The other day, I drove through the neighborhood as the elementary school dismissed. I chuckled when I noticed one particular boy. Once he was out of sight of the police officer directing traffic, he removed his bicycle helmet and hung it from the bike’s handlebars.
However, after he turned onto my street, things changed. He placed the helmet on his head. A few houses later, he pulled to the curb and tightened the straps under his chin.
When he believed no one was watching, he acted one way. When he knew there was the possibility his parents might see him, he acted another. Obedience had nothing to do with it. Doing the right thing had nothing to do with it. Getting caught had everything to do with it.
While I found the incident rather humorous, it led me to wonder. How often do I, do we, behave one way when we believe no one’s watching, and behave another way when we believe they are? Not really out of obedience to God or out of love for him, but out of the fear of being reprimanded for not wearing our helmets?
We don’t need to look further than the third chapter of Genesis to see this played out in the lives of Adam and Eve. After they were deceived by the serpent, they tried to hide from God. Things did not work out as they thought they would.
When the LORD told Abraham he and Sarah would have a son in a year’s time in Genesis 18, Sarah laughed. She thought God wouldn’t hear. Guess what? God heard.
Before we leave the book of Genesis, there’s the story in Genesis 37 of Joseph and his ten older brothers. Out of jealousy, and believing no one would find out, they threw Joseph into a dry cistern. They planned on leaving him there and concocted a wild story to tell their father Jacob about how Joseph died. But then some Ishmaelite merchants traveling to Egypt arrived. The older brothers sold their younger know-it-all brother into slavery. The going price? Twenty shekels of silver. They didn’t think anyone would find out. Boy were they wrong. What they planned for evil when no one was watching, God planned for good.
The Bible is filled with stories like these where people thought they could do whatever they wanted when they believed no one was watching. The Israelites and that golden calf of theirs recorded in Exodus 32. Jonah and the large fish he found himself taking up residence in recorded in the book of Jonah. Ananias and Sapphira and their land deal recorded in Acts 5 shortly after the New Testament Church began.
Regardless of the situation or reason, when we act as if no one’s watching and do wrong, we forget a very important fact. We can’t fool God. God sees. God hears. God knows. We show our love for God through our obedience, whether anyone sees us or not.
Instead of removing our helmet when we think no one’s watching and then putting it on when we think they are, what say we act like God’s watching? Because, you know, he really is. Not as someone looking to punish, but as someone who loves us too much to allow us to harm ourselves through disobedience.
Which story in the Bible about someone doing something when they think no one’s watching is your favorite?
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Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and my Father and I will come to them and live with them. Those who do not love me do not obey my teaching. And the teaching you have heard is not mine, but comes from the Father, who sent me.” John 14:23-24 (GNT)
I wish you well.
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