When nobody is watching

By Denae Jones – 

I was recently on a business trip in Charleston, South Carolina, and we did a lot of walking around to see the beauty of it. It doesn’t even look like you are in a city. Most of it looks like you are walking through a small, European village. It’s rich in history and full of family-friendly things to do. If you’ve never been, I encourage you to put it on your list.
Like any city, at certain times of day you would come across a homeless person with a sign asking for money for food. I tried to keep some bills in my pocket so that I could give something to each of them. I hadn’t noticed, but I guess a man and his family had been walking behind me for several blocks and observed what I was doing. When we were waiting for the sign to change to cross a street, he said, “Why do you keep doing that? They probably make more money begging than they would if they went out and got a job.” His wife and kids were looking at me like I was an idiot that just got duped. They stood, waiting for my reply. I looked at the man and said, “How do you know?” He continued, “They’re all the same. Probably just buying drugs, not food.” This time, I looked at all of them. I said, “But how do you know? It’s not up to me to figure out what they do with that money. It’s up to me to do good. I know I did the right thing. What they do with it after that is between them and God.” The light changed and we parted ways.
Several hours later, on my way back to my hotel, I saw that same family across the street from me. One of the sons was lagging behind. As they passed a homeless man asking for money to get some eggs, the young man quickly, without being seen, dropped a bill into the man’s hand. My heart smiled.
I don’t tell that story to pat myself on the back, because honestly, I could have done more. I passed the same, little old man every day for a week and never really spoke to him. Why not? He was sweet and harmless and probably not really seen by many people. He might have enjoyed the conversation more. But I didn’t know what to say, so I said nothing. I know that if I had sat next to that man and talked with him a while, I probably would have been met with a degree of disapproval from others. However, I would rather get disapproval from them for doing the right thing than to get disapproval from God for doing the wrong thing. Yes, I could have done more. We should never let ourselves get tired of doing good.
While standing in the TSA line at the airport, two teenagers were just in front of me. I guess they had taken the same selfie at the same place and posted it at the same time on Facebook. They were competing to see who got the most ‘likes’. It was funny watching how excited they got when the number would change. It made me think. When we post things on social media, we know others will be looking at it. But how do we act when nobody is looking? What do we do to get ‘likes’ from God?
And if we’re going to follow the culture in things like social media, why not post things that will be uplifting and positive? That doesn’t mean it all has to be happy, filtered, beautiful things that make a great hi-light reel. Just something that will help others and not tear them down. For example, I have a few friends that are dealing with cancer and tumors and other serious medical issues, and they post about their struggles and progress in beating these horrible diseases. Even in their pain and fear and heartache, they still post in a way that encourages others. It shows that what God can do for them is bigger than anything that has happened to them. It’s not filtered and flowery and pretty. It’s raw. It’s real. They are champions and overcomers, and they are showing others how to do the same. We don’t all have to be in the same circumstance to be feeling the same kind of hurt. The extent of the light they show through their darkness is immeasurable. I know God is giving them ‘likes’ in their book of life.
When I was walking in Charleston, I had no idea anyone was watching what I did. When that man called me out, it didn’t embarrass me. It only challenged me more. It made me reflect on what more I could actually be doing. How can I get more ‘likes’ from the One that really matters? So my challenge to you is this. Ask yourself how you behave when you think nobody is watching? Then behave as if Someone always is. Because they always are.
Have a blessed week, everyone!