Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Second Word: Weighed

The cautionary tale of King Belshazzar continues as Daniel reveals the second word God personally wrote on the wall.

"Tekel: You have been weighed in the balance and found wanting."

With this word, God is puncturing the illusion that a person can get away with doing wrong. For some reason, most of us believe that getting caught is for other people. Over and over again, you can ask people who have tripped up by scandal, and they'll tell you: "I never thought I'd get caught."

Ask Pete Rose. Ask Barry Bonds (after he comes out of denial). Ask Jim Bakker. Jimmy Swaggart. Bill Clinton. Martha Stewart.

We tend to think that we're too clever to get caught. We know what we're doing. We're not like those other people. We'll get away with it.

Several years ago, when we lived in Texas, Anabel was old enough for us to take the railing off her baby bed. She thought this gave her permission to get up and roam around the house after bedtime. She'd sneak up on me while I was working on my laptop in the living room or watching baseball late at night, and I'd usher her back to her room.

After a while, she figured that maybe if she couldn't see me, I wouldn't be able to see her. So, she dumped the books out of a basket we had in her room and put the basket on her head like a helmet. She would stumble out of her room, groping around with her hands and be shocked when we would discover her! It was hysterical, and my wife and I would collapse on the floor laughing at her. We even have a picture of her with the basket on her head standing in the middle of our kitchen (looking for cookies probably!).

It's a good thing we grow out of that kind of thing, right?

Or maybe we don't.

I still know people who think that if they can't see others, others can't see them. We do that at church, don't we? If you didn't see me looking at pornography, maybe I didn't really look at pornography. If I can't see you getting high, maybe you never did get high. If no one sees you fix that expense report, maybe you really did spend that money legitimately.

The bottom line is: It doesn't matter if anyone you know sees you or finds out. There is a God who sees everything. Belshazzar was just as out of touch with reality as Anabel was -- closing your eyes doesn't make you invisible. It makes you naive.

God comes to the king and says, "You've been weighed. And if you think there's anything I don't see, if you think you're more clever than I am, if you think you're going to get away with defying me -- you've got another thought coming."

God sees everything. He hears every word and knows every thought. He weighs us each on the scales of his judgment, and we all come up short. You can close your eyes all you want, but there is no end-run around responsibility.