“let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ…
whether I come and see you or am absent…”
There are a few verses in Scripture that stand beautifully alone, as a command, a reminder, or an exhortation. Like, “Love thy neighbor as thyself,” or “Do unto others,” or “Seek ye first the kingdom of God.” These are the pearls of wisdom and guidance of which samplers are built. And the first part of this verse is right up there with them: an oldie but a goodie. “Let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Amen.
But Paul continues that lofty sentiment with a rather more earthbound reminder: “whether I come and see you or are absent, I may hear… that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind, striving together for the faith of the gospel.” Now he sounds like a father lecturing his children. “Behave yourselves. I don’t want to get any bad reports.”
The fact of the matter is, it’s harder to behave when the authority over you is not there. I remember when I was old enough for my mother to leave me home alone. The first thing I did was head for the chocolate chips! Employees leave early when the boss is out of town; students misbehave when the teacher steps out of the room.
But really, we know we are never alone, right? Even if you know nothing about God, if you believe in Him at all, you don’t think He waits outside the door, right? So why do we so often only feel accountable to the human authority in our lives?
The dictionary definition of “integrity” is “adherence to a code of values,” but I have long remembered a definition I heard years ago: Integrity is shown by how you act when no one’s watching.
There may be no one watching when I run that late-night red light, when I keep the extra change the cashier accidentally gave me, when I silently judge another, or when I neglect to thank God for the manna I find boring. But those actions or thoughts are not worthy of the gospel of Christ. My teacher, my pastor, my husband may not be watching, but my Savior is. And I want to be found worthy.