P.T. Barnum said, “A sucker is born every minute.” I think he was wrong. I think a thousand suckers are born every minute.
How else do you explain the success of the lottery?
You have a better chance of being struck by lightning than of winning the lottery. Yet millions of people (many of whom are in financial trouble) slap down their hard-earned money every week to buy tickets. They actually believe the absurd advertising campaigns that states come up with, such as New York’s ridiculous slogan: “All you need is a dollar and a dream.” Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, said that state-run lotteries often employ a level of marketing so deceptive it would probably lead to criminal charges if practiced in the private sector.*
And yet millions of people keep falling for it.
In Scripture, Samson stands out as a big sucker. Delilah, who was half his age and twice as sneaky, launched her own little deceptive marketing campaign. She “advertised” her affection for him with snuggles and backrubs and probably some other things that are better left unmentioned. And he bought it all with the enthusiasm of a hungry largemouth bass chomping down on a dancing Jitterbug. With Cupid’s arrow firmly planted in his behind, he told her everything she needed to know in order to crush him.
It’s sobering to think about, but we’re all one bad decision from being crushed. Satan knows this and is constantly trying to sucker us into making bad choices. The apostle Paul acknowledges this when he warns us to beware of Satan’s “strategies and tricks.” (Ephesians 6:11)
There are many attributes we admire and covet, but few are more needed than discernment. Discernment is the ability to see past the shiny lure and spot the treble hook hidden behind the feathers. It’s what keeps you from being a sucker.
For further reflection read Psalm 119:125, Proverbs 11:9, 14:12, 23:22-23.
*Mike Huckabee, From Hope to Higher Ground (New York: Center Street, 2007), 122