Proverbs 20:16-18

Take a man’s garment when he has given security for a stranger,
and when he gives surety for strangers, hold him in pledge.
Bread gained by deceit tastes sweet to a person,
but afterward his mouth will be filled with gravel.
Plans are established by counsel,
so make war with guidance.

There are some people who have two gifts. They have a very charismatic personality and a tremendous ability with words. They are able to string together phrases that are very convincing. They can weave stories that are so convincing, there’s seems to be no way that the story could be a lie. And because of their great personality, the words come across with great weight. So, you believe their story.

I’ve fallen for this a time or two. It’s so easy to believe someone who has a great story and the are a good enough actor to really pull it off. And I guess that because of the line of work I’m in, the volume of the stories I hear may be more than most. One of the stories that sticks out in my mind is a lady who brought her son into my office who very clearly needed a new diaper. The smell filled my office and the entire hallway of offices. She shared a story that I sympathized with, and I really wanted to help her. Fortunately I couldn’t. We didn’t do that as a church. And it turns out to be a good thing that I didn’t, as this is her shtick. I heard from another pastor that had a similar encounter with her. If I had her contact info, I may have turned her in to the proper authorities.

In the heat of the story I may have been inclined to give in to her requests, but with the advice of this proverb, I would have been able to avert this kind of situation. At least from being out the money forever.

When you don’t know the person, you need to make sure that you have collateral for whatever it is that you loan to them. And if you have a friend who is trying to get you to give money to a stranger, then you need to get something from your friend as collateral. Either way, you need to ensure that you have something you can cash in if you never hear from the stranger again.

Beware the good story and good acting. Chances are you’re being fooled. And all you’ll end up with is a stinky office.