Here’s a simple way to evaluate something you are contemplating saying or doing:

Would you want that behavior or choice in bold print on the front page of the paper?

Not pictures or details, mind you! Just simple facts. If you don’t want what you are saying or doing proclaimed, you should think about whether or not you should be doing it. Jesus indicated that in the end, this full disclosure will take place: “For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light.” Luke 8:17 (ESV)
For instance, consider this headline: “Pastor John & Kelly Sleeping Together.” Who cares, right? “Duh,” is the likely response. “They are married and they have children.”

Private stuff is, of course, private stuff. That’s why I say “no pictures or details.” But I think this question can be helpful in at least two ways:

First, when we choose things or do things that we know are wrong (or things that don’t align with our values), we are usually aware of it. Nobody wants their bad or compromising behavior on the front page. So this question can set off a little alarm in our heads, telling us that we are considering or doing something we think is wrong or something that doesn’t align with our values. We are not living the way we want to live.

Second, people often have an image they like to project that is not exactly who they really are. This gap between who we want to be seen as and who we actually are causes tension in our lives. The more we can close that gap, the more we will feel like we are living authentically.

This may not be the last word or the best word on evaluating your behavior. It might also be dangerous if it causes you false guilt or hypersensitivity to how you are spending every moment of your life. This question could leave you curled up and whimpering in a corner if you are unable to be gracious to yourself, because we’ve all done and will do things that we certainly don’t want proclaimed and are not proud of. And, of course, it is quite useless if you are proud of your bad behavior.

But I do think it can be helpful for those of us who desire to live authentically good lives.

That’s what I’m thinking today as I continue on this journey of life…