…as He who has called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16, N.K.J.V.).
A country doctor had a sign in his office that read, “First visit $25. All other visits, $10.” A cheapskate who was new in town walked in for a physical but didn’t want to pay the first-visit price. In his attempt to save the extra $15, he greeted the doctor by saying, “It’s good to see you again, doc.” The doctor knew instantly that he’d never met the man but played along and proceeded with the exam. When he finished he said, “Well, the bad news is that your condition is quite serious.” Now worried, the cheapskate nervously asked, “What should I do, doc?” Without showing an ounce of emotion, the doctor replied in a monotone voice, “Just keep doing what I told you to do the last time.”
Life can get hard, and when it does we are tempted to cheat a little to get by. For the Christian, however, this should never be an option. We serve a holy heavenly Father, we have been saved by a holy Savior, and we have the holy Spirit living inside each of us. If all that isn’t enough, our text passage calls us to be holy in all our conduct.
Like many people nowadays, my family has a small satellite that is mounted to a corner of the roof of our house. That satellite captures a programming signal from deep space and sends it inside our home to a couple of receiver boxes that are hooked into our four televisions. That process enables us to enjoy satellite television programming on each of those tvs. But I am old enough to remember those massive NASA-sized satellites that many people in rural areas used to have sitting in their yards. Those behemoth satellites were the precursors to the smaller units that we know today.
When those first home satellites hit the market, you could purchase one and then sit back and watch any and every television channel that was known to man. I mean, if it was broadcast via a satellite, you could find it somewhere on your dial. That included premium movie channels such as HBO, Cinemax, and Showtime. A few years later, though, those channels and many others started scrambling their signals. That meant that you now had to pay a monthly fee to subscribe to those channels in order to watch them.
Not long afterward, specially designed electronic chips started popping up on the black market. A satellite owner could pay a one-time price for a chip (the price was usually $100 or less), plug that chip into the satellite’s receiver box inside the home, and PRESTO all those scrambled channels magically became unscrambled. Paying that one-time small fee sure beat paying those high monthly prices to get to watch those channels.
There was only one problem with those chips: they were illegal! But that little issue didn’t seem to bother all the folks who were trying to “beat the man.” And, yes, a whole lot of those folks were professing Christians who got up every Sunday morning and went to church. I have to say that even back then I thought that behavior was pretty hypocritical. (This to say nothing, of course, of the whole other matter of Christians watching movies featuring profanity and nudity on HBO, or Hell’s Box Office, as some Baptist preachers started calling that channel.)
Eventually, the temptation to employ an under-the-counter electronic chip to get programming you weren’t paying for was defused. That happened when the people scrambling the channels got smart and started scrambling them afresh and anew each week. The chip-designers, whoever they were, couldn’t keep up with that, and even if they could have, people weren’t about to pay for a new chip each week. It would have been cheaper just to pay for the channels legally. That relegated the black-market-satellite-chip era to a relatively brief season in mankind’s sordid history.
For some reason, I had those old satellite chips on my mind today. I have to smile a little when I think back on those days even though I doubt that God found it amusing that many of His people were breaking the eighth commandment. By way of a reminder, that one reads: “Thou shalt not steal” (Exodus 20:15).
Like I said, life can be hard, and there are times when we are all tempted to sin just a little to make it easier. Whether it be cheating on income taxes, telling a half-truth, loading a baseball bat to give it more pop, or using an illegal chip to watch movie channels, we all have our individualized ways of lowering the bar of personal holiness. But what we must keep in mind is that God is watching us (pun fully intended), and He’s looking for holy conduct. That holds true for everyone, but it holds exceedingly true for anyone who claims to know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
So, Christian, are you being tempted right now to lower your bar of holiness in order to get along a little easier? Oh, be careful of that. Remember, it’s far better to have a television screen with a scrambled signal than a life with one. Don’t mar your holy conduct and lose eternal reward just to gain a slight edge in a world that isn’t your real home anyway. If the Lord wants you to have a certain channel, He will make a way for you to get it without you resorting to sin. Just trust in Him, and let Him do all your programming.