Recently, a friend of mine was talking with me about "what counts as wrong". She was really mulling some serious stuff over and was sharing her heart about a thing with which, I think, we all wrestle.
"If I do a wrong thing and no one sees me do it... and no one else gets hurt... is it still wrong?"
The short answer is: Yes!
But really, it's not just an issue of "good" or "bad". I think it's more of an issue of the heart. I think that the person we are when others are not around is the Real Us. The person I am when I'm alone... when I'm not trying to make a good impression, or have good manners, or be the girl who tells funny stories, or doing my best at something in order to get kudos later... the stripped down version of me is the REAL ME. Me in the simplest form.
Our character is revealed when we think no one sees us.
I've written about examining my own heart and seeing where I haven't made the best choices. The story of Jonah seriously makes me check myself when I start to get a big head about who is and isn't worth my time or worthy of my concern. For whatever reason, this topic seems to come up in my heart and head a LOT. I want to keep track of what the heck is hanging out in my heart. I want to clean house whenever I need to so that my heart will look more like my Creator's and less like some hot mess that life has beat up.
I've been through some pretty heavy stuff in my short lifetime but, I don't think God gives us a pass when it comes to poor choices because we've been hurt.
Because we've ALL had a broken heart. All of us. It doesn't make us special. Sometimes we act like it does. Sometimes we act like we can do whatever we want, treat others however we want to, exercise no restraint or self control, with no regard for how those kinds of choices affect others simply because X, Y, and Z have happened... and X, Y, and Z are really bad!
I'll be honest. I've totally done that. I've used other people's meanness and some of life's tragic happenings as an excuse to be a first class ass. I've been mean. I've been vindictive. I've been bitter.
People and circumstances reveal what the contents of our heart are.
I've been wrong.
I've let my mouth run away with me. Have you ever done that? Have you ever said something that just seemed to skip right off your tongue so easily but, then it fell with an awful, resounding THUD once it was out and you just wished you could take it back?
I've done that. It sucks.
What comes out of your mouth is already in the root of your heart.
In Matthew 12:34 (NCV) Jesus actually said "The mouth speaks the things that are in the heart."
The question about whether or not something wrong I do is still wrong if no one sees me do it is really a question of integrity.
Do I really possess integrity?
Integrity is not only being disciplined and exercising restraint. Sure that's a part of it but, only a part. The definition of integrity involves being solid in construction; a condition of honesty with moral uprightness; living unimpaired. It encompasses quite a lot when it comes to how you could apply it to your life and heart. It isn't just "rule following" for the sake of following rules. It's actually having a moral code so firmly rooted in your heart and mind that it becomes your nature.
You don't fake integrity. It's how you really are. It's a natural behavior that's rooted in moral uprightness.
If you're just going through the motions, that's not integrity.
The One Who Holds Me Accountable isn't you.
Ultimately, you're opinion about whether I'm a big fat jerk or totally fabulous doesn't matter. As much as I'd like for you to like me, there's only one Judge and it ain't you.
It also isn't me. So, I don't get to point any fingers in your direction one way or another either.
God is the Only One who gets to cast judgement.
Hebrews 4:13 (NCV) says it like this: "Nothing in all the world can be hidden from God. Everything is clear and lies open before Him, and to Him we must explain the way we have lived."
If God really never sleeps... if His eyes are really always watching over us... if He really sees into the deepest portions of our hearts, then He sees when we're doing that wrong thing that we're insisting no one else sees. We can argue that we aren't hurting anyone but, the truth is... we're hurting ourselves. We're fooling around with our own integrity. We're making our own heart structurally unsound. And God cares about that because He's the Creator. He didn't build us so that we'd destroy ourselves. God is Love and that wouldn't be Love. We weren't built to implode.
Our hearts are valuable. They affect our actions. Their contents affect what comes out of our mouths.
"Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life." Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)
How closely are you guarding your heart?