Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful. (I Corinthians 4:2, NKJV)

How much is your integrity worth to you?

I recently went to a major retail store to buy some landscape lights. After looking at a dozen different styles, I found what I wanted. Placing my new-found merchandise in my cart, I headed for the check-out line.

The cashier was friendly and checked me through quickly. As I left the store and headed to my car, I decided to check how much each light cost. They weren’t expensive, but I was curious. Pulling the receipt from the bag, I saw an agreeable price – and something else. The cashier only charged me for five lights, yet I bought six. Not wanting to be accused of shoplifting, I turned around and reentered the store.

After standing in the same cashier’s line for what seemed like an eternity, it was finally my turn. She looked surprised at seeing me again so soon. When I explained what happened she gratefully thanked me and rang up the extra light. As I turned to leave, she said, “I’m surprised you came back for something so small – most people wouldn’t have bothered. After all it was my mistake.”

I told her it wasn’t a small deal. Aside from it being wrong to take something I hadn’t paid for, it was a matter of integrity. Sure, I could have taken the approach she described, tallied it up as her mistake, and been on my way. But every time I mowed the lawn or hedged the bushes around that specific light, I would be reminded of the small price I placed on my integrity.

The temptation to betray our financial integrity isn’t always so small. Padding the corporate expense account, fudging the numbers on tax returns, using business vehicles for personal errands, misrepresenting the sales price on a wrecked car – the temptations are all around. If you fail the small-value tests, you will fail the higher-value tests.

As His representatives to the unbelieving world, God calls His followers to be faithful stewards of the financial resources He gives them. Jesus’ story of the talents (Matthew 25) confirms God holds us accountable for what He has given us. Whether little or large, He calls us to the standard of unwavering faithfulness.

May we live in such a way that we hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful. Enter into the joy of your lord” (Matthew 25:21).