How you behave when you are alone is real you

When we raise our children, one of the first things that we teach them is about the existence and nature of God. The theological words are omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient. These words simply mean that God is all powerful, everywhere present and all knowing.

With our children we tried to teach these truths in a way that would be comforting, not condemning. In other words, God’s power, presence and knowledge should promote consolation, not fear. We didn’t want them to visualize a critical, harsh, judgmental God looking over their shoulder, but a loving God who would watch over and care for them. We wanted them to envision a father figure, not a cosmic cop.

We hoped that an early understanding and acceptance of a biblical concept of God would positively affect their self image and behavior. I remember teaching that there is always an audience of one, even when we think we are all alone.

Isn’t it interesting that the first principle taught to children is often the first one discarded by adults? Many tend to live as if they will not be found out or caught for anything if they are sneaky and secretive enough about how their misdemeanors are conducted.

For example, a surprisingly high percentage of those selected for income tax audits are found to have been dishonest or to have deliberately withheld information. When found out, though obviously in the wrong, they often become angry, defensive and argumentative. They typically rationalize their dishonesty by statements like, “Canadians pay too many taxes anyway!”

I once heard about a man who was feeling badly about lying on his income tax. He sent a note to Revenue Canada explaining that his dishonesty on his tax returns was bothering him. He wrote, “I have enclosed a check for $500.00. If I still feel bad I will send the other $1000.00.” Too close to the truth to be fully humorous perhaps?

Someone has said that we will know how good of a person we are by what we think, say and do when we are all alone; when we think there is no one watching or hearing us.

Perhaps it would help if we added to the “omni” list that God is also all loving and in His benevolence He says, “I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:11).

— Pastor Ross Helgeton is senior pastor at Erskine Evangelical Free Church