Someone’s Watching?

Posted on May 9, 2007
Filed Under Timely Issues | Leave a Comment

Driving down the highway, you’re moving faster than the flow of traffic, when suddenly you notice a police car off to the side of the road.  police-car-2.jpgImmediately you put your foot on the brake pedal and your mind goes through a checklist: Am I speeding? Did I use my turn signal? Have I done anything illegal in the last quarter of a mile or so? Is there anyone nearby who is going faster than I am?  It doesn’t matter if you had the cruise control set five miles below the speed limit, your natural tendency is to hit the brakes and evaluate your driving because someone’s watching.

Have you ever participated in a sporting event, acted in a play, or sang in a concert and found yourself looking for that special person among the crowd?  When you noticed that parent or girlfriend or boyfriend did you become more focused, dig even deeper, and perform at a higher level?  

Are you less tempted to cheat on an exam when the professor is in the room?  At your job is it more motivating to work hard when the boss is around?  Each of us, for better and for worse, behaves differently when we know someone is watching.  This tendency is universal and planted deeply in the human soul.  Think back on your own childhood, didn’t you act differently when your parents were present?  My point exactly. 

When someone pads an expense report or cheats on their tax return, what is the motivation for doing something that is clearly wrong?  Why do athletes use steroids that are prohibited in their sport?  People do these things because they think no one will notice.  If you knew you could get away with cheating on your taxes, or even cheating on your husband or wife, would you do it? Would you live differently knowing that no one was watching you?
So many questions about God have to do with whether He is aware of what is happening—is He watching over us, and can He do anything about what He sees. Does God see me and does He care about how I live my life? Is God like a police officer watching and waiting to catch me break the rules or is God like that special person whose presence enhances my performance?  This contrast in perspective cuts to the heart of our motives for living a good life.  Some people choose to spend their lives trying to avoid being caught misbehaving.  Others, aware that God is both loving and just, find a higher motivation for being good coupled with the awareness that each of us are ultimately accountable for the manner in which we live.

Are there are any moral values that apply to everyone?  That is an interesting question in theory, but when you are going 20 mph over the speed limit and you see a police officer, then the theory collides with real life.  The next time you find yourself being tempted to compromise, ask yourself “Is someone watching me?” 


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