DO YOU DO YOUR BEST EVEN IN PRIVATE? Or are you like most people: in situations where no one is looking, you don’t always try as hard?

Years ago, my oldest son, Brock, taught me a lesson in the importance of unseen efforts. One year in high school, he was recruited to run on the cross country team just before the team was to run in their first race. Not having trained during the summer with the rest of the team, he knew the first meet would be tough, but the coach said, “Just give it your best effort.” At the meet, a part of the three-mile course ran through a densely wooded area, and after the race Brock told me that while he was in the woods (and no one else was around) he had stopped running and walked for a bit. Obviously, he wouldn’t have stopped running if he had been out in the open, and he didn’t like the way his actions made him feel. “Dad,” he said, “I’m never going to do that again.”

As most of you know, I live a solitary life. With my office at home, and no one else sharing my living quarters, a good bit of my work has to be done “with no one looking.” Frankly, it’s a challenge to keep giving my best effort to my work when there is no one around to supervise me. I MUST SUPERVISE MYSELF, AND THAT IS HARD. In private, we face temptations (like laziness and lethargy) that would not be so tempting if others were watching us.

We need to learn the art of SELF-DISCIPLINE. At the end of the day, our good efforts are fairly empty if the only reason we did them was to avoid the criticism of others. The goal we must strive for is to act on the basis of CONSCIENCE — whether anyone else is watching or not.

But obviously, this also must be said: it is never completely true to say that no one is looking, because ALL THAT WE DO IS KNOWN TO GOD. The writer of Hebrews said it plainly: “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (Heb. 4:13).

So let us give 100% of our effort to everything we do, always. In private as well as public. It is irrelevant whether any other human being is looking. Let us do everything we do “as to the Lord and not to men” (Col. 3:23).

Gary Henry — +

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