One of the fun characters in the Pixar animated film, “Monsters, Inc.,” is Roz, the slug-like, gravelly voiced administrator who warns her fellow monsters, “I’m watching you. All-ways watching.” In the TV series “Person of Interest,” which ran for five seasons, each episode opened with the haunting words, “You are being watched.” Numerous other TV shows feature characters undergoing close scrutiny.
Increasingly, it’s the same in everyday life. Security cameras are stationed everywhere, from gas station pumps to quick-stop shop aisles to department stores. Surveillance equipment has become standard in airports, railway stations, office buildings, hotels, city streets, sports arenas and stadiums, sometimes even churces. Like the petulant Roz, it seems someone’s watching us at all times.
Allen Funt’s TV show of years past, “Candid Camera,” has arrived at a town near you. “Big Brother” of George Orwell’s dystopian novel, 1984, who monitored everyone’s every move, has apparently become reality!
However, long before the invention of the camera and its peering eye, humankind was being watched. From the very beginning, God has kept a close eye on His creation. Sometimes we wish He wouldn’t.
We see an example as early as the third chapter of the book of Genesis, after Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate fruit from the one tree they were forbidden to touch. When they heard God “walking in the garden in the cool of the day” (Genesis 3:8), they hid from Him, fully aware they had messed up. Then in the fourth chapter, after Cain had murdered his brother Abel in a fit of jealous anger, God – already knowing the answer – asked the perpetrator, “Where is your brother Abel?” to which Cain replied, “I don’t know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9).
Quickly the first people discovered they wouldn’t be able to slip their wrongdoing past God’s watchful eyes. But the fact He’s always watching isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We see this after Sarai (later renamed Sarah), frustrated at being unable to have a child, persuaded her husband Abram (later renamed Abraham) to sleep with her maidservant Hagar to produce offspring via another means.
After Hagar became pregnant, however, serious conflict developed between her and Sarai, ultimately resulting in her flight from Abram’s household. The ever-watchful God was fully aware of this situation. He addressed Hagar, instructing her to return to her mistress and giving her the promise, “I will so increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count” (Genesis 16:1-13).
In response, she called God “El Roi,” which in Hebrew means “the God who sees me,” and obediently returned, giving birth to a son named Ishmael. Even though the Lord had promised Abraham he would become “the father of many nations” through another son, Isaac, He graciously looked out for Hagar and her son.
Repeatedly the Scriptures speak of God watching over us, not to catch us doing something wrong, but rather, eager to find us doing right. “God looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God” (Psalm 53:2).
Psalm 34:15 assures us, “The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry.” Similarly, Proverbs 15:3 declares, “The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.” And 2 Chronicles 16:9 states, “For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”
Jesus also spoke of the benefits of serving and worshiping an ever-watchful God, even as we pray: “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”
God isn’t peering down from the heavenly realm, celestial sledgehammer poised to slam anyone who strays. Rather, He acts like a loving, watchful parent, as the apostle Paul described: “For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory” (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12).
Much of the watching that’s taking place around us is intended to observe and apprehend evildoers. Unlike security and surveillance devices, or ominous “Roz,” God is also watching – but for our good.
Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly re-published, “Business At Its Best,” “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. He also writes two blogs, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, and www.bobtamasy.wordpress.com. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.