So when you give to the poor, don't let anyone know what you are doing. Your giving should be done in secret. You Father can see what is done in secret, and He will reward you.
-- Matthew 6:3-5
Las Vegas has been known for decades as an anything goes type of town. And its reputation is well deserved. No matter the time of day or night, high stakes gambling, quickie weddings (and divorces) and risqué entertainment are just a casino away. But a few years ago, city officials decided to broaden Sin City's appeal. Rather than pandering to the lowest common denominator, Las Vegas began promoting itself as a family-friendly vacation destination--sort of like Disneyland, but with lots more glitz and glam.
If you don't remember that brief change of heart, you're not alone. It wasn't long before the message was scrapped in favor of the famous What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas campaign. And when an advertising slogan enters the lexicon, you know you've hit the marketing jackpot!
Essentially, a visit to Las Vegas promises (or at least suggests) days and nights of no-guilt fun and excitement. Nothing that happens there has to leave the city limits. And if you don't tell, they certainly won't. At least that's what they say. But that's not how real life works. As Christ-followers, we understand that our Creator already knows about all of our thoughts and actions--regardless of whether we're alone or at a crowded blackjack table. There's nowhere to hide. And one day, we'll all have to give an account of our life's words and deeds. That should be quite an explanation for most of us!
Christ-followers are to be bright lights to a blind and desperate world. But with so many eyes upon us, doing the right thing and standing up for our convictions can be tough--and even painful at times. Those who refuse to cut corners, shade the truth or puff up their resumes can lose out on careers, friendships and much more. And no good deed seems to go unpunished.
That's just a little that can happen when people are watching. But what about doing the right thing when no one will ever know? Maybe it's that car door you scratched in the crowded mall parking lot. Or the $20 bill that fell from your co-worker's pocket. And think back a few years to when you were playing baseball in your backyard. Who really broke your neighbor's window?
It's daily circumstances like these that challenge our faith, values and convictions. But as Christ-followers, we're directed to be true witnesses to the freedom God has given us through the costly sacrifice of His Son, Jesus. When we accepted His forgiveness for all the ways we've hurt others and ourselves throughout our lifetimes, we gained the freedom to make a positive difference in this world and turn our backs on the past.
Maybe Las Vegas is the town that never sleeps. But if you stick with Jesus' practical admonitions for living through faith, you'll see that a good night's sleep with a clear conscience pays off better than any winning hand at the poker table.