Read 1 Timothy 5:24-25
24 Remember, the sins of some people are obvious, leading them to certain judgment. But there are others whose sins will not be revealed until later. 25 In the same way, the good deeds of some people are obvious. And the good deeds done in secret will someday come to light. (NLT)
In what is an all-too-common occurrence, our news media report that some clergyman or other respected leader in society has been found guilty of child abuse or some other moral failure. One reaction from those who know the person is that of disbelief. Outwardly all seemed respectable enough. After all, no one goes around advertising their secret sins and failings.
In this passage, Paul reminds Timothy that we can’t always rely on outward appearances or status, at least in the short term. It is one thing to look good, it is another thing to be good. Of course, some people are obviously off-track. Paul’s point is that being off-track can be blatant or subtle. And if that person stays off-track they are liable to God’s just judgement. God isn’t fooled by appearances.
But we dare not neglect the other side of the coin. Some people are plainly very good in what they do. Their good deeds are well-known and rightly applauded. Others also do a lot of good but it doesn’t attract attention. The small acts of kindness done without thought of reward, the quiet gestures that make life better for others without those others recognising the source.
In his own good time, God will sort out right and wrong. The wicked won’t always get away with their wickedness; the truly good will have their goodness recognised. One day, appearances will count for nothing and we will only have to deal with reality. Till then, beware of snap judgements which may be shaped by outward appearances and ignore the quiet and subtle evil or the quiet and subtle good.