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The cameras are rolling

“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone” (Romans 12:17).

Sometimes people in the public eye get themselves into hot water by saying or doing something inappropriate that makes them look bad. They don’t realize the cameras are rolling. They think they’re in the middle of a private moment, but a cameraman has captured every move.

Or perhaps they thought their quiet whispers to a political ally were imperceptible to the public, only to discover that the highly sensitive microphone on stage had picked up every venomous word.

They’re surprised when their distasteful words and actions end up on the nightly news. They’ve been outed, and their critics have a field day with it. The cameras were rolling, and they didn’t realize it.

Caught in the act

With the advent and proliferation of cell phone video cameras, what was once a rather rare occurrence has become a part of daily life. It seems as if everything is caught on video these days, both good and bad. Worse yet, bad behavior is immediately uploaded to some social media network and disseminated in seconds. Everyday people thought they were getting away with something, only to find out that the cameras were rolling.

How often do we make the same mistake? Granted, our actions or comments might not be recorded and end up on national news, but sometimes we’re still caught saying or doing things we shouldn’t. It’s especially tempting to tear down another person’s reputation privately when someone has done or said something to hurt us. It’s natural for sinners like you and me to repay evil with evil, especially if we think it will go unnoticed. We love to stab others in the back rather than give them an opportunity to explain themselves and perhaps clear up a misunderstanding. And when actual wrongs are committed against us and others, we naturally seek those who agree with us and look to retaliate instead of lovingly and patiently calling people to repentance, with an eager eye toward graciously announcing forgiveness, as Jesus commanded (Matthew 18:15-17).

While we might think we can get away with indiscriminate words and actions in private, we need to remember: The cameras are rolling. While the target of our comments or actions may never know what we’ve done to “get them back,” our Savior knows. We might think we’re alone, but Jesus is there, behind the scenes. He knows our every thought. He hears our every word. He witnesses our every deed.

Forgiven for our misdeeds

Simply put, it’s not the way Jesus wants us to treat one another. Instead, through the pen of the apostle Paul, our Savior encourages us: “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.”

We have no better model for this way of life than Jesus himself. St. Peter tells us that when Jesus’ enemies “hurled their insults at [our Savior], he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats” (1 Peter 2:23). Even when his enemies weren’t listening, Jesus spoke words of patient forgiveness: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

Jesus forgives us too for every time we’ve failed to follow his lead. In love he willingly suffered and died for every deadly word we’ve spoken and every lethal action we’ve undertaken. Such unconditional love on his part inspires us to love one another the same way, even when the cameras aren’t rolling.

Author: Peter Prange
Volume 109, Number 09
Issue: September 2022

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This entry is part 20 of 60 in the series devotion

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