Keeping confidences and lifebuoys

William White tells a story about two men who went from house to house seeking funds to help with someone who was sick.

They went to the house of a rich man hoping he could help.

The rich man wanted to know who the sick man was. He was willing to give a financial donation. But he would be even more generous if he knew the name of the man who needed help.

“Rarely do we reveal the name of people in need. In this case it is most difficult for the man to admit he needs charity.”

But the rich man wasn’t satisfied with that response. He would give $500. But he would give $1000 if he was told the name of the person needing help.

They refused. So the offer went up to $2000, and then $3000 (which could have paid for all the man’s medical bills).

But they held fast and decided to leave, saying they would not break confidence.

Before they could leave the rich man disclosed that he recently lost every penny. He had wondered who he could go to for help but didn’t know who he could trust. 

“Now I understand,” said the visitor. “You were testing me to see if I could be trusted with your secret. I will seek funds for you as well as the man who is sick. What you have told me will be kept in confidence.”*

Proverbs 11:13 (ESV): “Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.”

Keep confidences. Keep your word. Be trustworthy. Your consistent, godly character may just be a lifebuoy to someone who is flailing in the stormy sea of life.


–*As told in: William R. White, Stories For Telling (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1986), 43-44.

–The Up Devotional is published 5 days a week (Monday-Friday) and returns on October 11, 2021.

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