Religion Today: Short Accounts

Guest Writer Spotlight: Short Accounts – By Richard Lewis

The story is told of a new clerk who waited on an old man at the country store. Once all the items on the shopping list were gathered up on the counter, the young clerk asked the standard question, “Mr. Simmons do you want to put this on your account?” The old man smiled and said, “No thanks Sonny, I like to keep short accounts with God and with man.”

After the clerk completed the transaction, the man’s goods were loaded in his truck and he drove away, the clerk asked the store owner what the man had meant by “short accounts”.


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The store owner explained it this way, “Mr. Simmons was using an accounting term when he said ‘short accounts’.

You know we have a petty cash box down on the shelf under the cash register. At the start of each month I make sure there is $200 in that box. When one of our vendors comes in that needs to get paid in cash, we get that money from the petty cash box. We take out the amount needed to pay the bill and then we put the receipt for that expense in the box. At any time during the month there should always be cash or receipts in the box that total $200.

At the end of the month, I take out the receipts to give to the bookkeeper and replenish the cash so we are back at the $200 to start the next month. If that total does not add up right then we have a “short account”.

As the store owner I have to figure out what went wrong that caused the us to be short. Usually, it is just an error where someone forgot to put a receipt in the box but it could mean something else.

“What is that?” the clerk asked.

The store owner laughed and slapped the clerk on the back as he gave the answer, “It might mean that I have a thief working for me!”

The clerk began to look really uncomfortable and decided that this was all the explanation of short accounts he wanted to hear. He excused himself to go arrange the shelves in the storage room. He remembered the $10 he had “borrowed” from the petty cash box the previous weekend to be able to take his girlfriend on a nice date.

He vowed he would replace the $10 before it was missing.

After he got paid he waited for to put the $10 back in the box and that opportunity came when the store owner left on a quick errand. Much to his horror, upon opening the box he discovered there were no receipts in the box, only fresh bills totaling $200!

He realized that it was the end of the month and the cash had been replenished. His crime of taking the $10 had already been discovered days ago! He couldn’t replace the $10 in the petty cash box now without making his crime more obvious. He needed this job and he imagined all the scandal that would take place at home and in the community when he suddenly lost his job because he was a thief.

He could not figure out what to do. To not repay the money would be wrong but to put the money in the box now might lead to more questions. He resolved he would do the right thing and put the money back no matter what the consequences.


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A few times during the next month it was agony when he had to open the cash box to pay a vendor. He would mentally total up the cash and receipts it always totaled the $200 plus the extra $10 he had repaid. He waited for the end of the month with dread. The store owner collected the box and went to his office and closed the door. The clerk waited for what would happen next. The door opened and the store owner smiled as he handed the clerk the box to put back under the counter.

The young clerk would grow up to become an outstanding young man. He would always remember the value of keeping “short accounts” with God and with man. He would confess his sin to God quickly and grant or request forgiveness to and from others.

He would recount the story at the memorial services for Mr. Simmons and then again when his old boss the store owner passed away. His grandchildren would sometimes request a retelling of the story of the “short accounts”.

The bible reminds us that God is not deceived in Galatians 6:7 “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”

We will all face judgement someday. Jesus Christ has paid the price for us. He has promised he will come again. Many of us believe that will be soon as the world seems to be spinning towards a conclusion as we are told in Hebrews 9:27-28 “Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”

Now is the time to settle our accounts with God and with man…

Richard Lewis is a graduate of Arizona State University (Advertising) and California Baptist University (Computer Information Systems). Richard and his wife Sue met while they served as staff members at Campus Crusade for Christ for 8 years in the 1970’s. Richard served in the Campus Ministry at University of Texas at El Paso, Louisiana Tech and at the International Headquarters in San Bernardino, California.

Following their ministry in Campus Crusade Richard was the owner and manager of a bicycle shop in Riverside California for 19 years. After retraining in the computer field at California Baptist University, Richard worked as a Information Systems contractor and employee at Boeing for 17 years. Richard has written over 150 published articles in Information Systems and Computing publications including Windows Magazine and Windows Scripting Solutions.  Richard has served in a leadership role as a Deacon and Elder in several churches as well as being a meditation presenter and Men’s Ministry coordinator.

Richard has written hundreds of meditations and devotionals that have been used in church and small group meetings. Many of these have been published in The Upper Room and Racers For Christ publications and on their web sites. 
In 2021 Richard published a collection of his devotionals. These are available in a Kindle and paperback format on Amazon (ISBN 979-8705738878) “Life Stories to Uplift and Encourage”.

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Trevor Montgomery, 50, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source (RCNS) and Shasta County News Source (SCNS).

Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County-based newspapers Valley News, Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; the Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County; and Mountain Echo in Shasta County. He is also a regular contributor to Thin Blue Line TV and Law Enforcement News Network and has had his stories featured on news stations throughout the Southern California and North State regions.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 30 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 18 grandchildren.