By now I’ve more than exposed my love of television, movies, and music, and the manner by which it tends to permeate a variety of ways I look at the world. Messed up as that might seem, at least for me – and perhaps more common to my generation – those were some of the most significant influences on me growing up. It’s an understatement of understatements to say that there were some incredibly iconic television shows during my childhood and formative years and certainly preceding them. None were more influential on me, perhaps than all the Looney Tunes brands. All the more, Bugs Bunny specifically. Without question, I can probably recite near-complete seven-minute episodes of the shows, which of course originated as content for previews or intermissions in movie theaters way back in the 1940s.
Anyhow, one particular episode got me both laughing and scratching my (bald) head this past week as I was doing my Bible reading from 1 Kings 7 – 15, 2 Chronicles 8 – 16, Psalms 134, 136, 146 – 150, Proverbs 25 – 31 and Ecclesiastes 1 – 12.
It was in many ways a memorable and classic episode in its own right, 1957’s “Ali Baba Bunny.” It includes numerous lines and quotes that many of us still recite today in reference to Bugs Bunny, probably not totally realizing they’re from this singular episode. In this edition, Bugs and Daffy are on their way to Pismo Beach, only to mistakenly arrive somewhere else to Bugs’ chagrin … “I knew I should have taken a left toin at Albuquoyquee.” They stumble upon the riches of a sheik, guarded by a dolt named Hassan (“Hassan chop!”). After Bugs and Daffy dispense with Hassan, Daffy takes over the riches and begins to wheel it away (where, we have no idea), only to stumble upon a dusty lamp that he figures can fetch “four bits on the open market.” As he dusts it off, naturally a genie comes out (because that’s what always happens when you dust off an old lamp) offering Daffy the customary three wishes. Believing that the genie was there to snatch his newfound wealth, Daffy forces him back into the lamp (no idea how, but hey, this is a cartoon, not real life – as though having a talkative duck and sarcastic Brooklyn-born rabbit needed any clarification).
In response to Daffy’s stingy and disrespectful rebuke, the Genie bursts angrily from the lamp threatening, “Stop! You have desecrated the spirit of the lamp. Prepare to face the consequences!” Daffy’s reply shrunk him to size, literally … “Consequences, schmonsequences, as long as I’m rich.” And yes, that entire story wraps around a short section of scripture that while brief is incredibly potent and profound. Proverbs 28:6 …
Better to be poor and honest than to be dishonest and rich.
I guess in some sense Daffy was relatively honest, but it’s clear he was willing to do anything to be rich. And yet, God’s word gives us a warning that carries broad applicability across a variety of heart-related desires even though it speaks specifically about our heart’s condition related to wealth. The crux of the proverb is effectively that while being rich is not in itself something evil or sinful, the push for wealth, the willingness to pursue wealth at all costs, to run over others, to cheat, to steal, to subordinate our values for wealth, is evil and sinful. And so it is for anything to which we are willing to say “consequences, schmonsequences.”
The Bible teaches that all things belong to God and that He alone determines wealth, success, and favor (1 Chronicles 29:10-13). So, setting our sights unwaveringly on a goal of our own determination is inherently putting ourselves in the role of God … and isn’t that the original sin propagated by Adam and Eve in the first place? And if so, then we have that same tendency, inherited through the millennia and over the generations … the propensity to say, “consequences, schmonsequences, as long as ____________.” That is, we have the disease, even though the target and effect may differ.
The fact is, there are always consequences. There are consequences to us of our sinfulness, and there are consequences to those around us (whether or not we are related to, or even know, them). In Daffy’s case, he was literally shrunk to a fraction of his original size, and forced to concede to a tiny pearl (in a clam, and both large in relation to his now-diminutive stature). Bugs also suffered consequences in the loss of his friend, the termination of his vacation to Pismo Beach, etc. Yeah, that part’s a bit of a stretch, but work with me. 😎
Anytime we pursue our gluttonous desires at the expense of “consequences, schmonsequences,” we and others suffer. We also rob God of what He most desires to do for us … to demonstrate and express His immense love for us. And in the process, we cheapen His love and His plan, and ironically, we choose in a suboptimal way, deriving for ourselves less than God would bless us with if we would only allow Him. Consequences, schmonsequences? Not quite.
My prayer for us this week is that we’ll pray … and ask God to reveal to us whatever it is we would fill in the sentence, “consequences, schmonsequences, as long as ____________.” Because whatever we fill in that blank, is what we’ve placed above God in preeminence and importance. It’s what we’ve traded the God and Creator of the universe for, and the lie we’ve allowed the enemy to serve up on a silver platter. All to fool us into a false sense of security, value, and eternal – not temporal – blessing.
Consequences, schmonsequences? Not so much.
Soli Deo gloria!