Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Lessons From a Video Game:
A Test of Integrity, a Temptation to Sin, God’s Grace, and the Depravity of Man

One of the liberties that I enjoy in this world is playing video games. Now, I don’t play all of the time nor do I play when I have other responsibilities at hand (family, work, etc) and I try to maintain a “no Bible – no gaming” policy in my life. That being stated, I recently ordered a new game from Amazon.com. As far as video games go, I am not the kind of person who will purchase and play a handful of games at a time, and then get tired of them and trade them in for new ones. I’ll usually purchase a new game every once in a while and play it until a different one that I’m really interested in comes out. And over the past few years, I think I’ve purchased about six games in the past (almost) two years.

I was eagerly anticipating the arrival of my shipment but my wife was at home when it was delivered while I was at work. During our conversation on the phone, I heard my eldest son remark that he and his brother could both pick up the smaller of the two (I ordered a new computer monitor too) packages. I laughed because the package should weigh much less than a pound, but then my wife corrected me and said that it was rather heavy. In fact, she wondered if I had accidentally ordered some books instead of my video game.

Curiously, I asked her if she would open the box to verify that I had received the video game. She opened it up and read, “Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare” to verity that it was what I wanted. Happily I confirmed with her, but I was still curious as to why the container was so heavy. She opened up an outer shell of the box and said, “Well, it is the right game for the Xbox 360. But there are one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven,…twelve copies of it here.”

So I knew that I had only been charged for one game, and it seemed that the warehouse had sent me one package of the game instead of one game, so here was my dilemma. I kid you not, but before my wife was even done telling me that I had received 12 copies, my brain had computed that the extra “free” games that I’d received had a retail value of about $660! Here’s the test of my integrity. I didn’t pay for them, the invoice didn’t say that I had received more than one copy, so what do I do?

Before I tell you what I did, let me tell you that I did pose this question to a number of my co-workers and friends and I was somewhat shocked by what reaction I got. When I setup the scenario, it was a basic “What would you do?” question. I made it clear that I didn’t want to hear what they thought people should do, but rather what these same people would do.

My completely unofficial survey of about one dozen people ended with most of them asking me to give them a copy of the game for free and most of them saying that they would have sold the extra games on E-Bay for some quick cash (a thought that had crossed my mind). I was shocked by one answer in particular though. Two people, who I asked at different times, actually told me “take the moral high road” and call Amazon to tell them that I had received six copies and needed to return five. Other than my initial disgust over the compromise, I was very shocked to see that two people had the exact same numerical compromise. But furthermore, they thought that it was a “good” thing to do because they would be returning some of the merchandise that the company would otherwise not have had.

So I ask you. If this situation presented itself, what would you do?

Well, thankfully after only a brief internal struggle over what to do I contacted Amazon, told them of the error, and was setup to return the merchandise. Even when I was struggling, it was not with whether it would be right or wrong to just keep the games and sell them or give them away, but I hoped that I couldn’t get a hold of someone or that they would not make me send them back. It was foolishness, really. In all of this, I believe that I saw a truth of Scripture come to be fulfilled in my life.

“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

I was tempted, but God did provide a way of escape so that I could come through this trial and not fall, at least not totally. Praise God that I passed that test. But with this victory over temptation, I know that every fiber of my natural being desperately wanted to capitalize on the situation, make some quick cash, and spend it on other things that I wanted. Praise God that He has delivered me in the face of this small temptation but has, at the same time, kept my pride in check to know that without Him and His provision, I would not have passed the test. May You keep me strong and vigilant in my war with sin.

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