Sam looked over his shoulder, slid the battery tester into his portable Snap-On toolbox, and clicked the lid shut. He glanced behind his back for one more survey, a person can’t be too careful, then finalized security when he compressed the arched steel into his circular combination lock.
He breathed deep, and filled his lungs with the greasy scent of the mechanic stall, then swallowed hard. A familiar taste of oily air slid into his stomach. Shame originated in his heart and pulsed heat up his neck, face, and ears. Sam shook his head ever so slightly, trying to clear a thick sense of dread. But why should it bother him?
The dealership could certainly afford the loss of one hand-held battery charger. They replaced at least three a month. Sam argued with himself mentally on his way to the employee parking lot. Everyone does it. If they paid me more money I could afford to buy my own. It’s not my fault they haven’t given me a raise in two years.
He turned the key in the ignition. The cold engine started up, and by the time Sam rolled past the security fence, he thought he’d talked himself through the guilt. But the shadow of wrong-doing would prove a wily opponent. Though he shoved the incident deep into his subconscious, throughout the rest of his life, the dark memory occasionally reminded him of its imprint. The charger lay unused in his garage. He died with a stain of anxiety, he often couldn’t explain, still tattooed on his soul.
This may seem like a crazy supposition, but is it? Don’t we all battle past mistakes? Have you ever done something you knew wasn’t right, and then desperately pushed it out of your mind when it tried to crop up? But those things don’t quite go away. And why is that?
Even if another human being never finds out, God knows. The following quote comes from an ancient text called the Pirkei Avot, “Reflect on these things and you will never come to sin: Know what is above you — a seeing eye, a hearing ear, and all your deeds recorded in a book.”
If this truth doesn’t give you chills, it probably should. But it also explains why we can’t simply shake our guilt. We were designed to confess our mistakes and turn away from them. If we refuse, and instead attempt justification or try to ignore the issue, the trace remains inside us. We will spend the rest of our lives imprisoned by our own resistance to do the natural and freeing thing. Make things right with the One who sees.
How? Especially if months or years have passed? Another ancient practice shows us specific steps to unlock the cell door of secret sin. We’ll talk about that another day.
In the meantime, I implore you to ask yourself, “Have I taken something that doesn’t belong to me? Have I confessed it to God? Is there anything I can do to make it up?”
Don’t make the mistake of so many employees today. In the past few years, I’ve watched several companies go out of business because of a viral attitude from employees that says, “No big deal, they can afford it.” I’ve been guilty of it myself. But the truth is, no organization can sustain under rampant theft. Without meaning to, you could be part of a problem that causes you to lose your job. If you won’t help others, will you at least help yourself? We don’t keep secrets — secrets keep us.
Anita FreshFaith @ Work
Ephesians 4:28 (NIV)
Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.
Anita Agers-Brooks is a Business Coach, Certified Personality Trainer, Communications Specialist, speaker, and writer. She lives in Missouri.