Once upon a time there was a young man who studied and worked extremely hard and won a scholarship to the local University. At the University he continued the same work ethic, taking nothing for granted. After enrolling and attending a certain course for a while, it was time for his first exam. He studied all night. On the day of the exam, the professor passed out the tests and announced, “You have 1 hour to finish the exam. I will be back then.” On his way out, a student asked, “You are not going to be in here while we take the test?” The professor replied, “No. You are all adults now. I expect you to act honorably.” The professor walked out and a stir of whispers rippled across the lecture hall.  Slowly, one by one, students began to take out their textbooks and notes. The young man looked around. He knew the test would be extremely difficult and that he had to maintain high grades to keep his scholarship. It would be easy to cheat like everyone else and guarantee a good grade, but he had never cheated before and it didn’t feel right now. He tucked his book bag under his chair and began the test. Three more times that semester the professor passed out exams and left the lecture hall. Each time all of the students took advantage of the situation and cheated. The young man, however, studied and prepared and did the right thing on every exam at a great personal expense. He became very unpopular amongst his classmates and suffered many insults. Then the day of the final exam came. The professor had advised the students that the final exam would be cumulative covering the entire semester. After the professor handed out the exams, the students kept their gaze upon the professor. He stayed at his desk. A student asked, “Professor, are you leaving?” He replied, “No, not today and in fact, your entire grade this semester will be based on this one test. I am throwing out all of your past test scores.” A horrible collective gasp pervaded the room as if everyone was sucker punched in the gut. The young man smiled, grabbed his pen and went to work on his test.

Of course, this story is just a parable, but it describes someone I know whose story is very similar. He was at a crossroads once. Cheat and save tons of money like most other people or do the honorable thing and spend lots of money for a long time. All along he knew that the cheaters may never get penalized, but he chose honor and integrity anyway. You probably know people like this as well; honorable people who make hard decisions at great personal expense because it’s the right thing to do. These people probably inspire you. This person inspires me and quite honestly, I have quite a few high quality friends in my life who, if tested, would make similar choices. The good Lord knew that I would need them (even though I bring down the average). This person might be you and if it is, I just want to encourage you to keep doing the honorable things even in these tough times.  You may never see a payoff for your sacrifice here in this life (although a clear conscious is worth something) or vindication as to the cheaters, but one day you will face a final exam with our Creator and Judge. You will stand alongside the cheaters and well…pity them. Here’s a couple of verses to study for your final exam.

“So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” Romans 14:12

 “For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body.” 2 Corinthians 5:10


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