I’m going to tell you the story of a man who was an outwardly moral guy for most of his life. You can call him Mr. Harriot. He thought he was going to go to heaven because he didn’t do all the bad things that other people did. His life wasn’t horrible, but it certainly wasn’t great either. He was really hoping for an opportunity to become something in the world.
Then one day the Lord called him and his whole life changed. He began to be discipled and was hearing God’s Word. He quickly increased in his knowledge of the truth. He thought about helping the poor and doing good things like that. He joined a group of evangelists who would travel from place to place sharing the gospel and staying wherever they could. He thought that doing ministry was going to be his way of becoming somebody and being successful.
When he was invited to go on a mission trip. he took the opportunity. While on the trip, he was taught to cast out demons. He was kind of unsure whether it would work, but sure enough, he tried it, and he actually cast a demon out of someone. He was amazed that God used him to do such a thing. He had never felt so powerful.
Coming back from the mission trip, the ministry and discipleship continued and he kept learning more and more. The other Christians he knew respected Mr. Harriot. He was glad to belong to this group of people. Since those he ministered with thought highly of him, they decided to put him in charge of the team’s finances. They trusted him to keep track of any donations that came in and to keep all the money in one place so that when they needed to give to someone, they could. The members of the ministry also needed to pay taxes. It was his job to kept track of how much they owed. This was a major responsibility. He was proud that they chose him. You could see it in the way that he walked.
He started out doing a great job. He tried to not think about the temptation to steal some of the money. The thought of doing so would just pop into his mind sometimes. He tried not to think about it, but it just kept happening. He began to think about whether it really would be wrong for him to take a little money to buy something small for himself, since hey, didn’t he deserve some reward for being the one to have to handle the finances?
This seemed pretty justified in his mind so one night, when his friends were asleep, he took a little of the team money and hid it in his belt. Thing went on as usual. No one knew that when he bought himself something the next day he was really spending the team’s money. It kind of gave him a thrill that he didn’t expect. He liked the feeling. He knew that if his teammates ever found out what he was doing, they would call it stealing, but he preferred to think of it as the wages the team owed him. This went on for a long time. He was glad that no one had caught him.
Now the local government was sometimes hostile when they would preach and share their message with people. A couple of the team members were warned to stop but they kept preaching anyways. It got so bad that the leader of their ministry was wanted for questioning by some of the officials.
Now by this time, Mr. Harriot had grown dissatisfied with his ministry leader. He thought they would be on to bigger and better things by now, but he kept teaching about humility and service. Not much had changed in the last couple years. He really didn’t see how this teacher was benefiting his life anymore. He wasn’t really sure why, but his general dissatisfaction with him suddenly increased one day to the point that he wouldn’t care if he did get arrested, or worse.
He decided to go to the authorities and see if they would give him some reward money for helping them arrest this “criminal.” They were willing and an amount was agreed upon. There was the additional thought that he might be able to get a better paying job with the authorities after they found out that he was a cunning individual willing to get his hands dirty.
The first part of his plan was executed perfectly. He helped the authorities arrest his leader and he received the money. Then he waited to see what would happen next. To his shock, the trial did not go as planned. His leader was silent and did not defend himself as they hurled accusations at him. He was condemned on violation of a blasphemy law and given the death penalty. Mr. Harriot couldn’t believe it. He definitely didn’t like him and all, but it was never his plan to kill him. With this massive guilt hanging over him, he tried to give back the money. It was too late. He found himself a tree and hung himself.
And that was the end of his life, on earth.