It was a hot summer night in 1964 when a group of my high school friends and I were cruising around our hometown of Plano, Texas. Back then it was small, and there wasn’t much to do. That’s usually when a group of guys does something that they shouldn’t, and this night was no exception for our group.

Driving down the 15th street, we decided that a slice of watermelon sounded pretty good on this hot night. Unfortunately, cruising around after 10:00 in 1960’s Plano meant that all the stores closed early. That’s when we spotted the 7-11.

I honestly don’t remember if it was a 7-11 for sure, but at any rate, sitting in front of the store was a big pile of watermelons, unattended and unguarded with a sign stating “97 cents each” on the wall behind them. This was when the group in the car went into a “Mission Impossible” mode. Fortunately, I don’t remember who was in the car so I cannot implicate them and besides the “statute of limitations” has probably run out. Anyway, the driver of the car pulled into the parking lot about 10 feet from the pile of melons. His job was to keep the motor running.

I was in the backseat driver’s side. My job was to keep my eyes pointed west to warn the group if a car was coming. The front passenger stood by the door looking east for the same thing. The back, right passenger when the coast cleared, sprinted to the pile of melons, grabbed the biggest he could see and raced back to the car, watermelon in hand. With the melon tossed in the back seat, the sprinter and two lookouts hopped back into the car, and the driver quickly but quietly eased back onto the main thoroughfare heading west. It went off perfectly. It was a successful raid, unnoticed and unknown by anyone but those in the car.

The criminals headed west to the city park. We pulled up to a picnic area, took out the melon, sliced, and ate. It was the worst tasting watermelon that I had ever eaten; not because it was a bad melon, but the guilt I felt for having done something I knew was wrong was so intense, I just didn’t feel like eating the prize. I never did it again.

Paul wrote, in 2 Corinthians 1:12 “Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, in the holiness and sincerity that are from God. We have done so not according to worldly wisdom but according to God’s grace.”

To live like Christ, we must have a clear conscience, one that listens to God and not the world. God gives us a conscience to help remind us of what is right and wrong. Because of this, it’s important that we learn to listen to our inner being, which is constantly reminding us of what we were taught.

Ninety-seven cents is not much from a monetary standpoint, but it’s a fortune from a Godly standpoint. You see, it’s not the amount that made it wrong; it was the action. My conscience was telling me this that night in the park over 50 years ago, and it reminds me of it even today.

Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ



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