How Do You Behave When The Cameras Aren't On?2
Jason Bourcier, a 33-year-old financial consultant in Arlington, VA, will be paying $157 a month until July 19, 2067 (about the time he turns 87) for toll violations that began in 2009. The original tab was $202,000 but his attorney negotiated that down to $40,000. Add to that another $55,000 in interest payments and other fees and his total comes to $96,498 (all this as a result of only $440 in unpaid tolls). The reason his fine became so large is that penalties were applied that amounted to $500 for the fourth and any subsequent offenses within three years of the second offense.
But that is not why I took note of this story (which, by the way, appeared in the November 25, 2013, edition of USA Today, p. 6a). When asked how this could possibly have happened, Bourcier replied: “I would go through late at night, and there weren’t any attendants. One day, I asked an attendant if the cameras were on when there were no attendants on duty. He said they weren’t. So I started going through without paying the tolls.”
So, the question for all of us is simple: Do we obey the law only when there is a threat we might get caught? Is the only, or perhaps the most important, reason why we observe rules and regulations that we otherwise might have to pay a fine? Do we justify our violation of the law (whether on the road, in the office, at school, in personal relationships, or at home) by saying, “There’s no one here to catch me. So it’s ok if I don’t abide by what is right. After all, it’s only wrong if you get caught!”
As Christians we are to obey the law, in whatever form it is expressed, because that it is the right thing to do. More importantly, it is the biblical thing to do. Regardless of who else may be watching, God always is. Principle must govern our lives, not pragmatism.
So let’s ask ourselves some tough questions: Do we make a full stop at the intersection only when we suspect a police car may be close? Do we work hard only when our employer is in the room? Do we report all income on our tax return, or only that which has a paper trail that could lead the IRS to our front door?
In other words, how do you behave when the cameras aren’t on?