(This story first appeared in an old issue of Sports Illustrated, then published in Glad Tidings, and later appeared in the bulletin of the Huntingdon church of Christ.)
The game was played in Wellington, Florida. In it, a seven-year-old first baseman, Tanner Munsey, fielded a ground ball and tried to tag a runner going from first to second base. The umpire, Laura Benson, called the runner out, but young Tanner immediately ran to her side and said, “Ma’am, I didn’t tag the runner.” Umpire Benson reversed herself, sent the runner to second base, and Tanner’s coach gave him the game ball for his honesty.
Two weeks later, Laura Benson was again the umpire and Tanner was playing shortstop when a similar play occurred. This time Benson ruled that Tanner had missed the tag on a runner going to third base, and she call the runner safe. Tanner looked at Benson and without saying a word, tossed the ball to the catcher and returned to his position.
Benson sensed something was wrong. “Did you tag the runner?” she asked Tanner. His reply, “Yes.” Benson then called the runner out. The opposing coaches protested until she explained what had happened two weeks earlier. “If a kid is that honest,” she said, “I have to give it to him.”
It may be that no Christian characteristic has suffered more in our society than honesty. It’s lacking in the workplace, it’s lacking in many of our marriages, it’s lacking in our government, and sometimes it’s even lacking in our churches. Like Diogenes of ancient Greece, we sometimes feel the urge to take our lantern and begin our search for an honest man.
There is something about Christians that should stand out like a neon sign on a dark night. Jesus wants His people to be known as a people of truth. We should establish a reputation, like Tanner, for speaking the truth even when it would benefit us to do otherwise. Then, and only then, will those around us trust what we say without hesitation, without wondering whether or not we really mean what we say.