As a kid, I always tried to cover up something I did wrong - I think it was more out of "instinct" than anything else. You don't find too many kids who just come right out and say - "Sure, Mom and Dad, I broke the vase!" Most try to hide the broken pieces by stacking them back together with Elmer's glue! Now, don't look at me that way! You had your share of "cover-ups" in your time!
The sins of some people are blatant and march them right into court. The sins of others don't show up until much later. The same with good deeds. Some you see right off, but none are hidden forever. (I Timothy 5:24-25 The Message)
Sometimes our sins are absolutely blatant. Like the time Mom came home from shopping and immediately announced to me that I had been in my Grandmother's licorice! Now, how in the world did she know that??? I was immediately shifting into the "cover-up" mode before I could think about it! Denials be what they were, no amount of denying could cover-up the fact my tongue was a rich color of black and my breath betrayed the distinctive smell of licorice! Some "sins" are just more "out there", aren't they? Try as we might, we just cannot hide behind any "excuse" we could honestly defend!
Then there are those sins which just don't seem to be all that noticeable. We find ways to hide these rather successfully from most of the people we know. Someone who is really close to us may know, but most just have no idea. Scripture points to time after time when the sins were "buried", but eventually became evident. I think about Achan in the Old Testament. He was guilty of hiding some of the "loot" which was supposed to be completely destroyed in their raids upon the inhabitants of Canaan. He hid it under his bedroll. When Israel's army was defeated in their attempt to take Ai, Joshua pulls away to inquire of God as to why the defeat occurred. Clearly, he hears there is "sin" in the camp.
In making a long story short, it is discovered Achan has hidden this loot of silver under his bedroll. Do you know what they call the place Achan was buried? Trouble Valley! How appropriate! In the place he brings so much trouble to the nation of Israel, he is stoned for his sin. In the same place, he is buried, with a huge pile of stones placed on his corpse. A "memorial" of sorts - of the consequences of trying to hide what God has declared "off-limits" for his children!
The entire camp suffered because of one man's sin! Do you remember any other stories which exemplify the "amplification" of one man's sin? Think about it and you will likely come up with the story of Adam and Eve. Scripture tells us it was by the action of "one man" sin entered in (Adam), and by the action of "one Man" sin was dealt with forever (Jesus). Eli was a priest back in the day. A priest with many sons - sons he failed to lead well. As a result, they allowed untold sinful practices to enter into the courts of God's tabernacle. In turn, the sin of one man allowed the course of a nation to drift into the captivity of many years.
The truth is, we don't realize the impact of our sin - it may be neatly packed away, out of view to most, but it has an impact which is far-reaching! Even the sin of "not doing something" has an impact. Eli knew his responsibility as a father - he had been trained to instruct his sons in the way they should go. In "abdicating" his role as their father, he actually "endorsed" their sin. His "not doing" led to them "doing much".
This passage doesn't stop there though. In reading it in its entirety, we discover just as our "sin" might not remain covered-up for long, so our good deeds will surface! I am not a person who likes much in the way of "public recognition". In fact, just let me blend into the woodwork, give me a private pat on the back, and I am quite honored to have served. As difficult as it is to "hide" our wrong-doings, it is equally as hard to "just blend into the woodwork"! People recognize a job well-done - even Jesus notices!
Here are some take-aways today:
1. Bury something long enough and it will surely get exposed - in some place we might name as "Trouble Valley"! Trouble has a way of bringing to the surface what we try to hard to hide, does it not?
2. We never "sin" alone - it impacts those around us, even when they are not "involved". Our "cover-up" does not ensure others will remain free of the "defilement" which the sin brings to the entire camp.
3. Just as sin cannot remain under cover, so your good deeds will get recognized. Here's hoping your "account" is filled with "good deeds" and very few "sins"!