I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! My husband had just discovered that owing to a clerical error, his employer had been overpaying him for the past six months. He reported this right away and was told that until the money was repaid, his wages would be withheld. We were newly married, and this was a great hardship for us, since we had unknowingly spent the extra funds.
Someone advised us that in this situation we might have a legal right to keep the money, but in our hearts we knew this wasn’t what we wanted to do. We reasoned that if a friend had overpaid us, we wouldn’t take advantage of the friend’s mistake and attempt to profit from it. It seemed unethical and devoid of integrity to do so under these circumstances.
Nevertheless, feelings of injustice and indignity kept surfacing, since this mistake was not due to any deception on my husband’s part. And repaying the money would have wiped out our modest savings. We needed an answer, and soon!
We decided to address the issue in a way we had found helpful in challenges before: through prayer, which meant understanding the situation from a spiritual perspective. Through our study of Christian Science we understood that another name for God is Truth, and that each of us is actually God’s spiritual offspring, naturally reflecting His qualities.
To me, this means that the capacity to be upright and honest is inherent in everyone’s true identity. We have the ability to think and act with integrity because God expresses His nature and goodness in us.
I’ve found putting this into practice and expressing integrity in whatever I do is strengthening and empowering. The times I have been less than completely truthful have made me feel that I let myself down and abandoned my genuine sense of identity as God-created. As Mary Baker Eddy, the author of “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” says of the profound importance of honesty: “Honesty is spiritual power. Dishonesty is human weakness, which forfeits divine help” (p. 453).
As we prayed, we understood that we had an even higher mandate than just not trying to claim the money as legally ours. We saw that we were also being called to let go of any sense of blame for the clerical error that had been made, and these ideas about everyone’s natural ability to do what’s right gave us the courage to handle this situation from our own highest sense of right.
As we did, all feelings of injustice lifted. We saw the repayment of this money as an opportunity to be faithful to Truth. We also realized that God, Truth, could never cause us to be penalized for being honest and doing the right thing – reporting the error.
We repaid the money, yet shortly afterward our savings were replenished when we received an unexpected income tax refund that was within a few dollars of what we had paid out. While we were deeply grateful for the money, it couldn’t compare to the spiritual sense of strength and well-being we felt by being true to our spiritual selves as God’s children. That is a gift money can’t buy!
Each day is a new opportunity to demonstrate, through our actions, that God’s truth is a vital power operating in the world and blessing it. When we are striving to live up to our authentic being as God created us, up to our true potential, this blesses ourselves as well as those around us.