Jesus went on to make these comments:
If you’re honest in small things, you’ll be honest in big things; If you’re a crook in small things, you’ll be a crook in big things. If you’re not honest in small jobs, who will put you in charge of the store? No worker can serve two bosses: He’ll either hate the first and love the second Or adore the first and despise the second. You can’t serve both God and the Bank.
Luke 16: 10-13 The Message
“The first dollar you steal is the most crucial one!” My mom still remembers hearing that line from a sermon she heard decades ago. The point of the preacher’s sermon was that our sinful human nature likes to rationalize away small sins.
“What? It’s only a dollar! No one will miss it!” Yet pocketing that first dollar inevitably leads to pocketing a few more dollars next time. This goes on and on, escalating more each time. Then finally, the whole embezzlement scheme comes crashing down! There are usually many victims as a result. Sadly, we see these crimes repeated over and over. It is probably one of the main reasons why yearly audits were invented.
The other side of the coin, so to speak (pun intended!) is that little acts of fidelity and honesty also mark our souls, and set our future path. When we are honest in small things, we will be honest in big things. It’s a bit like interest in a bank, only with love. You put love and kindness into relationships, work, and other pursuits in your life, and the compound results are peace and joy and harmony. This is true with all those you have engaged with throughout your life.
That is good news! We sometimes imagine that our stewardship of little things doesn’t matter. The eyes of the world seem to be on the multi-millionaires and billionaires. Remember Robin Leach’s television show, “The lifestyles of the rich and famous?” Jesus takes a very different approach. He does not wave his arms and sing praises about those with great wealth. He focuses on every single person, from all walks of life, from all races, and from all economic backgrounds. Jesus assures us that our little acts of fidelity and honesty add up to enormous dividends in the end.
Ultimately, it is all about our character. Do people see us as honest and trustworthy, or not? Would we invest in ourselves? Here, Jesus reminds us that the answer will almost never be “Sometimes.” It will be either “Yes” or “No.” Let us live our lives in such a way that Jesus sees that we value character above everything else, modeling our lives after His.
It really IS all about that first dollar, figuratively speaking, in all of your relationships! One of the ten commandments is “You shall not steal”. Theft of any kind, whether financial or emotional, is still theft. Over time, it can multiply to become larger and larger amounts. Jesus’ words are well worth considering in a world which rationalizes “minor” bad behavior… Let us hold ourselves to a higher standard!
Your son Jesus called me to live an honest, faithful, and true life. Forgive me for my sins, both big and small. Thank You for Your words about one’s character and reputation. Help me to be faithful in small things, so that when I am entrusted with large matters, I will possess the good character necessary for the responsibility. I pray this prayer in Your holy name. Amen.