The Pack of Nails

You shall remember all the way which Yahweh your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, to test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. Deuteronomy 8:2 WEB.

It was summertime. An elder at our church had a leaky spot on his roof, and I was helping him repair it. My dad was a lifelong carpenter, and I got to work with him a good bit. So for a while, I became the go-to handyman at our local church. A soft spot had developed on the elder's roof, so we had to replace the plywood and shingles in that area.

He was a hard-working man in his mid-seventies who had worked at the local grocery store for about thirty years. When noon came, we went to the hardware store for more supplies. A neighbor's boy, about four years old, rode along with us in the truck.

While we gathered what we needed, the little boy imitated us and picked up his own tiny pack of nails. We paid the bill, got lunch, and drove back to the house. We hadn't noticed that the neighbor's boy had walked out of the hardware store with his own pack of nails, but no one had paid for them.

When we arrived back at the house, the elder saw the pack of nails in the little boy's hand and in a near panic, said, "Oh God, we didn't pay for those!" So we jumped back in his truck and hurriedly drove the five miles back to the hardware store to return that fifty-cent pack of nails.

I was impressed with his integrity, for it was a hot day, and we still had a lot to do on the roof. I wasn't sure I would have done the same, at least that quickly. It wasn't even the nails that worried him. After walking with the Lord for decades, he recognized immediately that his character was being tested. He wouldn't compromise his integrity over a small pack of nails.

One night at church, everyone was praying for the Pastor's wife, who was suffering from stomach cancer. When this grocer reached out to pray for her, something that looked like static electricity shot out of his hands and into her body, she was instantly healed, and cancer left her body and never returned. That was forty years ago. He was a simple, honest man with great faith. James told us: "The effective, earnest prayer of a righteous man is powerfully effective" (James 5:16).

God will use little tests like this to prove your character or faithfulness. He who can be trusted with a little can also be trusted with a lot (Luke 16:10). You will be tested to see what you are really made of, like someone giving you too much change back at the cash register. When this happens, don't trade your integrity for short-term gain. Turn the test into a testimony, and don't fall for the trap. For who you are when no one is looking is who you really are.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I thank You for bringing me this far. Please give me the grace to get through this day and walk with integrity. Fill me with Your Spirit and guide my steps. Help me make the right decisions. In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen!

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