When No One is Looking

church buried in snowThere is an old saying – “Character is what you do when no one is looking.” It was popularized by the man who wrote God’s Little Instruction Book. Henry Ford used a version of it when, speaking about quality, said, “Quality means doing it right when no one is looking.” The question comes, what do I do when no one is looking?

On Sunday we had one of those rare winter mornings when the snow comes at the exact wrong time for a church. What is the exact wrong time for snow to come? The exact wrong time for snow to come is midnight to noon on Sunday morning. It’s a bad time for the church because you can’t make a decision about the parking lot until that morning. It’s an even worse time for the community because roads and driveways are horrible until the snow begins to taper off.

That was Sunday. Now, I am an old-fashioned pastor. I believe two things about the Sunday morning service – 1) We should offer it for any and all who should come, and 2) People should decide for themselves if it is unsafe to drive because church attendance is not mandatory. What does this mean? This means that if I can get to church, our church is open every Sunday morning. What did it mean this Sunday? It meant that my family was the only one at church! No one at Sunday school. No one at our fellowship time. No one at worship. Just my family.

If there is ever a test of your character, it is when the voice in your head tells you that it won’t matter if you follow through on your convictions because no one will benefit even if you do. When it’s just your family, does it really matter? Those of you who know me personally know what I did. I am “almost” irritatingly consistent in my behavior. I just can’t help it. It is who I am. So, yes, we did have worship. I let my college and high-school aged children pick a few hymns and focused my sermon on one of the supporting texts from the planned sermon on Joshua. However, I must confess that I did wonder if it was worth it. I wondered if we should all have just gone home for cocoa and a snowball fight.

1 Peter 2:12 Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.

Then it happened. I had just read the passage for our Scripture lesson when a head peaked in the door. A couple from our church had worked hard to dig out of their driveway to come and worship Jesus. They knew that they would be late, but they came anyway hoping to at least catch the sermon. They were right on time for that! It made me think… What if I had skipped worship when it was just my family? Would I have missed the opportunity to bless and be blessed Sunday?

That’s the thing about character. It’s not only what we do when no one’s looking. It is also the thing we are doing when “surprise!” we learn that someone is looking. Someone is always looking. Sometimes, that someone is the person we look at in the mirror. Sometimes, it is someone unexpected. Either way, someone is always looking.

Something to think about,

Pastor John

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