A Word of Encouragement from Elizabeth Rice Handford

The young man’s interview with Mr. J. C. Penney had gone very well. He was being interviewed for a high-level management position, and he felt that Mr. Penney was impressed with his performance. He hadn’t yet been offered the job, but he was optimistic.

Mr. Penney took him to a cafeteria for lunch. Going down the serving line, the job-seeker picked up a pat of better and tucked it under the edge of his plate. “The cashier won’t see it,” he whispered to Mr. Penney, “so I’ll save you two cents.”

At the end of the meal, the young man asked eagerly, “Do I get the job?”

“No,” said Mr. Penney sadly. “If you cheat for a two-cent pat of butter, you’ll cheat on a hundred-thousand-dollar deal.”

“But it was just a pat of butter!”

“Yes. Just two cents. Good day, sir.”

If that young man had done his homework, he’d have known that Penney’s first store was named, “The Golden Rule.” He would have known that the most important rule of the J C Penney organization is, “To test our every policy, method, and act in this wise: Does it square with what is right and just?”

The Lord Jesus warned us,

Unless you are faithful in small matters,
you won’t be faithful in large ones.
If you cheat even a little,
you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. Luke 16:10-12

So much for the importance of a pat of butter.

God honored Mr. Penney’s commitment to honesty. During the depression, he lost nearly everything. In that time of spiritual darkness, he was admitted to a sanitarium. Early one morning he heard the doctors and nurses singing in the chapel,

“Be not dismayed whate’er betide; God will take care of you.
Beneath His wings of love abide; God will take care of you.:

Then he heard someone read from the Bible:

Come unto me all you that are heavy laden,
And I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

Mr. Penney wrote that he realized that day that all his life he had been striving to honor God with his business, but now it was time to rest in the Lord’s grace. “I cried inwardly, ‘Lord, will You take care of me? I can do nothing for myself.’ I felt I was passing out of darkness into light.” Later he wrote, “I’ve been a different person ever since I saw God in His glory.”

What a comfort it is to remember that God will honor us when we honor Him, even in small matters like a pat of butter. That’s still true, even in these chaotic, stressful days when often dishonesty in business dealings is taken for granted. We must always do the right, honorable thing and God will take care of us.