I recently went on a shopping trip to Goodwill, a local secondhand thrift shop. I usually buy clothes from thrift or consignment stores. For me, it’s fun and incites a sense of victory when I stumble upon a “good deal.” On the rare moments I do buy brand new, it is most often an item on sale. Not because I’m cheap. It’s because I’m practical. Buying a brand name shirt or purse for hundreds of dollars just isn’t a priority or something I seek.
As I approached the check out line to pay for the items in my Goodwill shopping cart, I approached a wall full of seeds. There were all kinds of various flowers and vegetables to choose from. I thought, “hey, wouldn’t it be fun to plant some flowers?” Spring is upon us, so why not. So I chose two $.59 cent packets and threw them into my cart. After I checked out, I unloaded the Goodwill bags into my van and noticed that the seed packets were sitting in the cart. I thought to myself, “did I pay for those seeds?” I did not remember the cashier ringing up the seeds. At that moment, I hurriedly threw the seed packets into a bag, closed the van, and walked next door to our local pharmacy, with my 10 month old son still sitting in the shopping cart. When we began strolling down the pharmacy, my son started to appear bored and restless, so I grabbed a poof ball sponge [see picture below] from a nearby shelf and let him play with it. After I grabbed everything I needed, I once again made my way to the check out line and waited patiently for my turn.
I finally got everything checked out, and off I went to unload the pharmacy bag in our van, and drive home. When I placed the bag in the trunk, I noticed that the doggie poof ball was sitting in the cart, hidden from view. I did not pay for this doggie poof ball. I merely used it as a distraction for my son, and had every intention of leaving it at the store, yet there it was in plain sight outside of the store, in my hands, unpaid for. So, what did I do? I hurriedly threw it in a bag, closed the van door, got inside and drove away.
As I was driving home, I couldn’t believe that I had in essence stolen two $.59 cent seed packets and a $2.99 doggie poof ball. Is this the woman I had become? What happened? I began to reason with myself that it wasn’t a big deal, and that it was too much of an “inconvenience” for me to carry a heavy baby back in to two stores, wait in line, and pay for or return the items. They were less than $5 anyway, so who cares? I began to reason that I was hungry, sleep-deprived, and that God would understand that I didn’t “mean to.” It was all an accident, my “intentions were good,” and I was sorry. So no worries, right?
I felt horrible. I knew that I had made the wrong choice. And the worst part is that I did it not only once.. but TWICE! I was basically given the same test two times, back-to-back, within the same hour, and both times I chose to steal, because in my mind, I was justified because it was “too hard” for me to walk back inside the store with my two working legs and feet. UNBELIEVABLE.
As soon as my husband came home from work, I immediately confessed what I had done. He told me that I needed to go back to the store to either return the items or purchase them, and that it was imperative for me to NOT PLANT THE STOLEN SEEDS. I agreed! So the next day, I drove back to Goodwill, and returned the seeds. The cashier was surprised and thanked me. Next, I walked back into the pharmacy, and this time, I purchased the doggie poof ball. Once again, the cashier was surprised and thanked me. However, I’m not the one who should be thanked. I chose the wrong thing, and attempted to come up with a myriad of reasons why it was okay. So it is thanks be to God that He gave me the Holy Spirit to convict me.
This entire situation leads me to Proverbs 12 and Mark 4.
Proverbs 12:22 (NIV) states, “The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy.”
Even though I did not physically tell a lie, by not going back inside the store and telling the truth that I mistakenly took an unpaid item is a lie. Then to afterwards justify my choice and actions, is also a lie!
In Mark 4:1-8 (NIV), “Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water’s edge.2 He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said:3 “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed.4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow.6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain.8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”
I knew that if I planted stolen seeds, that it would not turn out good for me. I was already heading down the path of self-justification, theft and deceitfulness. Perhaps the seeds would have sprung up, however, the roots of the seeds were not grounded in purity and honesty. What kind of fruit would that bear?
Is there any time in your life, that you made a faulty choice and then immediately began to justify it?