So it's Christmas time, and I'm sure everyone (like us) has been doing a lot of shopping and wrapping and waiting in line at the post office to make sure all the presents get delivered by Christmas Day. We tried to get all our shopping done early(er) this year. One gift purchasing experience left me quite happy we made the decision a long time ago to be honest no matter what.
We purchased quite a lot of our gifts this year from Amazon.com, and with coupons and combining good deals, all but one gift came with free shipping. The one that didn't happened to be the most expensive purchase we've made this season. It came on time and we were pleased with the product. A few days after all of our gifts arrived, we received an extra box in the mail. I'm part of a world-wide Mommy gift exchange event on Facebook, and I figured it must be the gift from my Secret Santa, so I opened it. The package inside was clearly NOT meant for me, and there was a paper on top of the item with the name and address of someone else. When we compared the box to another one we had received we realized it was from the same seller who sold us the gift we had to pay shipping on.
Now, for us it wasn't even a discussion about what to do with the box. It wasn't ours and it needed to go to the rightful owner. But looking back, if we were dishonest people, it would have been super easy to keep it and get away with it. The box was mailed through USPS, and there was no tracking number, so the shipper would have no way of knowing that we had it. In addition, the person who actually ordered the package probably would have waited several more days before complaining that she hadn't received the box yet, so they wouldn't know where to look first. And some people might rationalize "It's not MY fault they mailed me the wrong box" and use the "finders keepers losers weepers" way of thinking. But in the end, it would have been dishonest no matter which way you look at it to keep the box. All I could think is that some poor woman in Michigan is waiting for a Christmas gift to arrive, and if I don't do something soon it might not get there in time for Christmas.
So I emailed the seller. I explained the situation and hoped they would get back to me soon. I got a phone call from the guy who owns the company apologizing for the mix up. I asked if he wanted me to mail it back to him so that he could send it to the right person, but after some discussion we decided that that would definitely get the gift there way too late. I agreed to take it to the post office and mail it to the woman who made the purchase, and then email the seller a receipt so that he could reimburse me for the shipping. I had to go to the post office that day anyway since I still needed to mail my Secret Santa gift all the way to England (which by the way is SUPER expensive!).
The next day I was surprised to see that we had a large deposit into our bank account from Amazon, much larger than the cost to mail the misplaced package to Michigan. When I checked my email the seller had sent me a message saying he had refunded not only the cost on the receipt for mailing his box, but also my previous purchase and shipping charges as a thank you for taking the trouble to help him out! I couldn't help but smile at his kindness.
Even if we hadn't have received monetary compensation for doing the right thing, honesty still pays. It adds to your reputation as a trustworthy person, it builds confidence that you're doing what God wants you to do, and it gives you the peace of mind knowing that no one can accuse you of trying to cheat your way through life. Most importantly, it shows the Savior that you take seriously your commitment to follow in His footsteps. God blesses us for doing good, and more often than not those blessings are much less subtle than money in your bank account. Often it is simply a feeling inside that you helped someone else. It is the peace in your heart and mind, and another drop of oil in your lamp (referring to the Parable of the 10 Virgins). And those blessings, however subtle they might be, have eternal significance. I would rather be honest and add value to my soul than be dishonest and add value to my bank account (although in this rare instance being honest added to my bank account as well).
So whenever you're in a situation where someone has made an error in your favor, or it would be really easy to get away with paying less than you are supposed to, or keeping something that isn't yours, please remember honesty. Christ teaches us that we should seek treasures in heaven, not treasures on earth. Having perfect integrity is one of the best ways to ensure that you are seeking the right treasures. So remember to be honest and have a Merry Christmas this season!