The other day I was driving to church and was pulled over by the police. This happened before at the same location. It was a random police check for explosives. I recognized one of the policemen. He was older, and I remembered him for being very professional. Unfortunately another, younger policeman came to my car.
The car inspection was first. I got out and opened the car’s boot. That was no problem since it’s their job to look for bombs, and that keeps the city (and me) safe from terrorists. Then came the request to see my passport. I expected an unusual demand or two since they are tests to see how people react (a real bomber would get nervous). Since I didn’t have my passport, the policeman then threatened to take me to the central police station. I figured that was just another test.
Then the policeman wanted to get in the car with me. I’ve heard of policemen doing this before, so the request was not so unusual. When he got in the car with me, the young policeman made two clear and unmistakable requests for a bribe.
Then I snapped. I looked at him in the eyes and said, “I don’t pay bribes. I’m a Christian, and Jesus told the soldiers that they should be content with their wages.”
The policeman had a look of surprise on his face and then began to listen intently.
“The soldiers were not paid well, and sometimes their pay was late,” I continued. “I don’t think you are well enough, and I don’t think I’m paid well enough. This month I am short. But Jesus told us to be content with what we are paid.”
I finished by telling him that he should trust God to meet his needs but that I’d pray for his job advancement. The policeman thought for a moment and then released me.
Most Ugandans are not paid very well, and the cost of living is high. Rent, food, and transportation are expensive (petrol is now $5.85 a gallon). Making ends meet can be difficult.
Still, the Bible teaches us to be content with how much we are paid and to not be greedy.
Jesus’ statement to the solider is from Luke 3:14. 1 Timothy 6:6-8 reads “Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.” This is a good reminder for all of us.
New Missionary to Uganda