Truth pays

I went to the supermarket to do some shopping last week.

At the checkout i was asked if i wanted ‘cash back’ when i paid for my groceries with my debit card. I chose to withdraw £30. I was in a hurry so i didn’t really pay much attention as the cashier handed me my cash. I paid my bill, took my cash and pushed my shopping trolley to the car.

When i got home, i opened my money purse and discovered that instead of there being £30, there was in fact £50. I knew that there should only be £30 as i knew for a fact i had no money but a few bits of loose change in the purse beforehand i went to the supermarket.

I double checked the till receipt to make sure i hadn’t mistakenly been charged for the £50 withdrawal when i only wanted £30.

The till receipt said £30.

The next day the workmen turned up and began the rewire on the house…also a lot of stuff kicked off this week and then the car decided to burst it’s petrol tank…there were other worries and i pushed the overpayment to the back of my mind.

When mid week i discovered that our financial situation would deteriate still further, i have to admit that the thought of keeping that £20 was sorely tempting.

Perhaps some people wouldn’t have a conscience about keeping a £20 note that had been given them by mistake.

But i’m not most people.

I’m a Christian.

I tell the truth.

I knew i couldn’t get to the supermarket without transport and the kids off school and the rewire going on, so this afternoon, with the car back much earlier than anticipated, I knew what i had to do.

I just couldn’t get out of my mind that the cashier who gave me too much money may actually have been suspected of taking the money herself.

I went to customer services at the supermarket and explained what had happened and said that i had some money to give them.

The customer services rep was astonished by my honesty (to say the least). She had to ask a colleague what to do as she said people weren’t in the habit of giving money back and didn’t know the proceedure!

She telephoned the wages clerk and after a few minutes she said ‘You have been incredibly honest about this, but since the till added up at the close of that particular day, we can not accept any money back from you’.

It was then my turn to be astonished.

I really wasn’t expecting that!

I was so pleased i had done the right thing. Not because i got to keep the £20, but because I know that it was the right thing to do.

Of course, i worried afterwards that the cashier who had served me that day may have put money out of her own pocket into the till when she realised her error….or that worse still, i had now drawn attention to an error that she had made and that there would be consequences for her.

But I believe it was the right thing to do.

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22 Responses to Truth pays

  1. Holly says:

    Maybe it was your 20 all along and you just hadnt spotted it?

    I must admit, I would have kept it. I guess I am an opportunistic thief.

  2. Hector says:

    I guess it’s in the small and simple every day things that we demonstrate we are Christians. Very nice!

  3. Therese says:

    It is a good feeling isn’t it.

    This one time Steve and I got charged for only two packs of something we had bought four of, we went back and told the girl that had undercharged us. She was astounded too. It was good to restore her faith in humans.

  4. Mimi says:

    Absolutely it is the right thing to do. I am blessed to know you.

  5. Rosemary says:

    Good for you, Deb. Maybe the Lord just put the money in your purse.

  6. ukok says:

    Holly,
    I was sorely tempted to keep it! But the reason i asked for the £30 was because of my lack of funds. I can’t explain how it got in my purse if not for the cashier…and it was all folded up with the other £30 in the same compartment of my purse.

    Mimi,
    i am blessed to know you too (I have an an envelope all sealed here to send to you later this morning). I am thinking of you this day (((hugs)))

    Rosemary,
    well that is a totally new way of putting it….one way or another perhaps He just did do that!

  7. My dad once found a wallet stuffed full of money (really a lot) – he wasn’t a Christian – but he knew the right thing to do. There was a driving license in it – and so took it round- the man (young, with small kids) took the wallet – looked inside – looked up at my dad, and said “you restored my faith!”

    my dad came home and said something along the lines that he was an evangelist without even believing 🙂

    I was proud of my dad that day. And I am proud of you. It’s the little acts that bear witness.

    For the record I do believe in miracles. I think God may well have balanced the till for that cashier that night – but still gave you that opportunity to witness.

    Now remember that you have the opportunity to use 10% (your tithe) of that windfall as a way to bless someone whose need is even greater than yours.

    God is good and His goodness comes through you. Thank you for your testimony here 🙂

  8. Peter Deb's Dad says:

    very proud of you Debs

  9. Cathy says:

    Most admirable and…God IS Good!!!

  10. ukok says:

    Lorna, great story….i should have said of course that one doesn’t have to be Christian to be honest….i was merely speaking personally though.

    About the tithing. Well for what its worth, i’m returning a (to me) huge amount of money again today…I am requesting that it be donated to charity….it is 6 times what i was accidentally given at the supermarket….and despite it being rightfully mine , the insinuations i have endured about my being given it has led me to make a point of returning it….the point being that ‘it’ was never about the money.

    Dad,

    Thank you. Love you and thanks so much for yours and mums support. It’s your examples of honesty and virtue that have taught me, of course 🙂

  11. That is strange, but beautiful…and you did the right thing. Not only for yourself, but as an example to your children. We all know that they see what we do and they learn more from what we do than what we say!

  12. Carol says:

    Lorna, Catholics don’t tithe. We owe no man of God money. And none owe us any, either. Anything we contribute is supposed to go to whom it did in the first Church–the widows and orphans (the poor).

    IMHO, the Lord Himself was so averse to tithing to man’s mere religion, He didn’t make anyone cough up their hard earned bucks for another man — He had Peter the fisherman find and take it from a fish’s mouth–the very first fish, so that Peter wouldn’t labour too long for it, either.

    My daughter who can’t afford her daughter’s braces without asking the father for help, and who is driving a hunk of junk that won’t see out a whole year, and who gets health food store medicinals now and then rather than try to pay what doctors charge for a visit, let alone a prescribed med, and who had to let go the old woman she and her daughter was supporting through the Children’s and Aged Foundation, and along with her husband works all the time (and pays out $500/mo child support for one child of a remarried mom), not to even mention that they’ve filed for bankruptcy (for her, the second time) has — since she and new husband are Lutheran now — been worried about tithing!! She did the math with me, and wondered if she should include her husband’s bonuses, etc. Do you have any idea how ludicrous this all sounds to me?

  13. Carol says:

    Ps. sorry, Deb — I get so upset with people who cannot fathom that they can support anyone they want to in any way — then they can know just where their money is going. Our own long-ago Pastor suggested as a good rule of thumb regarding donating monetarily to the parish that we offer weekly the amount/equivalent of one’s hourly wage. (Of course, there are always extra collections, but if one doesn’t have it, one doesn’t have it. One’s family, as Mother Teresa said or inferred, is the poor in your midst.) I think it’s a grand idea, to donate the first hour of the week, both monetarily and prayer-wise.

  14. Carole, I am sorry that I’ve struck a nerve, and sorrier still that your daughter is in dire-straights financially. (I didn’t know Lutherans tithed by the way – they certainly don’t here in Finland!)

    If you look at what I wrote however I did NOT say that Deb should tithe the money to the church – I said (and I quote)

    “Now remember that you have the opportunity to use 10% (your tithe) of that windfall as a way to bless someone whose need is even greater than yours.”

    I said it was an opportunity (not a must) and to use it (give it) to bless SOMEONE WHOSE NEED IS GREATER than even Deb’s

    we all know there are people our there (more or less in our backyards) who aren’t able to get cash back, because they don’t have a card of any kind, who do not even drive “a hunk of junk that won’t see out a whole year” and actually struggle to buy toothpaste let alone worry about braces.

    I agree that the whole point about tithing is about giving of our own resources to help those in need. And for what it’s worth as Christians our family is more than our biological family – and I think that that’s what Mother Theresa was saying too – it includes those among us in our community who are suffering (and it includes the rich people too).

    It may well be that someone in your daughter’s immediate circle should be blessing her with their ‘wealth’ … it may well be that someone in Deb’s circle should be too, (and it may be that her new church’s teaching on tithing is wrong, I don’t know what they are saying or encouraging the church goers to do – or why)

    but that doesn’t give US the right to neglect the poor and bless them out of our own abundance (no matter how small it is)

    I’ve been so challenged this week because my daughter and I have so many clothes in our closets (we spend time deliberating what to wear!) and right here are international students and others who do not have a winter coat. I’m spending time wondering what to buy and cook (and struggling with weight issues) and at the same time there are those who do not know where their next meal is coming from. That’s not right or fair and needs to be addressed by US the ones who make up the church. We are the body of Jesus, his hands, his feet, his voice and his heart. (And yet so often we act as if the contents of our wallet are our own, and not his!) At least that’s what I’m being convicted of.

    Anyway,
    I’m simply trying to explain what I wrote to Deb … and I bless you for being honest enough to say that what I wrote triggered a reaction to the situation your daughter is in. Thank you.

  15. ukok says:

    Lorna,

    Catholics do view tithing differently than many denomintaions so thanks so much for clarifying your point. I think I understand better what you meant now. I actually thought the same as Carol did, but that was probably because i wasn’t paying enough attention when i was reading your comment 🙂

    (about my cashback…it was actually on a massivly overdrawn overdraft that i was drawing cash out AAAAARRRRRGGGHHHHHH 😉

    You make some very good points about it being our responsibility as members of the Body of Christ, to care for those less fortunate than ourselves.

    I would go so far as saying that we have a responsibility to curb uneccessarily extravagant spending to some extent or at least not to be prideful or boastful about what we have, what we do, where we go etc.

    While there is nothing wrong with wanting a reasonable standard of living, i think it’s verging on immoral to spend excessively and especially to ‘bragg’ about it.

    I find it hysterical that Christians even attempt to ‘keep up with the Jones’…or worse still, that they like to be thought of as affluent, influencial or of greater standing in the community than others. They indeed may be many or any of these things, but i don’t think it shows a single fibre of charitable spirit to boast about themselves or their position.

    Churches can be the worst places of all for this, and it is truly sickening to witness.

    It’s more than a bit hypocritical that we call ourselves Christians and yet so many of us are seemingly Christian in name only.

    Carol,

    I once watched a bit of a programme on a God type channel when i was at a friends house. I had to switch it off after less than 10 minutes had passed by (my friend wasn’t in the room with me at the time) as the speaker first warmed everybody up and then he bombarded the viewer with their obligation to give £10 of their earnings no matter what their financial status.

    ‘Trust in the Lord’ was the motto of the program or somehting like that.

    Like the rest of us who don’t or can’t afford to give 10% of our earnings, don’t trust in the Lord!

    At the opposite end of the scale i was talking tonight with a priest for a couple of hours and we got around to the subject of parish donations etc.

    I was so delighted when he said that even if someone puts a two pence piece in the collection plate he will never think badly of them or huff and puff about it, or talk about them to anyone else because for all he knows, that might be all the parishioner can spare at this time.

    The Widows mite and all that.

    We talked about the different ways of giving, that people give in ways that can not be counted or measured.

    Thanks to both you and Lorna for expressing yourselves so well.

    God Bless you!

    p.s. I will remember your family in my prayers.

  16. Karen says:

    Good for you Deb. I think you were sent this test. Given all the trouble you’ve had lately its like God is reassuring you that you still have the right stuff to do the right thing.

    God Bless

  17. “I was so delighted when [the priest] said that even if someone puts a two pence piece in the collection plate he will never think badly of them or huff and puff about it, or talk about them to anyone else because for all he knows, that might be all the parishioner can spare at this time.”

    This indeed is important. I went to one (awful) meeting once where the leader (not the preacher) said on one hand that it only cost 1€ to save a soul in (I think it was ) Uganda but in the next blurb (about the offerings) accused our city of being stingy and saying if we only had 2€ to offer then we weren’t to bother.

    The priest you were talking to got it a million times more than the one I heard – and those who encourage people to pay their tithes with a credit card even if they don’t have any money are way way out of line and not preaching the Gospel !!! ’nuff said on that.

    Thanks Deb for clarifying your position more … it’s interesting that this dialogue came out of what was rather glib comment on my part.

    What is an issue – IMHO- is the problem of personal debt. I almost wrote a paper on this in seminary last year, but in the end bailed out and wrote something easier and less controversial … but it’s something that is very much on my heart.

    I would like to see the church step in and start teaching sensible stewardship, model and teach saving until one can afford something, rather than standing by as parishioners buy more and more on credit AND I would also like the banks to become more responsible and stop choosing to lead young people into debt as a way of life. (They don’t know that credit costs, they don’t know that overdraft fees when they are no longer students will be cripling, they don’t know how to budget and save because quite frankly so many of our generation don’t know these things either!)

    This isn’t about you Deb (though by the sounds of it you’d got caught up in the debt trap too and I’m so sorry to read that) but IMHO it’s all gone mad (in the west) – we buy things that we only think we need – and we are -person by person, community by community, nation by nation – getting further and further bound up in debt – it’s like slavery to money and those in financing on both a personal level and a national /international level.

    And I think there has to be a better way.

    Sorry if this sounds critical of you (or Carole, or anyone else) – it’s not – we are facing exactly the same kinds of problems here too – it’s not meant that way. ok?

  18. ukok says:

    Karen,

    That’s an insightful way to look at these recent tests, both of faith and of character…one in particular i have failed, but i have admitted my fault in that and hope that the choices i have made since will endeavour to allow all involved to move on with our lives.

    Funnily enough a very understanding and supportive priest was telling me only the other day that it is human to respond to pain and upset with knee jerk reactions, but that the truth and test of a persons character is whether they choose to hold on to that pain and anger, or whether they will truly forgive those who have hurt them.

    He gave me a lot of much needed pastoral guidance, in the absence of any where i had expected to receive it quite frankly. So yes, i think… at least i hope that I do have what it takes to do the right thing when called to do so.

  19. ukok says:

    Lorna, i think you raise some interesting points that tie in well with some thing else i was gong to post about over the weekend, so rather than continue this here, i’ll take it to a new post where more people will see it.

    About the priest, you are soooooo right!

    That same priest i mentioned said that parishioners generally tend not to raise their objections verbally….they use their footpower to express themselves….by walking away.

    Hopefully most people who experience difficulties walk away TO another parish, and not away from God, as dissolusioned as they may be.

  20. Hopefully most people who experience difficulties walk away TO another parish, and not away from God, as dissolusioned as they may be.

    Indeed 🙂 our difficulties should cause us to run TO God and not away from Him or the church – and yeah I could write screeds about the latter but I’ll shut up for now

    Look forward to your next post. I’m glad you are back and writing things with ‘bite’ again 🙂 It’s GREAT!

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