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What Would You Do?

By Pastor Phillip Howle
web posted March 5, 2014

RELIGION – What would do if you were an employee at a Goodwill Thrift store and while going through an old coat or robe that had been donated you found 43,000$ in cash stuffed in the pockets? Before you answer, you are all alone in the back of the store. You don’t make much per hour. The items have willingly been left. What do you do?

This scenario played out a few weeks back at a Michigan Goodwill. The store manager made a startling discovery inside the pockets of a few donated items. On Jan. 29, manager Tyler Gedelian found a series of envelopes inside a suit and a robe that had been dropped off at his Monroe, Mich., store. Inside the envelopes? Stacks and stacks of $100 bills.

After the discovery, Gedelian, 29, immediately phoned police. “I certainly can’t imagine losing that kind of money,” Gedelian said.  “I was so nervous having so much of someone else’s money.” Police quickly tracked down the money’s rightful owner, a man who said he had been clearing out an elderly relative’s closet and hadn’t bothered to check the pockets on the garments. All told, the suit and robe had more than $43,000 stuffed into the pockets.

He said that he never thought about keeping the money. This sort of character was made at that movement. This kind of character had to be the product of choices and actions that this fellow had made the entirely of his life.

John MacArthur writes that “The thing that reveals character is involuntary response, not planned response. Your character isn’t manifest by what you prepare to do. It’s manifest by what you’re not prepared for and how you react to that, that involuntary reaction. That shows your character. We can all plan for those spiritual experiences, to some extent. It’s those things that catch us off guard and reveal the real weakness of our hearts that tell us who we really are.”

As I read this story in my own life, my mind went back to an old sermon that I had heard. The preacher said “Character is who you are when no one is looking.” He also added “What would you do if you knew you would never be caught? “ These were all questions I remember from a sermon I heard on Character when I was a youth. These are thought provoking questions are they not? They really make us dig deep. As I thought about character this morning, I also remembered another quote that I had read a while back from a guy named William Hershey Davis.

“The circumstances amid which you live determine your reputation; the truth you believe determines your character. Reputation is what you are supposed to be; Character is what you are. Reputation is what you have when you come to a new community; Character is what you have when you go away. Reputation is made in a moment; Character is built in a lifetime. Reputation grows like a mushroom; Character grows like an oak.

Your reputation is learned in an hour; Your character does not come to light for a year. A single newspaper report gives your reputation; a life of toil gives you your character. Reputation makes you rich or makes you poor; Character makes you happy or makes you miserable. Reputation is what men say about you on your tombstone; Character is what angels say about you before the throne of God. Your character is what God knows you to be. Your reputation is what men think you are.”

The fact is that God knows us fully and completely. The fact is that it is God’s assessment of us that matters more than anything.  Jesus spoke hard truth to a church in the book of Revelation. Revelation 3:1-2 “I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.  (2) Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.” This was a church that looked good from the outside and might have impressed people, but it was near death on the inside.

The same might be true for many of you. You focus far more on keeping the externals looking impressive than you do on an inward heart toward God. You care far more for the approval of man than you do for the approval of God. You live much of your life in the dark hoping it will never be found.

Jesus knows you through and through. But he loves you and desires for you to turn away from the dark, turn toward him and walk in the light!

Pastor Phillip Howle

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