Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you’ve been given too much change in a shop or supermarket? Has a big store forgotten to charge you for an item in your trolley, and you’ve realised at the time, or as you were leaving the store? Have you gone back to point it out, and felt secretly pleased with yourself that you’ve resisted temptation? I know I’ve done all of the above at one time or another. I thought I was too clever for the enemy’s tricks; at least in that area of temptation. But then, just as I was thinking I was standing firm, I nearly fell.
It was in Florida last year. My wife and I had bought a house there to spend the UK winter months in the sunshine. There was a lot of money to be spent in furnishing it and we were going from store to store to get it done. Then in Walmart, amongst a trolley load of items was a TV wall bracket costing about $100. When the total cost was announced I had a nagging suspicion something wasn’t right, and it happened again when the alarm sounded as we were on our way out. But no-one stopped us, and I knew all the items should have been scanned. It was only later that evening, when I decided to check the bill, that I spotted the mistake – the bracket hadn’t been charged.
To go back and return meant at least a 15-20 minute drive both ways, the hassle of waiting in line to return it, and the waste of time involved when I had so many better things to do. After all, it was Walmart’s fault. They’re a big company and wouldn’t miss it, and we had so many bills to pay. Those thoughts weren’t really my own, but I certainly entertained them! Finally, after a few weeks, my conscience wouldn’t let me rest, and I decided to go back and return the unintentionally stolen item (because that’s what it really was).
Waiting in the queue for the ‘Returns’ I felt the peace I’d been missing ever since it had happened. I repented of my action (or non-action). It was then that God spoke quietly to me and said, “This isn’t just about you. Watch carefully who I’ll put you with.” So, I did, and it was a young man. I told him what had happened and that I was a Christian and I had to return it, as it wasn’t mine. He looked slightly stunned and said, “many might say that but hardly anyone does what you’re doing.” He thanked me and I walked away with God’s peace and a sense that He was going to use what I’d done to touch that young man.
I know it’s been a long story, but here’s what I’ve learnt from it.
• No matter how long we’ve been a Christian we always need to be on our guard against the enemy’s schemes that can sound so ‘reasonable’. See today’s verse.
• Doing what we know is wrong, deep down, steals our peace.
• No sin is too small to prevent the enemy gaining a foothold.
• It’s not just about us, it’s about what God wants to do through that situation.
If you’re sitting on something you know you shouldn’t have, no matter how trivial, ask yourself firstly what would Jesus have done, and secondly, have you lost your peace? Then, whatever it is that needs to be done to put it right, do it, and say why you’re putting it right. That way God gets the glory. Then, after falling, let’s get back on our feet and stand firm.
Prayer: Lord Jesus please reveal to me anything that I have that I shouldn’t have. Help me to stop trying to rationalise it and allowing the enemy to gain a foothold in my life. Give me the courage to do the right thing, and to realise that it’s not just about me, but it’s about allowing You to use any opportunity to declare Your glory. Amen.
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