I have a friend whose elder brother is a Lutheran Pastor. He has had large communities in Illinois and in the South. As far as I can tell, he is a holy person. I am quite friendly with his brother and I know that the family has its foundations set firmly on Christian morality. This story may or may not be about Pastor W..., but it could be.
This came to me from Woody, Pastor W...'s brother, my immediate friend. My personal witness appears below the story. You are all invited to share your comments with our ParishWorld.net community.
Several years ago, a preacher from out-of-state accepted a call to a church in Houston, Texas. Some weeks after he arrived, he had an occasion to ride the bus from his home to the downtown area. When he sat down, he discovered that the driver had accidentally given him a quarter too much change. As he considered what to do, he thought to himself, 'You'd better give the quarter back. It would bewrong to keep it.' Then he thought, 'Oh, forget it, it's only a quarter. Who would worry about this little amount? Anyway, the bus company gets too much fare; they will never miss it. Accept it as a gift from God and keep quiet.' When his stop came, he paused momentarily at the door, then he handed the quarter to the driver and said, 'Here, you gave me too much change.'
The driver, with a smile, replied, 'Aren't you the new preacher in town? I have been thinking a lot lately about going somewhere to worship. I just wanted to see what you would do if I gave you too much change. I'll see you at church on Sunday. 'When the preacher stepped off of the bus, he literally grabbed the nearest light pole, held on, and said, 'Oh God, I almost sold your Son for a quarter. 'Our lives are the only Bible some people will ever read. This is a really scary example of how much people watch us as Christians and will put us to the test! Always be on guard -- and remember -- You carry the name of Christ on your shoulders when you call yourself 'Christian.'
Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.
Thank you, George. I have seen this come true in my life. Marc and Jo-El (my sons) have remarked about how I am serious about equal exchanges at the cash register. I have also had more than one cashier tell me that I was an exception in her experience when I returned a very small amount. One time when I was a cashier at a taco place in the Bay Area of San Francisco, I short-changed a person (a regular customer) without knowing it and she did not notice it.
When I noticed it, I hoped that she would come back. When two weeks passed and she had not returned. I started to ask other regulars if anyone knew her. Finally, one person told me that she was her office mate. I asked her if she would tell the lady that I wanted to return her money. She did tell her and the customer came back. She told me how angry she was at the error because she was thinking that I had slipped one by her. Upon hearing her story, my emotions gathered in my throat. I gave her not only the change but the full amount of the
transaction. She told that it wasn't necessary, but I said that the necessity to make her totally whole came from my conscience, not from her graciousness. I told her that I thought that it was my duty to reward her for her agida.
She laughed at my choice of words (New York, Yiddish). We shook hands and parted on good terms. Whether the rewards are human, or human and spiritual, I believe that the balance of justice hangs from God's hands, so I try to maintain it good in His view, even for picayune amounts. If not for spiritual gain, sometimes those small amounts make for good stories.
When I recounted this little story to George ("Woody"), he told me this in response:
"That's a good story. My wife and I just left the Abelson's (Albertsons) Store a few minutes ago. The person in head of us forgot to take her change from the automatic change machine - it was about 46 cents. I noticed it and told the cashier and bag boy. The cashier told the bag
boy the lady had just left the store - meaning, there was time for the bag boy to run and catch her; but, the bag boy paused for a moment, took the change and put it in his pocket. ' So it is with most people. After we left the store, I told my wife, "The kid was too lazy to run after the customer and of course, he wanted the change for himself."
The three stories above are simple. They carry within them a serious challenge. ParishWorld.net is not just providing you these stories for your email "forwards".
When you get more change than is what is rightfully coming to you, do you give it back?
Do you think that it is a sin to keep it? What if you make the situation worse by doing it in front of your children; is that a worse sin?
Let's talk about this. Share your thoughts about this with your fellow readers. Believe it or not, this is a serious subject. It's not just a quarter or a half-dollar, it is about a way of life. Do you believe that?
Do YOU live as though your life is the "only Bible that some people will ever read?" Do you expect others to do the same for you?