A young man was walking through a supermarket to pick up a few things when he noticed an old lady following him around. Thinking nothing of it, he ignored her and continued on. Finally, he went to the checkout line, but she got in front of him.

“Pardon me,” she said, “I’m sorry if my staring at you has made you feel uncomfortable. It’s just that you look just like my son, who just died recently.”

“I’m very sorry,” replied the young man, “is there anything I can do for you?”

“Yes,” she said, “As I’m leaving, can you say `Good bye, Mother!’?

“It would make me feel so much better.”

“Sure,” answered the young man.

As the old woman was leaving, he called out, “Goodbye, Mother!”

As he stepped up to the checkout counter, he saw that his total was P4,500.

“How can that be?” he asked, “I only purchased a few things!”

“Your mother said that you would pay for her,” said the clerk.

Do you know that you can tell a lot about a person’s character by how he or she acts at the supermarket? Michael Josephson from the Web Site “Character Counts” narrates his experience. Michael says:

I remember being in a crowded store that had a shortage of shopping carts. A prosperous-looking fellow and his wife were pushing a cart when another man stopped them. “Excuse me,” the second man said, “but that’s my cart.”

The first guy looked annoyed and, instead of apologizing, protested, “But someone took my cart.” His wife glared at him, and he reluctantly relinquished his ill-gotten gain.

He had ignored the age-old wisdom: “Two wrongs don’t make a right” in favor of a distorted version of the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as others have done unto you.”

Then there are the folks who change their mind about buying an item and put it on the nearest shelf, rationalizing that the store hires people to put misplaced things back. Schools employ custodians to clean the halls, but does that mean it’s okay for kids to throw their candy wrappers on the floor?

Finally, there are the express-line cheaters who enter the “10 items or less” line with 14 items because they’re in a hurry or they love having a competitive edge. They count on the fact that no one will call them on such a moral misdemeanor. And if someone does, they’re ready to play lawyer: “It depends on what you call an item. These melons are part of the fruit group so I count them as one.”

Being considerate, playing by the rules, and setting a good example are important, even in the supermarket.

Michael is right.

Our daily actions really reveal who we are.

No matter how gentlemanly we act when we are rude to the waiters, the security guards and the janitors then we are rude (period).

I don’t care how much a donation one gives, how charitable a person is or how beautifully his or her press releases. The photo-ops may be very impressive. The credentials may be very notable and the titles may be very prominent but all you need is to look at the way the person treats his family and you will have a fair indication as to the true character of the person.

Another accurate indicator is the way a person responds to money. Hah! Money is the best acid test for character.

And so, whether the issue is money, fame, power, family or something as trivial as supermarket activities, the character shows.

Do not confuse character for reputation.

Reputation is what people perceive about us whether they are right or not but character is what and who we really are when nobody is watching.

The Scriptures talk a lot about molding our character so that we may become Christ-like. And this has a practical reason because as famous basketball coach John Wooden says: “Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there.” The next time we go to the supermarket, keep our eyes open not to look at others but to watch out for ourselves.

By Francis J. Kong

Meditation: When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. – Matthew 25:31-44

You will succeed in Jesus Name!

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