I remember how I always found it easier to obey mom when she was watching me than it was when she was away for hours and I was "without supervision". The TV would go on before homework was done; chores would be deferred in hopes of playing a little with my favorite toys or reading a good book. In essence, I was being a little two-faced - behaving one way when I was under scrutiny and quite another when I was thinking no one would know. The long and short of it was the outcome - the chores were done halfway and the homework just didn't measure up to the level it could have because I rushed through both! What I think would have been more "honoring" to my mother was if I had of worked even harder to obey the rules of doing homework and chores first! I was being a kid - totally consumed with whatever distracted my attention the quickest! This is kind of how we fall into temptation in our lives - we get distracted by what grabs our attention the quickest. I wonder just how many stumbles we might just avoid if we didn't get so caught up in the distractions of life and followed a little closer to the idea of obeying even when not being watched?
My dear friends, you always obeyed when I was with you. Now that I am away, you should obey even more. So work with fear and trembling to discover what it really means to be saved. God is working in you to make you willing and able to obey him. Do everything without grumbling or arguing. Then you will be the pure and innocent children of God. You live among people who are crooked and evil, but you must not do anything that they can say is wrong. Try to shine as lights among the people of this world, as you hold firmly to the message that gives life. (Philippians 2:12-16 CEV)
Paul wants the followers of Christ to work to discover what it really means to be saved - to be redeemed from a former way of living and to really begin to live by the new life we have been given. The truth is evident - we wage war with all manner of distracting desires while God is at work helping us to get to the place of being willing and able to obey him. This is kind of good news if we really think about it because we aren't having to get to this place of continual obedience on our own. Eventually, as I grew up a little, I did my chores before I went out to play. It may have taken a while to learn the lesson, but today when I get up, I make my bed. Not because I "have to" because no one really cares if I do or not. I do it because I was "trained" to do so. Mom expected this and in the course of time it became a priority for me. I do it out of habit now - not so much to be obedient to mom, but because it is a pretty good thing to do! Mom worked to get me to the place of being consistent in accomplishing this task - gently reminding me, even nudging me a little when I slacked off. In time, I developed the habit of obedience. God isn't much different - he gently reminds us at first, nudges us when we need a little "push" in the right direction, and in time, we form the "habit of obedience".
How many times do we grumble or complain when we are asked to do something a little more difficult than we hoped for, or on a different time-scale from what we imagined for ourselves? I find this is kind of frequent on occasion in my life - depending on how harried my life gets. When demands are made of me which I just cannot seem to appreciate the urgency of, I kind of balk at them. I even find myself complaining because the weight of these demand kind of "chafe" me a bit. Obedience is made up of a couple of things - first it is the attitude which must be changed, then the behavior follows. When attitude is reversed from seeing things as difficult and unattainable, it is amazing how much we can find the effort to take the necessary steps a little less burdensome!
I don't know about you, but I can speak for myself - I see a lot of grumbling and complaining in my daily experiences. People don't like how things are working out. Change comes and people resist it with deep conviction. Effort has to be put into doing things we don't wan to do in the first place and this gets us flustered on a number of different levels. Flustered people often complain about what it is they are going through - it is just a fact of life. I have come to accept the complaining as a sign they just aren't "there" yet. They haven't made the attitude adjustment which will help them commit to the behaviors which will help them move on with the new "habit" they need to form. I've been there and I know you have, too.
What we do in those moments makes all the difference. We can continue to wallow in our misery, interpreting life as unfair and just too challenging; or we can sit up and take notice of where it is we need a little "refocus" in life. The challenges have become distractions which take us away from allowing God to make the attitude adjustments in us which will help us move on or into what God desires for us. The quicker we allow God access to our attitudes, the quicker we adjust our focus. The sooner our focus is adjusted, the easier it will be to take the first steps toward obedience in our lives. When obedience becomes a habit, it doesn't matter if we are being watched or not - we will act the same because the attitude is not affected by who is "watching" us! Just sayin!