When No One is Looking
Nov 28, 2022 429
What do you do when no one is looking? That might seem an odd and perhaps confronting question, but it is an important one.
Integrity is an old-fashioned word, and some people think it’s a concept that’s had its day and isn’t relevant any more.
Integrity refers to being honest and having strong moral principles. It refers to being whole and complete.
A person with integrity can typically be relied on to act in a consistently honest and principled way no matter the situation. Here’s another way of looking at it: they will act the same when no one is watching them as when they are under the spotlight.
As a little kid, my parents taught me to be scrupulously honest and I was very proud of myself for being so.
When I was perhaps nine years old, I bought some hot potato chips in a Greek-owned takeaway shop. I’m talking about back in the 1970’s when many of the takeaway shops seemed to be owned by friendly Greeks, chips were wrapped in newspaper, and they cost 20 cents for a very large serving. Also, 5 cent coins were a thing.
I turned around and walked back to the shop and gave him back his 5 cents
As I walked a little way down the street with my hot potato chips, I realised that the shop owner had given me 5 cents extra change. I turned around and walked back to the shop and gave him back his 5 cents. I was very proud to hear the owner say that he had never met a boy as honest as me.
I have been known to display integrity in other areas of life since then, even as an adult. However, the truth is, as much as I hate to admit it, that my integrity hasn’t always been so great when no one has been looking.
I’m sorry, but that’s just the truth, and I think I’m not alone here. Think about what you do, what you eat, and so on, when no one is looking, compared with when you are with others? Is there a difference?
Someone with integrity will do the same things whether anyone is looking or knows about it or not, just because it is the right thing to do. What you do in the dark shows who you are in the light.
People with integrity don’t act in way in one situation and in another way in another situation. Those around them know where they stand and how the person will respond. That’s integrity. It goes well beyond just telling the truth.
God is honest with me, and I’m becoming more honest with him
Jesus taught that what you do away from the eyes of others matters. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus clearly taught about this.
The Pharisees liked to show off how good they were in public. When they gave to the needy, they made sure that they did it in public so that everyone knew. But Jesus said that we should practice our charity
…in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you (Matt. 6:4.)
The Pharisees loved to show everyone how religious they were by fasting. Jesus similarly said that they should fast in a way that it would
…not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you (Matt. 6:18.)
The same applied to praying. Jesus said,
…when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you (Matt. 6:7.)
What happens when no one is looking matters
Clearly, Jesus was saying that what matters is not so much what you show to the world, but rather who you are in private.
When your inner self is not reflected in what you show to others, you will be at war with yourself. What happens when no one is looking matters. The more that who you are in private is consistent with who you are in public, the more that you will be at peace.
I have discovered that core issues of identity and how we relate to others can only ultimately be resolved within the context of an honest and trusting relationship with God. While I still experience tension between who I am in private and who I am in public, I know that my flaws are forgiven by God, and I I am becoming more and more comfortable every day with being honest with myself and with others.
That’s all because God is honest with me and I am becoming more honest with him.
Hi Eliezer, I love reading your blogs. If integrity is related to integration then it's also about how we intergrate or hold together all the different parts of ourselves, the parts we like and those we don't like. We can only do that fully when we know God loves us unconditionally in Christ, warts and all. You bring that out so clearly in your devotionals (deep stuff) on Romans 7. Bless you for your insights and illustrations.
Dec 17, 2022
Dear Graeme - That is a great insight that you have into integrity! Grace and Peace - Eliezer