When the sons of Jacob returned home from Egypt they found a bonus in their sacks of grain. The money they had spent had been returned. Genesis 42 reveals this was part of the manipulations of their brother Joseph – now a powerful Egyptian official – to motivate them to return to Egypt. But they didn’t understand this, and they could have easily just put the cash back in their pockets.
But the story gets complicated. Simeon had been put in an Egyptian jail as security, and his brothers didn’t want to jeopardize his safety. Their father instructed them to go back to Egypt to return the money – and double it! This they did, and urgently explained their predicament to Joseph’s house steward. The man was impressed with their honesty and treated them kindly (43:19-23). As the story unfolds, the Egyptians seemed to regard the family as honorable and righteous, and this eventually eased the family’s migration into Egypt.
What would you do if you discovered returned or misplaced money? Many people today would simply keep it and hush things up. “If it benefits me, why not?” some would say. The same excuses could be found among thieves and embezzlers. Great is their embarrassment when they are found out. But when careful honesty is practiced, people appreciate it, and the way is often smoothed for other good things to occur. Honesty has power!
Paul said, “Walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing” (1 Thess.4:12, KJV). If some unexpected benefit is questionable (as in the case of Jacob’s family), it should be investigated so that honesty is maintained. Never rob honesty of its power. This is Gods’ way.
– Tim Johnson