Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." That something that "lies within us" is called integrity. Definition? Doing the right thing, even though no one is watching.
But what if someone is?
My girlfriend Juliette and her friend were dining out when her friend accidentally knocked over her glass, broke it and cut her finger while grabbing for it. Within seconds a third woman approached their booth and said she had seen the entire incident, and it was "definitely a lawsuit."
Juliette's friend said it was no big deal, and that it was her own fault, but the intruder insisted, laying her business card on the table. As luck had it, she was an attorney and would be willing to represent Juliette's friend in a lawsuit. The waitress, approaching their table to clean up the mess, overheard the lawyer and encouraged her to sue --there was definitely money to be had.
Little did she know that Juliette was the wife of that restaurant's CEO. Needless to say, the next day that employee was looking for work. In this situation, it was an actual person watching. But what if that "person watching" happened to be God? King Saul learned that lesson the hard way.
Samuel was a prophet sent by God to anoint Saul king of Israel. One day Samuel told Saul that the Lord wanted Saul to completely destroy the entire Amalekite nation -- men, women, children, babies, cattle, sheep, camels and donkeys. Scripture says that Saul took 210,000 men and did as he was told -- well, almost. He slaughtered the Amalekites all right, but receiving Saul's reprieve was Agag, their king, and the best of the sheep, cattle, fat calves and lambs -- BIG MISTAKE. Saul forgot Who was watching, and that angry Who alerted the prophet of Saul's deception. 1 Samuel 15:12 tells us the rest of the story. Samuel went searching for Saul, and when he finally found him, Saul greeted him cheerfully, announcing proudly that he had followed the Lord's command. The prophet, of course, knew differently.
"Then what is all the bleating of sheep and lowing of cattle I hear?" Samuel demanded. (Can't you just see the look on Saul's face and hear the stutters? Panic time!)
"It's true that the army spared the best of the sheep and cattle," Saul admitted. "But they are going to sacrifice them to the Lord your God. We have destroyed everything else."
Nice try, Saul. If in doubt, play the blame game. Once again, Samuel knew differently. When he questioned why Saul had not followed orders, the king answered, "But I did obey the Lord. I carried out the mission he gave me. I brought back King Agag, but I destroyed everyone else. Then my troops brought in the best of the sheep and cattle and plunder to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal."
Samuel had enough and told Saul he would no longer be King. Had Saul learned his lesson? You decide.
"Yes, I have sinned. I have disobeyed your instructions and the Lord's command, for I was afraid of the people and did what they demanded."
Wow! Saul still doesn't get it. Unfortunately, by the time he got a clue, he had lost his crown. Maybe, just maybe, had he even a little integrity, the story would have ended differently. Just like it would have for the waitress. Too bad they both had to find out the hard way that what lies within us has its way of being noticed, some by CEO's wives but all by God Himself.