“Princes and lords are but the breath of kings, an honest man is the noblest work of God.” (Robert Burns 1759–1796)
Pope Pius the Ninth once received a letter very different from the many he received every day. It was written on a plain sheet of paper; there were ink spots on it, crossed out words, and spelling mistakes. A very young boy living in a suburb of Rome had sent it. The boy’s mother was ill; he had no money to help her and he asked the Pope for the thirty-seven lire he wanted for medicine. Pius had his secretary reply to the boy, saying that he would receive him at the palace the next morning.
On the following day the now happy boy went to the Vatican, presented his letter of audience, and asked that he be taken to see the Pope. The guards were very surprised, looked at the letter and passed it on to an officer to check, and finally let the boy into the palace. The boy’s honest and determined look immediately appealed to the Pope, who after a little talk, gave him a gold coin. The boy thanked him then innocently mentioned that it was only twenty-five lire he had received and he wanted thirty-seven. “Of course,’ answered the Pope, “you are right, I had forgotten the exact amount you needed.” Then he took a second coin from his purse and gave it to the boy. But this is too much now,” the boy pointed out, “and I have no change. But I will bring it tomorrow.” “That’s all right; come and see me again tomorrow,” replied the Pope.
The boy was very prompt and arrived next morning with the change. This greatly impressed the Pope. In the meantime he had his secretary make some enquiries about the boy and his sick mother. The secretary had reported to the Pope that the boy was truthful and conscientious and that the family was very poor. So when the boy arrived with the change the Pope told him that he would pay for his education and that his mother would be properly cared for during her illness.
And so it was done. The boy received a good education and became very successful in all that he did, worthy of the Pope who had helped him.
This story is about honesty, not about big things but small things, not asking for too much, only what is necessary. It’s also a story about making a commitment and honouring it. Today, the media abounds with stories of confidence tricksters, about misrepresentation, about dishonesty. Society now expects that we should question every offer of help or kindness in case there is a ‘bottom line’ and we become a victim.
One morning over 2,000 years ago God made us a great offer. He placed on earth His Son who would live and work among His people. Jesus would not ask too much of us, only that we should honour His name and go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything He commanded us. And He made a commitment that He would be with us always, to the very end of the age. It is a commitment that He will honour.
The dishonesty of many has caused us to become sceptics. But there is no dishonesty about God – He gave His Son to us as a gift, He made an offer of forgiveness and He made a promise of eternal life to those who believe. No matter how society behaves, this is honesty and commitment that we can rely on. They are promises to remember every day.
Have a blessed, peaceful and joyful week. Remember that joy is not to do with the troubled world in which we live, but joy as we live under the promises of God. No matter what happens in the world that fact remains, and for that gift from God we can be forever joyful. Pastor Ron Clarke.
Optional Bible readings: Proverbs 16:13; Matthew 28:19,20.
This is one of a series of weekly messages of encouragement, now in its twenty-sixth year, originating from Gympie, Fraser Coast, Queensland, Australia. A companion Bible study page is available each week. To subscribe via email send to email@example.com with the words ‘Subscribe Word (or) Subscribe Word & Study’. Our ministry is free and emailing lists are confidential. Tell a friend or why not put a note in your church newsletter or pew sheet about this ministry – we welcome new subscriptions.Pastor Ron Clarke OAMWord for the WeekMbl.: +61 488 424 321