Jennifer raced home from the ice cream stand. She skipped and hopped and would have turned somersaults, but she didn't want to spill her snowcone. She had saved money all week for this triple tutti-frutti treat, and now she had enough money for another snowcone the next day! The girl at the stand had given her too much change!
When Jennifer bought a snowcone the following day, she felt guilty and didn't enjoy the treat as much as she thought she would. But . . . after all, it's not my fault I got too much money back, she reasoned. It's not like I stole it! She eased her conscience with that thought. However, in the following days, she was uncomfortable each time she went near the ice cream stand.
As Mom read the paper a week later, she gave an exclamation of surprise. "Mr. Mullins died," she said. "He's someone I knew when I was a little girl. We raised chickens and he bought eggs from us. After he left one day, I noticed he had given me a five dollar bill instead of a one. I knew I should return his money, but I didn't." Mom shook her head. "As years went by, from time to time the memory of the money I owed him came back to disturb me. But he had moved, and I never knew where he went."
"It doesn't bother you anymore, though, does it?" Jennifer asked when Mom paused.
Mom sighed. "Mostly, I forgot all about it," she said, "but you know, every time I read or hear the Bible story of Zacchaeus, I wish I had been like him. He paid back anything he had taken wrongly. I wish I had paid back every cent I owed, too."
"And now Mr. Mullins died," said Jennifer thoughtfully. "At least you didn't keep very much money. And I'm sure you confessed it to God and were forgiven."
"That's true, but even though it seems like a small thing, I do regret that I never returned the money," said Mom. "It used to bother me a whole lot. Believe me, Jennifer, if the Lord pricks your conscience about something, it will save a lot of distress if you make it right immediately."
Jennifer knew what she must do. If I keep the extra money I got from the ice cream shop, snowcones will probably never taste good to me again, she thought. I'm going to be like Zacchaeus. I'll go and return the money tomorrow.
HOW ABOUT YOU?
Have you kept money or perhaps a book or toy that isn’t really yours—and thought you got away with it? Does it make you feel guilty or uneasy from time to time? It should! God gave you a conscience to make you aware of wrong things. If you’re a Christian, you also have the Holy Spirit to guide you. Like Zacchaeus, you need to do what you can to make wrong things right.
TODAY'S KEY VERSE: James 5:16 (KJV)
Confess your trespasses (sins) to one another, and pray for one another.