children will grow up without either parent.

What makes this story unusual is that all three were members at Hollywood Baptist Church.   Richard Harper was the associate pastor and Thad Reynolds was one of the deacons and did part-time marriage counseling.  The adulterous relationship began because of a church relationship; the murder co-conspirators and victim were all part of the same church family.  Don’t you think at some point someone might have thought, “Hey, this is wrong?”  Maybe before the adultery?  Or at least at some point during the adultery.  Or before the conspiracy?  Or maybe before the murder was actually committed?  How could these good Baptists get to the point where not only was adultery acceptable, but so was murder?  

I don’t know, but likely it was the same basic process that led the man after God’s own heart to commit adultery and murder.  David had an affair with Bathsheba and then murder her husband Uriah so that he could marry her.  Afterward, David was still pious enough to condemn the offender in Nathan’s fictitious story for “pet lamb larceny” and condemn him to death.  It wasn’t until Nathan pointed his long boney finger and said “Thou art the man” than David was knocked off his high horse and onto his knees.

I remember reading somewhere (Irving Wallace, I think) of a Chinese legend of the thief whoso dazzled by the emperor’s gold that he tried to steal it even though it was highly protected by armed guards.  The thief was easily arrested, and they asked him as he was carried off to a certain fate, “Why did you try to steal the gold when all of these guards were around?”  The man replied, “I didn’t see the guards; I saw only the gold.”

The murder of Thad Reynolds reminds us.  The sin of David and Bathsheba reminds us.  We can get so focused on getting we want that we start justifying and rationalizing until what we want to do somehow seems the thing we must do.  That can lead to things like adultery and murder.  And it can lead to a host of other sins as well.  If we are not careful, we can ignore all of God’s safeguards because all that we can see is the gold.