I was thinking this morning about an incident that happened to me more than thirty-seven years ago. It seems like it occurred last week.
My friends and I went to a nearby restaurant for breakfast. When someone distracted the cashier at the front door, I sneaked by and hurried to the food line. I still don’t know why I did it. I had very recently become a Christian, but easily fell back into old patterns.
As I piled food onto my tray, I dismissed my nagging guilt. When my friends joined me a few minutes later, I bowed my head and silently gave thanks to God for my food. That’s when Tom snickered, “Look at Maffeo. He sneaks in without paying, and then thanks God.”
They laughed with sarcasm. But I wanted to crawl under the table.
I worked at that company for another year, growing in my relationship with Christ as I studied the Bible, attended church regularly and committed myself to prayer. But I could never share my faith with any of those men. They had painted me with a brush dipped in hypocrisy.
St. Paul urged Timothy: “Flee the evil desires . . . and pursue righteousness . . . .” (2 Timothy 2:22).
For good reason, Scripture commands us to live in obedience to God. We can't effectively share Christ’s love with others, rescuing them from the devil’s snare, if we ourselves are tangled in his web.
Or, put another way, "You can't give what you don't have."