Encouragement for Today
God’s Returns Policy
Rachel Olsen, Senior Editor Online Devotions, Speaker Team Member
Acts 24:16, “… Strive to have a clear conscious without offense toward God and men.” (NKJ)
I hurried out of the store and continued on to the next stop on my errands list. Soon I noticed something from the store not listed on my receipt was in my bag. I hadn’t stolen it; the store clerk had mistakenly forgotten to ring it up.
To drive back to the store to return it was an inconvenience I didn’t have time for in my day. It would take 20 minutes, maybe more. I definitely can’t drive back there today, I concluded. Then I sheepishly wondered, Am I really obligated to return the item? Ever find yourself in a situation like this?
This wasn’t my mistake, so why should I have to fix it? I insisted. Maybe this was God cutting me a little break and giving me a little blessing. That sounded reasonable enough. I serve a gracious God. Besides, what’s a few dollars matter to a big store like that?
Sounds reasonable, but its lies from the parched lips of the Enemy enticing me to commit the sin of stealing after someone else committed the mistake of overlooking an item. While I technically didn’t steal it, it technically didn’t belong to me either. To keep it when I have the ability to return it, would be stealing. The Enemy’s three main goals are to kill, steal, and destroy, according to John 10:10.
I admit I entertained the lie that I wasn’t responsible for returning the item. After all this situation was not my fault, to rectify it would inconvenience me, and this item wasn’t very expensive anyway. My conscious, however, counter-argued: But you didn’t pay for this item and naturally you’re expected to pay for all merchandise in a store. You know that clerk didn’t mean to give this to you for free. You’ve got to pay for it, or give it back.
Oswald Chambers writes, “Conscience is that ability within me that attaches itself to the highest standard I know, and then continually reminds me of what that standard demands that I do.” My conscious was demanding I return the trinket to the store. Even if I couldn’t get there that day, I also couldn’t let it slide.
Chambers advises: “When you begin to debate, stop immediately. Don’t ask, “Why can’t I do this?” You are on the wrong track. There is no debating once your conscious speaks.”
Jesus said, “Unless you are faithful in small matters, you won't be faithful in large ones. If you cheat even a little, you won't be honest with greater responsibilities” (Luke ). When we cheat others out of something – even something little – we cheat ourselves out of big things from God.
I realized the blessing of a clear conscience would outweigh the temporary fortune of making it home with an item I didn’t pay for. And my heavenly reward for abstaining from sin would greatly outweigh the inconvenience of a trip back to the store. Not to mention, returning it gives me a great opportunity to tell the clerk why I need to return this and Who sent me here to do it.
My Prayer for Today:
Lord, forgive me for anything I have stolen. Forgive me when I believe the lies of the Enemy. Attune my conscience to your Holy Spirit and convict me before I sin, that I may instead go the other way. May I be faithful in the little things, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Ask God to reveal to you anything you have stolen – even if accidentally. Ask His forgiveness, which He freely offers you. Return the item(s) if possible.
What is weighing heavily on your conscience today?
Are you faithful with little things? Has God entrusted you with bigger things?
Has something been stolen from you? Trust God to make that situation right.
Psalm 32:5, “Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide them. I said to myself, "I will confess my rebellion to the LORD." And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.” (NLT)
Hebrews , “…I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." (NIV)
Cents and Sensibility by Bethany and Scott Palmer
Radically Obedient: Radically Blessed, by Lysa TerKeurst
Hearing God, by Rachel Olsen, ETC Corner