In a small town 60 years ago, two boys – we’ll call them Mike and Greg, ran to Gainey’s field to watch the traveling circus set up their giant tent. Every summer the same circus came to town. Every year Mike and Greg would rush to the opening show, no line being too long, and by the end of the night every kid in town had seen it. Three full days later, the kids had watched three full shows and the big top was packing up, ready to move on to the next small town.
This humble circus just had a little elephant, but it had a really big ring master and the best clown in the world, Eddie Spaghetti. When everyone’s favorite clown would enter the ring, the children would yell, “Eddie Spaghetti, are your meatballs ready?”
This year, after visiting Eddie Spaghetti three nights in a row, Mike and Greg were slowly walking through the circus lot, savoring the thrill of the big top. Greg’s eye caught a glimmer in the gravel. The shine was from a watch laying on the ground. A NICE watch! “Wow!” Greg showed the find to his pal.
Without hesitation, they turned around to return the item, while guesstimating the whats and wheres of the rich man that must be missing this expensive watch. Mike and Greg soon spotted a big man working near the bed of a pick-up truck and quickly recognized him. Even without his red coat and black hat the boys knew it was the mighty ring master.
“Sir?” Greg’s voice quivered.
“Hi, boys!” He seemed like a nice guy.
“Hi! We found this watch in the circus lot. Do you know who it belongs to?”
“Terrific Tigers! You found my watch! I’ve been looking for it all night.” The ring-master reached into his pocket and handed Greg 50 cents. “You guys made my night!”
“Thanks for sure!” the boys were thrilled. Fifty cents! Man! That would buy 10 candy bars! What a great reward!
Mike and Greg ran to their homes soon to be dreaming of going to the candy store the next day. When Greg got home he told his mom all about the watch and meeting the ring master.
“Do you know what you will do next time that happens?” Greg’s mom lovingly asked.
“Sure! The exact same thing.”
“No, not exactly. You will hand the monetary reward right back to that pleasant fellow and say, ‘Thank you Sir, but HONESTY is its own reward.'”
Greg has thought about that lesson from his mom for 50 years now. Reflecting on it he knows:
– My mother loved me.
– What my mother taught me was important. I want to understand it.
– My mother wouldn’t teach me anything that wasn’t true.
What do you think Greg’s mom meant?
“Honesty is its own reward.”
I have found that this concept applies to many other virtues. It feels better to be good because I love God, rather than for a temporal award. What if love was our motivation for every action? What would that look like for you? Feel like? Are you ready to be honest? Are you ready to be honest with yourself? Are you ready to do the right thing out of love for God and your neighbor?
Eddie Spaghetti, Are your meatballs ready?
“Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you. They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret; and they Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.” Matthew 6:2-4