A man was cleaning out his desk and found a shoe repair ticket that was ten years old. He figured he had nothing to lose, so he went over to the shop to pick up his shoes.
He presented the ticket to the repairman, who was gone for several minutes. He finally returned and said to the man, “I found your shoes; they’ll be ready next Friday.” — (Adapted) House to House Heart to Heart, Vol. 24, No. 1, pg. 7
No doubt, there were two thoughts that must have shocked the owner of the shoes. The first was that the shoe repair shop had held on to his shoes for ten years. Most businesses would have considered such items as abandoned by their owners and would have felt entitled to dispose of them in some way. However, what probably shocked him even more was that, even after ten years, the shop had still not repaired his shoes.
The man realized that it would have been foolish to lodge a complaint against the shop for not having finished the job in ten years, since he himself had valued his shoes so little that he had forgotten about them for all that time. It was only when he found the ticket that he remembered them.
The moral of this story is obvious: we can hardly expect others to regard something as important if it really isn’t important to us. We can hardly make ourselves a standard for others when our behavior is no different or no better.
The patriarch, Judah, called for the execution of his daughter-in-law, the widowed and pregnant Tamar, until it was revealed that she had conceived by him. To his credit, he released her from the death sentence, saying, “She is more righteous than I” (Genesis 38:24-26). Also, when David exposed his hypocrisy by calling for the punishment of a rich man who had stolen and killed a poor man’s ewe lamb, even though he had taken for himself the wife of Uriah, whom he arranged to have killed, the prophet Nathan condemned him with the very poignant words, “You are the man” (2 Samuel 12:1-7).
Therefore, if we want others to convert to Christ, we must first make sure that WE have been converted! If we want others be good, truthful, and righteous, we must be the same. Wherever and whenever we seek improvement, we must begin looking for it within ourselves. If we would make of ourselves a fountain flowing with encouragement for the refreshing goodness we wish to see in others, we must remember that goodness, like water, cannot be expected to rise any higher than its source.