"Whoever lives with integrity fears the Lord, but the one who is devious in his ways despises him" (Proverbs 14:2).
Is there such a thing as a "sneaky" Christian? Unfortunately, yes, but it's not the sort of behavior our Lord wants us displaying. We who have been bought by the blood of the Lamb are still very capable of being worldly, self-absorbed and even "devious."
Let's put together a scenario. You're up for promotion, but so is Brandi. You're a Christian, but you still want to do everything you can to be sure your name will be the one on the door of that prized corner office. So you work diligently, faithfully, dependably, and you pray for the Lord to give you favor for that position.
But you do something extra. You begin a quiet campaign of destruction against Brandi.
Sticking your head into your boss's office –- the one who'll be making the decision about the promotion -– you innocently say, "Hey, I really need to head on to lunch if that's OK, but I hate to leave us shorthanded. Brandi's a bit late getting back again today." You put an ever-so-slight hint of emphasis on the word "again."
Later that day you see the boss coming your way, so you hurry over to Brandi's desk to ask her about the one project on which she's behind. Timing yourself to the boss's arrival, you question: "Don't mean to pressure you," you smile sweetly, "but how much longer do you think you'll be on the Simmons proposal? I've gone as far as I can with what you've been able to give me." You gaze down at the seated Brandi with a look that clearly says that you're doing the very best you can to be patient with an obvious inferior.
Did you say anything about Brandi that wasn't true? No. Did you start a rumor? Tell a lie? No. Were it not for the intent of your heart, you'd be perfectly innocent, wouldn't you? But you knew that every action you took was for the express purpose of casting a negative light on your competition.
But when we trust God, we don't need to tear someone else down in order to build ourselves up. "Whoever lives with integrity fears the Lord...." We can't have integrity in our relationship with the Lord and still be devious. We can't deviously manipulate people or circumstances if we truly [fear] the Lord -- that is, have a healthy respect for His Person and His power.
In Acts 8, we read the account of the man Simon who, seeing the Holy Spirit come on people as Peter and John laid their hands on them, offered money for the disciples to enable him to have this same power. Peter and John were appalled. And Peter told him:
"[R]epent of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that the intent of your heart may be forgiven you" (Acts 8:22).
If you read the full account in Acts 8:9-24, the Bible leaves no doubt that Simon had truly believed and had even been baptized (verse 13) -– he was a believer. And yet he was told to repent of the intent of his heart.
"... [T]he one who is devious in his ways despises [the Lord]." We can't be "sneaky" Christians. There is no room for pretense or subterfuge. To treat other people in such a manner is to have so little respect, so little obedience to the way in which Christ wants us to live, as to actually despise God.
Be honest here: would you consider yourself to be a bit sneaky? It's a choice, you know. It's an old habit that you haven't gotten around to getting rid of. Hey, if we're flat-out truthful, it's an old sin that you love too much to part with.
Examine the intent of your heart, and if there's anything within it that doesn't honor Jesus, repent so that it "may be forgiven you."
(c) 2007 Baptist Press. Used with permission. All rights reserved.
This article was originally published on the Crosswalk Careers channel in May 2007.
Judy Woodward Bates is a freelance writer, author, speaker and creator of Bargainomics, a Bible-based time and money management philosophy, and the author of the new book, "Blessedly Budgeted Women's Events." Visit her website at www.bargainomics.com.