A story recently published in a North Carolina newspaper recounts the tragic circumstances of one Rae Carruth. Carruth was a star football player at Colorado University in the late 1990s. He was drafted into the NFL and enjoyed some early success before injuries seemed to sidetrack his career. But behind the scenes, Carruth’s life was a lagniappe of deceit, indulgence, arrogance, and disaster. His dalliances with drugs, his abusive behavior toward women, and his mismanagement of money were not shocking, but the depth of depravity these problems drove him to cost more than one life. Today, Carruth is incarcerated (though scheduled for possible release later this year), after being found guilty of hiring the murder of his pregnant girlfriend in an apparent attempt to abort the birth of his child. The child was born after its mother was shot, but also after having been deprived of oxygen for more than an hour. Rae Carruth’s son, today 18, has cerebral palsy, and is being raised by his maternal grandmother, who continues to fight off repeated legal attempts by Carruth to gain some element of custody or visitation rights, albeit, for now, only through prison visitation. So far, she has managed to keep Carruth’s son away from his father.
What’s notable about this story? Almost nothing. It simply illustrates, perhaps more vividly than others, the charming nature of sin. Temptations for Rae Carruth made irresistible the desire for money, women, pleasure, and attention. He was convinced he deserved these things because of athletic prowess, and his drunken pursuit of life’s indulgence led him to the point that on more than one occasion he considered murder an acceptable option to any obstacle that stood in his way. Today Carruth has taken responsibility for the death of his mother’s son, writing in a letter and speaking in an interview of his complicity in this tragedy. The mother, who died a month after the shooting in 1999, provided irrefutable testimony of his guilt in a 911 call before she died.
The Bible is full of characters like Rae Carruth. Remember Samson? A judge sent to deliver Israel, of amazing strength, but with a glaring blind spot: women. Many a man has been led astray by the pleasures of women (Proverbs 7:21ff).
Remember Saul? The first king of Israel, selected by God, a strapping young soldier, but one whose demeanor and attitude changed almost as quickly as the crown was placed on his head. Power and influence cause people to take extraordinary steps, sacrificing their families, their homes, their marriages, their reputations,… their souls.
Remember Judas? One of the twelve chosen by Jesus, but a man so obsessed with greed that he stole from the pitiful amount of money that was kept in the money bag for Jesus and His disciples. And whose greed reached such a point that he was willing to betray Jesus for a ridiculous sum of money, and would have probably done it for less. How many have brought shame and disaster to their lives, their homes, and their families because they are so greedy they will do anything to obtain more? Such greed brings the anticipation of a life of sorrow (1 Timothy 6:9-10).
These characters are presented in scripture as a testimony to anyone who reads about them. The testimony is this: we are all capable of just such actions when we are captured by the charm of sin.
But the Bible also presents something that ought to get our undivided attention, something we ought to be charmed by. Notice:
The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness. – Matthew 6:22-23
Singular concentration is a human possibility. Spiritual success hinges on whether that concentration is properly focused. If we are focused on the right things – figuratively and literally – our whole being can be filled with light. But if our focus is on the wrong things, we will be filled with darkness.
Don’t you think Samson wished he’d never met Delilah? Do you believe Saul wished he had never seen that crown? Can you imagine the regret of Judas over his anxiousness about such a pitiful sum of money? Do you think Rae Carruth, alone in the darkness of his prison cell, wishes he’d grown up to be a handy man or something similar, instead of a famous athlete? All these men were charmed by the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:13). And it destroyed them, and can destroy all of us if we are charmed by it, and experience the real havoc that sin can wreak in human lives.
My grace reign in your life through righteousness.
– Bo Couchman