A Penny’s Worth of Honesty
February 1994

“A Penny’s Worth of Honesty,” Ensign, Feb. 1994, 37

A Penny’s Worth of Honesty

After I had completed my education, my family and I moved back to my home state, Utah, and lived with my parents until I could find a job. Our son, Paul, who was three at the time, made some friends in the neighborhood and was playing with them one fall afternoon when some apples were delivered to our neighbors. The neighbors weren’t home, so the apples were left on the porch. Paul and his friends watched this event with great anticipation. As soon as the men left, they ran to the porch and helped themselves to the apples.

Paul also brought a few home to share with his mom and grandma. When asked where he had gotten the apples, he answered that he had taken the neighbors’ apples.

My wife and I explained to him that what he had done was stealing and that Jesus taught us that stealing was wrong. We told him he needed to apologize to our neighbors for taking the apples. We suggested that he use the money he had been saving for a special toy to replace the apples he had taken.

We drove him to the store and helped him pick out the nicest apples. With tears in his eyes, he reached into his pocket to retrieve his money and pay for them.

When Paul delivered the apples to our neighbors, they helped Paul to realize that what he had done was wrong, and they told him that they hoped he would always be honest.

A few days later, Grandma invited Paul to go to the grocery store with her. At the produce section, Grandma tested a grape to make sure the bunch was ripe and sweet. Deciding that they were, she put the bunch in her shopping cart. Paul watched Grandma closely. Then he asked, “Grandma, did you pay for that grape?”

“No,” she replied.

“Does Jesus care if we steal?” Paul asked, and Grandma answered yes.

“Did you steal that grape, Grandma?”

Grandma tried to ignore the questions as they walked through the store, but Paul questioned her persistently: Hadn’t he, just a few days before, done something similar with apples and gotten into trouble? Was it okay for Grandma to take a grape and not pay for it? If so, why?

Grandma quickly finished her shopping, paid the bill, and left the store. As they drove home, Paul asked one more time if she had eaten the grape without paying for it. “Yes, Paul, I did. Do you think I should go back to the store and pay for it?”

Paul nodded his head yes, and Grandma said, “So do I.”

Although Grandma was nearly home, she turned the car around and drove back to the store. Taking Paul by the hand, she went to the clerk who had helped her before and said, “Sir, I ate a grape and didn’t pay for it. My little grandson convinced me that it was wrong and that I should come back and pay for it.” With that, she plunked a penny down on the counter.

The clerk and the people in line looked at her strangely, but Paul was beaming with pride. Despite the embarrassment that returning to the store to pay for a single grape may have caused, Grandma had helped Paul understand that Jesus wants everyone, whether young or old, to be honest.

  • Calvert F. Cazier serves as the first counselor in the bishopric of the Parkview Ward, Murray Utah Parkway Stake.