Once a famous rabbi wished to have a glimpse of peoples’ hearts and test their opinions of themselves. He called three passers-by into his house. Turning to the first man he said, “Suppose you found a purse full of gold coins, what would you do with it?”
“I would give it to the owner right away provided, of course, I knew who the owner was,” the man replied.
“Fool!” the rabbi exclaimed. Then he put the same question to the second man.
“I wouldn’t give it back to the owner. I’d put it in my pocket. I am not so stupid as to let a windfall like that slip through my hands,” and man replied.
“Scoundrel!” exclaimed the rabbi. Then he put the question to the third man.
“How can I possibly know, rabbi, what I would do in a case like that?” the man replied. “Would I be able to conquer the evil inclination? Or would the evil urge overcome me and make me take what belongs to another? I do not know. But if the Holy One, blessed be He, strengthened me against the evil inclination, I would give back the money to its owner.”
“Your words are beautiful,” the rabbi exclaimed. “You are wise indeed.”
Source | Unknown
PONDER AND CONSIDER
The first was called a fool. Why? He presumed he would be strong enough to resist the temptation to keep the money. No one is so secure that he can’t fall. People don’t fall because they are weak; they fall because they think they are strong.
The second was called a scoundrel. Why? He was prepared – without the slightest qualm of conscience – to keep what didn’t belong to him.
The third was praised. Why? He was a good and wise gentleman. He was aware of his weakness and hoped that when faced with the temptation to keep the money he would be given the strength and the vision to do the right thing.