January 19, 2010

To Live is Christ — means that internals and externals match

Good manners are measured by what you do when you think no one is looking. I don’t know who said it, but I like the description. It is about integrity, about being who I am all the time, not to impress people or to appear better than I am.
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
At Christmas, some parents tell their children that Santa sees who is naughty or nice. Obviously they are hoping the child will be nice and thereby profit by their good behavior.

Some parents even tell their children that God knows what they do even if no one else can see them. Sometimes this is used as a threat, and if a child hears it often enough and takes it to heart, that child might reach adulthood immobilized by a misconception of God’s attitude toward them.

Psalm 139 tells me that God knows when I sit down or stand up, which seems a no brainer, but He also knows what I am going to do or say before I do it. Of course I agree with the psalmist that such knowledge is too wonderful for me.

The idea of an all-knowing God could be threatening. If I didn’t know that God also loves me and will forgive even my sinful thoughts, then I might cower in fear that He will be angry at me all the time. While the Bible says to fear God, He doesn’t want me to be afraid of Him in that way.

Instead, I’ve found that God wants my awe, but He also wants me to simply be honest with Him and with everyone else. Our word for that is integrity.

Integrity is illustrated in the book of Job. Although he complained (he did have a rough go of it) and had a huge pity party, God says he never lost his integrity. This puzzled me until I realized that Job was an honest man. If he felt crappy and was angry at God, he said so. He had no put-on spirituality or pious pretense in his life.

For me that means that true spirituality is also like good manners — my spiritual life could be measured by what I am thinking, saying and doing, even when no one is noticing. It is being totally transparent before God too. There is no point in a false pious demeanor in front of One who can see right through me anyway.

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