Honesty is next to Godliness

Originally Appeared in : 9812-6/7/18

No three words elicit more joy in the hearts of homeschooling families than: Used. Book. Sale.


With the largest “Used Book Sale” in Middle Georgia filling up an entire building at the Georgia National Fairgrounds, the Halcombe Homeschool wagon train headed west in search of lightly used copies of teacher manuals; first, second, fifth and tenth grade workbooks; any other assortment of classics and, of course, any Catholic tome we could find for $3 or less.


That meant a resounding “No,” to expertly hung doors or professionally removed popcorn ceilings, when the cover of the “Home Depot: Home Improvement, 1-2-3” manual revealed $5 instead of $3, and several, “Thanks, but no thanks,” to a plethora of princess paperbacks snuck into our collapsible wheely crate by a certain brown-haired, blue-eyed princess in the making.


As more of a, “I’m sure I can find that on ‘Mysteries at the Museum,” or, “Isn’t that why we have History Channel?” kind of guy, I showed my impartiality to the book scavenger hunt by volunteering to supervise the one-and-under crowd from the comfort of our wagon.


From that point forward, Magan and the kids went dark like Seal Team Six headed into the book bunker, and I was left to wait patiently for any updates as episodes of Team Umizoomi streamed across the iPad. 


An hour and a half later, Magan sent out a “Checking out.” text that was followed by several children sprinting out of the automatic sliding doors towards the stroller I had unfurled and loaded with babies after Isaac had Un-Umifriend-ed Milli, Geo and Bot with successive caveman slaps to the tablet 20 minutes earlier.


The cloudy afternoon had given way to a full-blown thunderstorm, so Magan and I tag-teamed like the Hart Foundation to wrestle every under-10 child into their carseat while Noah and Simon completed negotiations with the retirees working the cash register on a fair settlement for our literary loot.


“I can’t wait to show you what all we found,” Magan said, before rattling off a litany of titles and an, “Oh, we also found a hardcover ‘Bibleforce’ book for Jesse, a hardcover collection of Disney short stories that hadn’t been touched, ‘A Child’s First Book of Saints, ‘Draw and Tell Sacraments,’ and Simon even found him his own New American Bible.”


A few minutes later, Noah and Simon threw the haul into the back and dove into the van like a pair of bank robbers, but little did we know the exact opposite had taken place at the money box.
“They were trying to charge us 10 bucks,” Noah said, shaking his head, “but I told them I thought it was a lot more than that because we had a ton of books. It was actually like 100 bucks.”


Magan and I just looked at each other and smiled, before I said, “Very good job.”


Noah had shown a level of character that would have been easy to relax for many because, well, “Nobody would have known, would they?” Noah knew better, though, leaning on James 4:17 (“Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin”). Romans 14:23 says similar adding, “If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.”


More important than adhering to a code of honesty, however, Noah was actually showing an increased level of love towards his neighbors while clinging to the eighth and tenth commandments.


Saint Paul spoke of this “spiritual nature” in his epistle to the Galatians, saying that a life focused on it would produce “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”


The whole incident has me itching to read a particular short story in the “Rare Catholic Stories” book Magan brought home to read aloud to the kids for a buck and a half. The title? “Honesty Rewarded.” For as we all know, an honest life’s reward is an eternity with our Holy Father in heaven.


Jason Halcombe has five sons and two daughters. He and his wife, Magan, are members of Immaculate Conception Church, Dublin.

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