It’s not often that someone openly, boldly, unashamedly asks me to lie – to commit fraud. Normally the temptations to sin are subtle, sly, subconscious even. But not this one.
We are selling a house. We have people renting it currently. They’ve been very accommodating to realtors showing the property at all times of the day. We’ve told them the truth through the whole process for two reasons: it’s what we’d want, and it seemed like the right thing to do.
Imagine our surprise, in this economy, when we received an offer for a little more than our asking price! Woo-hoo!
But there’s a catch. In order for the buyer to get a mortgage, we’d have to ask our renters to write a letter stating that they’d move out in 60 days.
Our response was simple. “What?”
“It’s just a letter – it doesn’t mean anything. Just ask them to write the letter so the mortgage company will give the buyer a mortgage. We’ll all know that the renters can stay there until the end of their lease.”
Shocked just feels like an understatement.
So many things came to mind as these words penetrated my understanding.
“Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies,” Ps 34:13
“The wisdom of the prudent is to give thoughts to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception.” Pr 14:8
“How then could I do this wicked thing and sin against God?” Gen 9:9(b)
“So whether you eat or drink, whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God.” 1 Cor 10:31
The answer was easy but not because we argued from a position of strength (in human terms, anyway). The buyer was dangling a greater than full-price offer before us – all we had to do was ask our tenants to write a little letter that no one had any intention of holding them to.
It was easy to give them an answer because we knew that this had nothing to do with a letter, but had everything to do with understanding that God cared more about our hearts and actions than the buyer or his real estate agent did.
We heard a sermon on Matthew 5 yesterday. In particular, we heard preached that salt that isn’t salty is useless – pointless. You don’t season the salt for it to be useful – you throw it out. The only purpose of light is to illuminate – no one needs a “flash dark”. You don’t turn on a light to cover it up – that’s just stupid.
God has called us to be salt and light – His salt and His light. We exist as salt and light. It’s not that sometimes we’re salty and sometimes we illuminate. It has become our defining characteristics – we are salt and light.
Verse 16 says, “so then, let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your father in heaven.”
We often think of the big things when applying scripture to our lives. Missionaries. Martyrs. Evangelists. They know how to do these things so that people can look at their lives and know that God was directing their paths. They lead multitudes to the Lord, they remain faithful through persecution, they never waiver. All that may be true, but even they deal with the ordinary things in life.
Even they have to file taxes honestly, pay for things the cashier undercharged for, apologize to children, and leave the office supplies at work.
It was easy to say no to this offer, because we knew that no amount of money was worth dishonoring God. It wasn’t just a letter – it was God’s reputation on the line. God may not provide another full-price offer, but we’re confident He can work things out without asking us to lie. But this episode has caused me to think about the many opportunities we have in the course of normal, everyday, ordinary life that even our little lives can season and shine.
Walking from moment to moment with integrity matters, even if you’ll never be a missionary or martyr or evangelist. Sprinkling the salt and lighting the way in the smallest and seemingly most mundane parts of our days glorifies God – even if the only ones who see it are our kids or coworkers.
Like our pastor said yesterday, even a night-light in the middle of the night makes a profound difference to the one who’s path has been illuminated.