I heard about a judge who used bumper stickers to encourage better driving. He gave two options to people guilty of driving while intoxicated.

The first option was to attach this message to their bumper: “This car owned by a convicted drunk driver.” Almost all offenders preferred the judge’s second option: Enroll in an alcohol treatment program. The majority of people cared about what others thought of them and wanted to maintain a good image.

The fear of embarrassment applies to other kinds of unacceptable behavior as well. For example, not many of us would be willing to walk around with a sign on our backs that read something like this: “Danger: I’m a Christian who doesn’t spend time in prayer or Bible study.” Nor would we want to wear a sign that read: “Warning: I’m a child of God who gossips too much,” or “Be careful: I am controlled by lust rather than love.”

If God required us to display such a sign, would our desire for the respect of others keep us from revealing our true spiritual condition? The way we answer that question says a lot about our sense of shame before the Lord, who always judges us accurately (1 Pet. 1:17). Is it possible that we fear His opinion less than we fear the opinion of others?