The Christian Science Monitor reported this week about a homeless man who found a backpack containing more than $40,000, and he didn’t pocket the money and keep it for himself.
Glen James found the valuable bag at the South Bay Mall in Boston, Mass., and then turned it in to a police officer. The bag was returned to its owner, a college student from China.
Ethan Whittington, from Midlothian, Va., was so inspired by James’ honesty that he began an online fundraiser via gofundme.com. Whittington’s original fundraising goal for James, according to The Christian Science Monitor, was $50,000. But the response has far exceeded that amount, and more than $140,000 has been raised for James.
“Now Whittington says he’s overwhelmed by the generosity of strangers,” The Christian Science Monitor reported.
James’ actions underline the principle that honesty isn’t situational. Our circumstances don’t determine whether or not we should be honest.
He stumbled upon an unusual opportunity to be honest, and he was rewarded in an incredible way. But this honesty most likely wasn’t something he suddenly decided to employ the day he found the backpack; he probably has an honest character.
What’s interesting is that hundreds of strangers have applauded James’ honest character because they were inspired by his act of integrity or compelled by compassion for his homeless state.
Most cultures and societies would cite honesty as an important character trait, regardless of faith.
A simple Ask.com search about honesty results in this statement: “Honesty is an important value because it shows courage, it means being authentic, it shows that someone cares and it illustrates maturity.”
Whittington’s short bio on the gofundme.com site encourages everyone to donate, emphasizing the great value of honesty. “Let’s all chip in and help this man change his life,” he writes. “Every little donation helps. Let’s be reassured that there is still hope and humanity in our great nation.”
The Huffington Post also reported James’ story, and its headline read, “Homeless man rewarded for returning $42,000, showing us how to be better human beings.”
There’s a distinguishing factor between how the world sees honesty — hope for humanity — and the way Christians should view honesty.
We should view honesty as obedience to God, as a moral, joyful responsibility to our neighbors.
It’s notable that the world commends James’ honesty, but it underlines the deeper cry for truth. People are inspired to donate to James because, in their innate beings, a desire for truth exists. And Christians are called to share that Truth with the lost.
Stories like James’ should not only inspire us, but they should also motivate us to display honesty and to spread the reason why an honest character is so important.