That sentence has been ringing in my ears since last night. I heard it then and I hope to never forget it. I was at a social function among friends and a story was unfolding before me that I hadn’t bargained for…
Apparently, the daughter in this story had offered an item for sale in a local Facebook group and immediately had a buyer. But, there’s a catch. Instead of the $20 asking price, the buyer offered $15. A deal was struck on a Friday afternoon and the buyer said she’d pop by Monday with cash to pick it up. If I understand correctly, this was a public exchange of conversation in full view of the public.
That all seems pretty normal, right? Well, what happens when another buyer rolls up and says, “I’ll pay your full $20 asking price now.” No, it didn’t need to get complex, but it did. The daughter, also known as the seller, agrees to take the $20 and cuts the other buyer loose. As you can imagine, there are accusations made, complaints, snark, and tons of other noise.
Fast forward to the social function now. This event is being recounted because the daughter is still, hours later, embroiled in messaging war with the original buyer. She recounts to the group what happened and cites all the times this buyer has shafted others on unfulfilled “purchases” on that same buy/sell group. And the fact is, you can picture the kind of person she’s talking about. You know the one… The “I’ll take it,” guy who rarely comes through, and when they do there are all kinds of drama and calamity associated with the transaction. You know the one – the kind of person who makes you question if selling your trinket on the cheap was worth all this hassle.
But, and there is always the “but” associated with these things, does the knowledge that the first buyer is a proven pain in the keester change the fact the daughter broke her word?
It does not.
For the extra $5, the daughter traded her integrity. A deal was in place, and when something better came along, the original handshake meant nothing. The fact that the first buyer was potentially a pain, is another discussion altogether. When you make a deal, you stick to it. When I posited that idea in the group discussion I only had one verbal support among the 8 folks visiting about it. And even his was conditional. I looked at the daughter’s dad and we locked eyes. My good buddy, a tremendous and loving friend of mine, looked at me and said, “It’s only Facebook Marketplace.”
I was crushed. I truly was. The father, one of my dearest friends, gave me at least an inkling he knew it was wrong, but immediately dismissed it citing the insignificance of an online trade community. Somehow deception was ok because it didn’t rise to his level of caring. He has the opportunity to correct this growing problem in his family, and he shirked his responsibility.
“Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.”C.S. Lewis
I value Jack Lewis above many writers, but there’s an inherent problem with the quote above… There is NEVER a time when nobody is watching. The Almighty sees our every move. That should give you a moment of pause.
Sometimes you should sit down and make a list of all the truly important things in your life. I’m not talking about houses, cars, trips to Rome, or your favorite sports moment in history. I’m talking about the things you truly can’t live well without. I’m referring to love, fidelity, justice, honor, truth, and the like. None of those have a tangible existence. You can’t touch, taste, or smell any of them, yet they’re supremely necessary for your life.
I’m having a hard time reconciling what I learned last night. I don’t think I handled it well either. There might have been a teachable moment in there, and I tried, but I’m quite certain I did as much damage in my argument as I did well. In times like these, such as all times, we turn to Scripture. After all, isn’t all Scripture inspired by God and beneficial for teaching, for rebuke, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be fully capable, equipped for every good work?
I pray you all grasp the need for salt & light. May you become them both.