by Tim Hall
Is it right to turn another’s misfortune into our gain?
The days of 38-cents-per-gallon gas are long gone. Customers at a San Antonio convenience store found Tuesday, however, that the good old days had returned. It was too good to be true, and that may explain why no one told store manager Jim Duke about the price on his premium gasoline.
Duke became suspicious when he saw larger-than-usual crowds at the premium pump. When he went out to investigate, he realized an error had been committed. The price should have read $3.89 per gallon. By the time the pump was turned off, a substantial amount of money had been lost to opportunistic customers.
On Monday of this week a motorcyclist suffered misfortune when a bag he was carrying ripped. Money began spilling out on Interstate 10 near Los Angeles. In the midst of speeding traffic, many people stopped. They didn’t stop to help the motorcyclist, though; they were helping themselves to the cash. Most of them sped off when the highway patrol arrived.
“Too bad,” many will say about such incidents. “They should have been more careful with their property.” But is that the response God wants His people to make?
Deuteronomy 22:1,2 addresses such a situation:
“You shall not see your brother’s ox or his sheep going astray, and hide yourself from them; you shall certainly bring them back to your brother. And if your brother is not near you, or if you do not know him, then you shall bring it to your own house, and it shall remain with you until your brother seeks it; then you shall restore it to him” (NKJV).
We all suffer misfortunes and losses. Sometimes the loss occurs because of our own negligence. Irresponsibility doesn’t change God’s expectations, though. If we see that another has suffered loss, we should not declare open season on the misplaced loot.
The ultimate measure of our actions in any situation is found in Luke 6:31: “And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.” Jesus’ Golden Rule is an easy standard to apply. If we would not want others to do something to us, then we should not do the same to them.
Instead of an opportunity to stuff our pockets, maybe this is an opportunity to help a person recover or minimize their loss. “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10).