WHEN NO ONE IS LOOKING Andy Hollifield 2-12-17
I have always heard it said that character is what you are when no one is looking. I have thought a lot about that and it is a saying that I believe to be true. The mental and moral qualities of an individual that are always the same regardless of circumstances or company. That is what makes an individual. Not the things you do to impress others or give an appearance of something that is not genuine. I have often thought back to the early months of my ministry in 1986. I remember having a radio broadcast on a small gospel station in Black Mountain, NC. There was a blind DJ working there named Danny. As I got to know Danny, I could tell by the Spirit bearing witness that he was definitely a Christian. He was what a Christian is supposed to be; Christ-like. He worked a lot of the shifts of my broadcast on Tuesday evenings and then later on Sunday mornings. It was amazing to watch Danny work the mixing board. You could tell that he really enjoyed his work. As good as that was to watch, that wasn’t what impressed me the most about Danny. What really impressed me was the way he treated me. There was a local pastor from a large church in Swannanoa that had a broadcast right after mine at one point, and Danny didn’t treat me a bit different than he did this well-known pastor. That was a real help to me because I had seen over the years being in church that sometimes there were the main folks and then there was the rest of us. It shouldn’t be that way among God’s people and especially not among preachers. I have seen it often in the almost thirty-one years I have spent in the ministry. The bible plainly teaches against such actions and attitudes in 1 Timothy 5:21 “I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.” Call it cliques’ or whatever you want to call it, it isn’t right to treat people that way. Danny was one that abided by that and treated everyone with courtesy and respect. He saw everyone the same way. I don’t mean any disrespect to him, but his physical blindness may have helped him see people for what they really were. Nevertheless, he was always gracious and accommodating. The one thing he always done, usually before I left the station although it was sometimes before my broadcast started, he asked if he could pray for me. The first time it happened I was caught off guard but I said “sure, that will be fine.” Now the way Danny prayed for you really caught me off guard. He would reach to shake hands and then hold my hand and put his other hand either on my head or on my shoulder and begin to pray. At first I kind of thought what have I got into? But then I just came to expect it and appreciate it. Like I mentioned earlier, his spirit bore witness with mine. He asked me one day when we were talking, he said do you know what I like about you? Kind of embarrassed and not really sure what to say I said, “No Danny what is it?” He said “You’re real. You are just who you are and I admire that about you. God will honor that. You just be real.” I thought that was a pretty nice thing to say at the time but I didn’t think a whole lot about it at first. Week after week this happened. It got to the point that when I got ready to leave the station he didn’t even ask anymore. As I would go to shake hands and leave the station he would lay his other hand on me and begin to pray. There was just something about that, that gave me comfort and confidence as a young preacher. Over time, I began to think what a serious statement that really was. “Real” what a big responsibility that seemed like all of a sudden. Those words kept ringing in my ears “You’re real, just stay real and God will use you.” I have never forgotten that and all these years later I find myself constantly trying to just be real. The dictionary defines it as true, being an actual thing, being actually such. It just scares me to death to think about not living up to what I am supposed to be. The opposite of real is fake. I have seen enough fake and phony people to know that is the last thing I want to be. I heard an old saying that went something like this; “Be what you is where you is cause if you ain’t what you is where you is you will mess up what you is trying to be what you ain’t.” It may sound a little silly but it is definitely words of wisdom from an old black preacher in Asheville, NC. I have always strived to just be real to everyone I meet. I believe that is what defines character.
Being fake can cost you and will cost you eventually. In 2 Kings 5 we find the story of Naaman the leper. He was a great soldier. He was captain of the host of Syria for the king. A mighty man in valor and honorable, but he was a leper. It turns out that his wife had a maid that knew of his condition. One day, she said in so many words to Naaman’s wife, I wish he was with the prophet in Samaria cause he would heal him. Word got back to the king of Syria what the maid had said and he sent Naaman with great gifts to the king of Israel to be healed. The king got mad at the king of Syria because he had no power to heal and he rent his clothes. When Elisha heard the king had rent his clothes, he sent word to the king to send Naaman to him. As the story goes, Naaman went and was eventually obedient to the command of the prophet and was healed. That is where we will pick up our story.
After Naaman had dipped seven times in the Jordan as he had been commanded, he was healed of his leprosy. He returned unto Elisha’s house and tried to give him gifts which the prophet refused. After he left however, Gehazi, the prophet’s servant, seeing the opportunity for gain followed him. When he caught up with him, he made up a story and Naaman was all to willing to give him some of the reward he had intended to give Elisha. Upon his arrival back at the house, Elisha questioned Gehazi as to where he had been and Gehazi lied to Elisha. The prophet then declared that his heart had went with him when he left to go after Naaman. He also said that Naaman’s leprosy would be upon Gehazi and his house forever and he went out from Elisha as a leper as white as snow. Your lack of character doesn’t only hurt you, it hurts those around you.
Lack of character will cost you. What you are when no one is looking. Another good example of this is David in his sin with Bathsheba and the subsequent murder of Uriah. 2 Samuel 2:10 declares that the sword would never depart out of David’s house and it didn’t. He had rape and incest, and murder and even suffered his own sons turning against him all because of his lack of character; what he was when no one was looking.
Samson is another example. If he hadn’t of defied the laws of God and took a wife of the enemy, and betrayed the secret of his strength, he may have lived a lot longer. What he was when no one was looking.
You could make the same case for Jonah, Moses, Noah, Achan, and many other folks in the bible. Some of them, their lack of character cost them their lives and in some cases the lives of their loved ones. Others such as David and Moses, repented and rose above their early failures and lived a life of character and were used of God even though they still had to pay the penalty for their sin.
What about you? Are you real? Or are you lacking in character trying to be what you aren’t? Have you failed morally and just given up? Have you failed spiritually and just figure what is the use? David said in one place in his early life before facing Goliath “Is there not a cause?” There is still a cause. It is the generation of young folks coming on behind me and you, our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Nieces and nephews, what are they going to follow after if there are no people of good character to look to? They need to see someone who is “real”. God can take broken and marred vessels and make them over and beautiful again. What are you when no one is looking? Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!