Deuteronomy 22:1-3 – A Tale of Two Cameras In Tokyo

Posted: March 14, 2017 in Book of Deuteronomy
Tags: , , ,

Deuteronomy 22:1-3

Returning Lost Property

Have you ever been walking along the sidewalk and you see a $20 bill laying on the ground? You quietly pick it up and quickly stuff in your pocket and look around suspiciously to see if anyone saw you pick it up. Assessing that this not some Candid Camera or Punk’d  prank, you quickly walk along thinking of how fortunate you are. Have you ever wondered what happened to the person who lost the $20 bill? Or did you just think of how fortunate you are and spend it on something frivolous?

 

We have all found money before in public places and the money has no identification with it. What did you do? What’s the right thing to do? What do you do if you say find a camera in a chair at a public train station or in the back of a taxi? What do you do? Cash or property, what do you do? What if it were a significant amount of money (say a wad of $100 bills rolled up in a rubber band) or some fancy, expensive item that a person would truly miss? What would you do?

 

Elena and I had this issue happen to us while we were on our first (and her only) visit to Japan in February 2010 (the ultimate parent company of Fujikura America, Inc. that I work for here in the States is Fujikura, Ltd. Headquartered in Tokyo). I have been to Japan two other times after that, but on this first visit to Tokyo for my job, we had a profound experience with regard to personal property. Within the first 24 hours that we were in Japan, Elena lost her digital camera in Tokyo Station (the largest train station in Japan, and probably one of the largest in Asia). The night before, after we had landed at Narita Airport and had taken the one of the buses to Tokyo Station’s bus terminal and then gotten a cab to take us to our hotel the financial district of downtown Tokyo, I had lost my own digital camera in the backseat of that cab. Neither of us even noticed it when we got out of the cab. When Elena lost her camera at Tokyo station, she was being escorted by one of the ladies from the corporate finance group at Fujikura, Ltd. around the sites of the city. So, they were on and off the subways all day. Elena did not realize that she had left her camera in one of the waiting area seats at Tokyo Station until several hours had passed.

 

Here we are, both of us losing our digital cameras (which were pretty cool gadgets back in 2010), within 24 hours of each other, in Tokyo. Tokyo, as of 2016, is the largest urban area in terms of population in the world. It has overtaken Mexico City as the world’s largest urban area. Back in 2010, it was still a very large city, the second largest behind Mexico City. To give you scale, Tokyo’s urban area has about 25 million people – that’s three times larger than New York City. It’s big! Really big! It is a mass of humanity and steel. In the mass of humanity and steel, what do you think happened? In a faceless, nameless, anonymous mass of one of the top two population centers in the world, what would you expect? In America, even here in the South (where we pride ourselves on our honor and on the reputation of our families), you would never see those cameras again. In New York City, you could fohget about dit! Nowhere in America, rural or urban, would I have expected to find those cameras again. However, the people of Japan are just different I guess. In each case, the finders of our cameras (the taxicab driver with my camera, and some anonymous stranger with Elena’s camera, both turned in the cameras to the lost and found, one at the cab company, the other at the lost and found office at Tokyo Station). Both of us got our cameras back! Un-wait for it-believable. That was the most amazing thing I had ever heard of. I thanked God for the honor of those people involved that I did not even know. I then began to question myself as to what I would have done in the same situation?

 

What would I do and what would you do? That memory of the honor of two Japanese people in the largest city in the world came rushing back when I read through the passage for today, Deuteronomy 22:1-3. Let’s read it now together:

 

22 If you see your fellow Israelite’s ox or sheep straying, do not ignore it but be sure to take it back to its owner. 2 If they do not live near you or if you do not know who owns it, take it home with you and keep it until they come looking for it. Then give it back. 3 Do the same if you find their donkey or cloak or anything else they have lost. Do not ignore it.

 

In this passage, the Isrealites were to care for and return lost animals and any other possessions to their rightful owners. The of the world, by contrast, has the philosophy of “finders keepers, losers weepers” for the most part. As children of God, we are expected to go beyond the pale to return things that don’t belong to us to their rightful owners. What if that wad of cash that you found was somebody’s down payment on a surgery that their spouse needed and they did not have any insurance. Maybe, they did have insurance but the spouse has cancer and the medical bills, even with insurance, are massive. What right do we have to claim that money because of a momentary second of carelessness by the rightful owner. We should always be thinking of others rather than just ourselves. We should have honor enough to try to figure out who the rightful owner is.

 

We can inform authorities that we have property that has been found, leave our contact information, and pray that the rightful owner contacts us. If they don’t contact you within say 30 days, then, contribute the money to your church or a charity in full. These are just practical things that we can do. You don’t even have to be a Christ follower to do these things.

 

However, as Christ followers, we should be setting the example of doing the right thing even when no one is looking. We should be living lives marked by integrity and consistency of that integrity. We should be the standard setters for ethical behavior. People often scratch their head as to why all the events that LifeSong holds on campus are free to the public. They wonder why we would do that. It is because we, as Christ followers, set the standard for uncommon love and uncommon generosity and uncommon integrity. We do these things, like returning lost property to the rightful owner (when we could have easily pocketed the money or property), because we want to draw people unto Christ and we do it in ways that make people want to know this Jesus. It’s all about him. How well do you represent Him? How well do I?

 

Amen and Amen.

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