Honesty Doesn’t Pay

Honesty Doesn’t Pay July 16, 2013

The old woman stood in the longest line at the grocery store. She had nothing in her hand but her purse. When she finally reached the front, she opened her purse, took out a $20 bill, and said to the cashier, “When I was here earlier you gave me $20 too much change. I got all the way home on the bus before I realized it, but I came back as quickly as I could. I hope you didn’t get in any trouble.”

The young woman behind the counter looked totally surprised, took the money, and thanked her. The hipster behind the old woman said, “That’s right! It pays to be honest.”

The old woman looked at him and said firmly, “No it doesn’t! It just cost me $20 and 45 minutes on the bus, plus roundtrip fare. I didn’t bring the money back because honesty pays; I brought it back because it was the right thing to do.”

The old woman was compelled to do what was right despite the cost to her. What is it that compels your life and determines your lifestyle?

I know that compulsions are often negative things, yet it seems that we all have our obsessions and compulsions. A compulsion is an irrational need to perform some action, often despite negative consequences. Perhaps that is what it means for us to say, “Jesus is Lord.” We volunteer for our lives to be compelled by the vision and values of Jesus.

“Jesus is Lord” was the first Christian affirmation. Early Christians were people of the Way of Jesus. The values and lifestyle of Jesus compelled their lives. It compelled many of them to die for their faith. They didn’t die for doctrine or theology or artificial piety. They were killed because when they said, “Jesus is Lord,” they were compelled to act like Jesus no matter the cost.

If following Jesus isn’t costing us something then what does it mean for us to take up our cross and follow him?

by Michael Piazza
Co-Executive Director
The Center for Progressive Renewal


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