Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Go Figure

From my morning reading.

Leviticus 6:1 -5 We've all heard the old saw, "Figures never lie, unless liars figure." You don't have to be a liar to get into trouble with figures. Did you hear about the statistician who drowned crossing a river? Its average depth was only three feet. Averages may not lie, but they don't tell the whole truth!

In Leviticus 6 Moses sets forth some legal standards for dealing with the crimes of embezzlement, extortion, perjury, and theft. The average person today would certainly agree that we need laws against such crimes. But would the average person agree that finding a lost item and telling a little fib to keep it is a "crime"? How about borrowing a power tool from a friend and conveniently forgetting to return it? Or failing to draw attention to the box of laundry soap on the bottom of the grocery cart that the checkout person missed? Maybe the issue is a ream of paper taken from the office and sitting by the printer at home?

What the "average" person would do is hardly the correct standard when it comes to questions of honesty and integrity. God's standard is, "You shall not steal." Period, end of discussion. Stolen property must be returned, and restitution must be made. The Mosaic law mandated a payment of 120 percent of the value of the stolen property, and the guilty party was required to provide a guilt offering: a ram without defect or its equivalent in silver.

For the Christian, the guilt offering for sin was paid by a Lamb without spot or blemish. We can be forgiven, but forgiveness doesn't eliminate the responsibility of restitution if we have taken advantage of another person or a company. Maybe our offense isn't a crime, but it does show a lack of integrity, a failure to respect the rights and property of others.

Let's start by looking in the garage or workshop--is that your brother-in-law's power saw? Put a new blade on it and return it with an apology for keeping it so long. How about the extension ladder behind the garage? Take it back to the neighbor with a coffee cake as an extra thank you. How many company pens, pencils, or other office items clutter the top of your dresser or desk at home? Paper clips? Sure, everyone accumulates a few, but what about the box you borrowed from the supply cabinet?

Coming clean before God may mean cleaning up around the house first. Sure, the average person wouldn't think twice about taking a towel from a hotel room or about how many ink pens are in his desk drawer, but a Christian isn't an average person--he's under new management with a mandate to not accept business as usual. Now, go figure

My world is filled with ethical shortcuts,Lord. The world's way of getting things done has no sharp edges, only rounded moral corners. I want the sharpness, the exactness of your way, Father, that cuts through the self-deceit and wrongness of the world's way. Amen.

A Daily Devotional Guide to Christlike Character
Edited by: Don M. Aycock

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