Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Count Your Blessings"1 (Lyrics)
James 3:12 – Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water. (ESV)
I went shopping recently and bought some chocolate and sticky toffee puddings for a quick Sunday lunch. I also bought a packet of sponge pot scourers to replace the worn-out ones that I use to clean the pots and pans.
When I got to the car, I checked my till receipt and found that I had been charged for two lots of sponges. Oh dear! I went back into the shop and claimed my money back from the cashier. I politely showed her the two lots of sponges next to each other on the till receipt and said that I was sure that I had bought only one packet. So, to keep me happy, she refunded the difference onto my bank card. Away I went, happy not to be overcharged, as occasionally does happen.
At home when I unpacked the shopping, I found that I had bought three packets of sponges. Beside the sponge pot scourers, the chocolate puddings and the sticky toffee puddings were listed on the till receipt as sponge puddings! Oh! the dawning awareness, horror, and ignominy of it.
Maybe I could keep quiet and say nothing and nobody would know? Maybe I could write it off for the next time that I was overcharged or in lieu of something faulty that had already happened?
I will not knowingly be dishonest, not for any moral highbrow reason, but rather because I know that it offends my Saviour. More importantly, I know that I have been set free from being held captive by the evil one for past failures, and I have been given a clear conscience — a precious gift.
There are enough issues to deal with, without adding to the foothold that this would give the devil again. I would be reminded of my guilt every time that I visited the shop. This is where the devil loves to play, to separate us from Jesus, through guilt, shame, and denial.
Knowing this truth, I went back to the shop with one packet of sponge puddings to be paid for. I made my way to the same cashier and waited for my turn to explain to her that it was not a mistake made by the machine, or her, but my mistake: mistaking the two packets of edible sponges for an extra packet of sponge pot scourers.
In seeing my embarrassment, she laughed, smiled, and thanked me for my honesty as I paid. If I had not gone back to the shop to tell her, she might have seen her supposed failure as a check against her self-confidence.
All it cost me was some pride and fuel. Ring any bells?
Prayer: Lord, thank You for being with us, even when we mess up. Grant us the courage today to be Your shining lights and, where it is possible, to make amends for our mistakes. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.