For this is what the Lord has commanded us: “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’” Acts 13:47
It’s a scandal when people waste their lives on things they must do in the darkness where no one will see. Ephesians 5:12 (The Message)
I haven’t always been truthful with my wife. Uttering these little white lies has happened on more than one occasion. In fact, I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve played dumb or attempted to change the subject to avoid being found out.
Over the years I’ve kept my indiscretions hidden. With that said, carrying this guilt has been too much for me to bear, especially in the midst of an integrity series here at church. I never thought I’d be the type of person who would do this sort of thing. But, during those moments when I felt entitled and bored is when I was most susceptible. The opportunity would present itself and I’d go back and forth on the reasons why my actions weren’t that big of a deal:
“She’ll never find out…..I’ll only do it this one time…..It’s not hurting anybody….Anyone in my position would do the same thing….It will be fun….”
The temptation would be too enticing and eventually, I would click “Watch Next Episode.” Yes, that’s right, I am a serial Netflix and Hulu cheater. One of the greatest vows you can make with your spouse is to sit down and watch your favorite show together. No skipping ahead unless each partner is present and accounted for.
Unfortunately, I’ve ignored this rule one too many times. What began as some harmless flirting of “I’ll just watch the opening for the next episode...” turned into an all-night binge-watching marathon. Before you sit there in judgment, take a look in the mirror. This type of cheating is on the rise. A recent survey showed that 48% of U.S. couples commit streaming infidelity. 63% of those surveyed said they would cheat more with the remote if they knew they could get away with it.
I think these statistics reveal a great deal about our hearts when it comes to integrity. It’s the repercussions, or lack thereof, that determine our actions. If no one will know but us, we are more willing to give in and let loose. We indulge until we are found out. We rationalize our behavior. During those moments, when our actions rise to the surface, we say we are sorry.
But, are we truly sorry, or only sorry because we got caught?
Watching an episode of This Is Us or Stranger Things without your spouse is somewhat humorous and in the realm of things, not that big of a deal. Yet, take this mindset and enter it into situations where there is more on the line. No one will be any wiser to our actions so we fudge the numbers at work. Maybe we try to control what we eat or don’t eat. Behind closed doors, at night we peruse the Internet. We let our minds wander and have hateful and bitter thoughts about others. We settle for convenience over commitment. We engage in things we are well aware of aren’t good for us.
Since no one knows, these secrets have the potential to grow in scope and size. It becomes easier to forgo our integrity. From our perspective, the worst thing that could possibly happen is for someone to find out. In actuality, that’s the best thing for us.
Isolation is integrity’s strongest enemy. Sin and struggles thrive in the darkness. When we are all alone, our deceptive heart has a captivated audience to pull the strings. Why does this matter? We can't bring the light of His love to others when we're spending our days amongst the shadows.
Our willingness to walk with integrity determines our potential influence. A hidden heart can’t be loved as well as fully invest in others. We can only love and be loved to the extent that we are known. So, today, put down the remote and come out of hiding.
Where are you most vulnerable to give into temptation if you knew you wouldn’t get caught?
Who are you behind closed doors? What keeps you from being open and honest with God and others about things you’ve kept hidden?
God, give me the courage to step out of the darkness. I’m tired of rationalizing away my behavior and justifying my actions to get rid of guilt. Deep down inside, I desire to be a person of integrity, someone who honors You in everything they do. Allow this part of me to shine today. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.