When was the Last Time You Gave Back Money?

“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1

Recently I heard a story about a lady who cashed a couple of checks and received $500 more than she deserved. The lady didn’t realize the error until she had left the bank and was recounting her bills. The following business day she returned to the bank and gave the money back to the manager. The manager said, “The teller would have lost her job over this.”

In today’s economy and with the resentment many people have towards banks, it might have been easy for some folks to keep the extra money. But a true believer seeks to obey God, even when it means losing something. This lady was an obedient disciple; she honored God with her life.

Following Jesus means living as Jesus did. He called us to be imitators of his life. How do we do that? For the Apostle John, it came down to obedience. If we love God, then we obey Him. While that can sound a little cut and dried, there is something wonderful in knowing that each act of obedience has meaning. Even the most unnoticed act – the honest claim on our tax return, the extra twenty dollars (or $500 dollars) we return to the bank teller who mistakenly gave us too much cash, the act of kindness that no one saw, the forgiveness we find in our heart for someone who absentmindedly wounded us – can all be meaningful expressions of love for God.

Obeying God isn’t about keeping rules; it’s about honoring your relationship with Him. It’s about understanding that God is the source of any light and life in your existence. When you obey God’s teachings, you show your love, your devotion, and your commitment to God.

The Apostle John summed it up pretty well when writing, “We know that we have come to know Him if we obey His commands. The man who says, ‘I know Him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys His word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in Him:” 1 John 2:3-5

And what does that say about how we treat others, especially those who might be difficult to love? John also tells us, “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.” 1 John 2:9-11

I once heard a story about Dwight L. Moody that has really stuck with me over the years. Apparently he regularly took a bus to the seminary where he taught, and, as was his custom, he would hand the bus driver a dollar and receive back the change. Once, when he sat down in the bus and looked at his change, he realized that the driver had given him back too much money. When departing, Moody said to the driver, “You gave me too much change back.” The driver said, “I know. You see I visited your church the other day when you spoke about honesty and obedience. I just wanted to see if you really practiced what you preached.”

Let’s all practice what we preach…what we know God’s word tells us.

The Power of Truth:
“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children.” Eph. 5:1

“If you love me, you will obey what I command.” John 14:15

Suggestion for Prayer:
If you’re holding onto bitterness or sin, or there’s just an area in your life where you struggle to obey God, confess it and ask God to give you the strength, courage, and love to overcome it…even if it means losing something. Trust Him to know what’s best for you and to deliver you.