When we bought our first house, we bought it as-is. We knew that included the broken glass in the back door. We just counted that as part of the price. But someone we knew gave us different advice: she said we should wait a little while, then claim the window as damage on our new home insurance.
Clearly, her plan had advantages. It had taken everything we had to get in the place. It was a miracle that we had been able to cover the bare concrete foundation with cheep flooring. To say the money would have helped is an understatement. And anyway, insurance companies are rich, right? They could hardly need it as much as we did.
A quiet phone call. That’s all it would take, and no one would know the difference. Except me. And my wife. And our friend. And God.
If nobody gets hurt, or at least not much, what’s the harm? But what if the deepest harm is inside my own heart? What if I’m the person who is hurt most by my own actions, even actions calculated to benefit me at the expense of others? Choosing to deceive the insurance company would have had a small negative effect on them, and their employees, and their other customers. For me, the effect would have been worse: deceiving them would have made me more deceptive. If I had gotten away with it (which is likely), it would have trained me and prepared me to cut more corners, betray more trusts, and use more people for my own advantage. Justifying their loss for my gain would have confirmed my naturally selfish opinion that my needs are more important than the needs of others, and more important than the truth itself. If I allow myself to justify that, then I will be able to justify anything, eventually.
Yes, the money would have been nice. But if I ever sell my integrity for the price of a glass door, or for the price of the whole world, I will lose far more than I gain.