When your sin finds you out

One of my heroes has apparently been revealed as a fraud.

I was a big fan of Lance Armstrong. I was inspired by his story of surviving serious cancer, and then coming back to win the most intense and difficult sporting event in human history, and not only win, but win seven times. He inspired me.

I do not know Armstrong personally, and I confess that I have no idea of the facts of his case. But I am saddened by it all, mostly by the “man-crush” that I carried for so long.

It seems we have seen this story before. We are no longer surprised when our elected leaders are caught taking a bribe, when the well-known minister is found at the motel with the prostitute, or when the all-star athlete cheats his fans and fellow competitors. As Moses told the people of Israel, “your sin will find you out.” (Numbers 32:23) The truth will be always laid open eventually, and we are going to be revealed for what we truly are.

I do not know too many people who deliberately create scandals for themselves. I never met anyone that woke up in the morning and said, “Today, I think I will disgrace myself in the national media.” But I have met a bunch of people who think they will get away with something, that they will not be exposed, not be caught, and no one will ever know.

In today’s world, everybody has a video phone in their pocket. Everybody. Whatever it is you are doing, you should plan for it to be on Facebook and YouTube before the sun goes down. Just assume that someone is going to capture everything that you do. You will get a half million hits. You have no secrets, you will be found out, and “I guess I wasn’t thinking about the consequences” is no longer an escape clause.


Here is an even more radical thought: if you do not want to be considered a creep, or a cheat, or a pervert, then do not be a creep or a pervert. If you want people to respect you as a good and decent person, well then, you actually kind of have to be a good and decent person. 

A life of integrity is not merely a good idea, something for all the other people in the world to strive for. Integrity, character, and living within the boundaries of polite society matter, and having your actions match your words is a priceless commodity. Because at some point, your inner self is going to be exposed to the world, and the rest of us will see what you are really made of. Be sure that your sins will find you out.

A parallel principle, also from the Bible, is the Law of the Harvest. “Whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” (Galatians 6:7) Most of us realize that when we plant some cucumber seeds in the ground eventually a cucumber plant will grow and we can enjoy a nice salad. Likewise, if we sow the seeds of truth, integrity and character in our lives, we should be able to enjoy the reputation that comes with being an honest person. Why then, when we plant a crop of lies, deceit or crookedness in our lives should we be surprised when those things come back to harm us?

If the thing that you are considering would embarrass you in front of the media or your grandmother; if the thing that you are thinking about doing might make the lead story on Entertainment Tonight, a Jay Leno punch line or be a topic in the blogosphere, then maybe the smart move would be to do something else.

 

— Brian Hotaling is the pastor at Charles Town Baptist Church.

 

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