The passage that comes to mind this morning is from Matthew chapter 6. Here, the discussion revolves around the proper ways to give, pray and fast. Should we be doing these things so that we receive the praise of those around us? Should we look so tuckered out from our long hours on our knees or our depriving ourselves of food or whatever else we are fasting from? Is it appropriate to go around boasting about all that you’ve done to serve the poor? No! Indeed what Jesus teaches us is that we will be “rewarded for that which is done in secret…” These principles are important and challenging, but this morning, I’m seeing them a step further. Slightly out of context, but not unrighteous as it is.
You know the slogan, “when the cats away, the mice will play”? Today, I had a first hand experience with that very concept and since that particular slogan isn’t exactly scriptural, the idea of what is done in secret came to mind. I realize that scripture regarding integrity would actually be a bit more fitting, but I am no Bible scholar, able to recall perfect scripture in perfect time. But God is gracious and I am grateful that the Word that is hidden in my heart is useful.
When I finally emerged from my warm bed this morning, my kids had already been up for a couple hours. They have the day off of school because of a teacher work day. I was joyful as I walked through the family room ready for a good morning hug from each of my three kids, until my eyes locked onto the very object of a lesson that I thought had been learned just the night before. My budding little 7 year old artist loves my box of Sharpie markers. Yesterday after school she was given specific instructions not once, but twice in the presence of her year-younger sister, that the Sharpies were only allowed to be used at the “art table”. Their use is limited even at that. I mean come on…the darn things are permanent and little hands are prone to the dropsies!
This morning, my eyes were drawn to the Sharpie box laid open, both girls poised with a blank piece of paper in front of them right there in front of the T.V. in the family room. I calmly reminded my sweet little artists of the rule (which by the way, is not a new rule). Then from the honest (and probably a little devious) mouth of my 6 year old came the truth that we all struggle with in one way or another. “Anna said that we could use the Sharpies out here because you were still in bed!” Dun Dun Duh! Anna was stricken in that moment. She knew she was caught and she knew she was wrong. And so goes the saying, “When the cats away, the mice will play.”
Talk about a teachable moment; Anna learned the hard lesson that a rule is a rule even if the enforcer is not present. To drive home the lesson, she is grounded from using the Sharpies until otherwise notified.
Suddenly, the truth of “what’s done in secret will be rewarded” came to mind. So if we are rewarded for what is done in secret, will we not also be disciplined for make poor choices in secret? I believe we will. And it is my job as a parent to be sure to drive these lessons home while my children are young and teachable with hope that the more difficult, more consequential lessons of life can be observed, but not necessarily experienced later on in life.