The Cost of Free Money
If you found $5 on a deserted street, and no one was around to give it back to, I bet you would pocket it. I know I would. But if you saw that money falling from someone’s pocket, would you respond the same way? Here’s another scenario. I got to the car and realized the cashier forgot to charge me for a significant item. It’s the moment of truth. What do I do? Should I go in and show them and give up a big chunk of money? Or, should I revel in my good luck, realize they made the mistake, but rationalize that they overcharge me for goods I usually buy? Do I tell myself the item will probably go on sale soon, or this will make up for all the times they made mistakes in their favor that I didn’t catch?
So I walked in, showed the clerks my receipt and the item, and let them know I thought they made a mistake. Well, the sales clerks started thanking me profusely. They were amazed and said they had never experienced anything like this – ever. The store had no idea the problem had occurred. They wondered why anyone would come back and pay for items that they could have kept for free. Good question.
Please know I’m not sharing this to blow my own horn. Many more embarrassing episodes have happened in my earlier days when I hid mistakes that were in my favor. I share it as a reminder that situations like this are opportunities to impact the world, and more specifically, to be salt and light in other people’s everyday lives. Since they asked me, instead of giving the “aw shucks, anybody would have done it, it’s just the right thing to do” line, I had a chance to tell them the reasons for my choice: the Bible says don’t steal, and I want to follow God’s commandments; I trust God to take care of all my needs, and that includes financial ones. If I steal, I’m telling God He’s not very smart or good at His job … that I know how to do His job better than He does by finding an answer He didn’t know about.
Satan will sabotage us at every opportunity if we let him. He’ll tell us we don’t need to take responsibility for a mistake, that we deserve a free ride, that no one will ever know, that this makes up for the times we got “cheated,” or even that God has forgotten about us and our needs, so it’s time to fend for yourself. We get to choose whether to take home stationery supplies from work, to copy music and movies illegally, to use pirated software, to pocket a pack of gum, or to keep library books. You see, stealing is really robbing yourself more than robbing others. At the heart of each decision we make is the opportunity and option we have to worship and bring glory to God – or worship and bring glory to ourselves instead.
Today, take a look at the little things that are part of your life. Do areas exist where you are trusting yourself and not God to meet your needs? You know, cheating? Hopefully, you’ve learned to make better choices, actually doing what you’re preaching and expecting from others. But if not, are you willing to admit to making a poor choice? Will you confess, and un-do some choices? Remember that the God who loves you is the God who forgives you. He promises to supply all your needs. His promises are good and trustworthy; they never fail. Whether you honor Him or you honor yourself is your decision, so choose well.
Dear God, You know me well. You know it’s sometimes hard for me to talk about You to others. Any boldness I have comes from the Holy Spirit. Without Your Spirit in me, I would be unable to share who You are and what You’ve done for me. But with Your help I’m learning. So I thank You for teaching and encouraging me. Please give me more opportunities to talk about You. I want to make You the biggest and best thing in my life. Help me to step up and do the right thing because You made me and know exactly what actions will grow and fulfill me. I pray in the name of Jesus, who was all about bringing glory to You. And all God’s children say – AMEN!
Give glory to the LORD. In the lands beyond the sea, praise the name of the LORD, the God of Israel. Isaiah 24:15
Praise him for his mighty works; praise his unequaled greatness! Psalm 150: 2
I wash my hands in innocence, and go about your altar, O Lord, proclaiming aloud your praise and telling of all your wonderful deeds. Psalm 26:6-7
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