The Lord is watching everywhere, keeping his eye on both the evil and the good. Proverbs 15:3 NLT
When I was a little boy, way back in the nineteen hundreds, I remember singing the song in cradle roll,
“Oh be careful little eyes what you see,
Oh be careful little eyes what you see.
For the Father up above
Is looking down in love.
Oh be careful little eyes what you see.”
You may remember that the song went on about ears being careful what they hear, and hands being careful what they do, since we all know God is watching us.
Even for adults, it is a sobering reality that God is watching us.
Just a couple weeks ago, I read about how a family going through the drive-thru at a fast food restaurant was accidentally given a sack with that day’s deposit money instead of their food! When they opened their bag they realized that instead of it being filled with French fries and burgers, it was filled with over two thousand dollars in cash! The family returned the money, saying that they were Jehovah’s Witnesses and they knew God was watching them. They remind me of my Jehovah’s Witness friend in Texas, a very honest caring person. I applaud our Jehovah’s Witness friends for their integrity.
Even though they say they returned the money because they knew God was watching, I imagine that, being people of integrity, they would have returned the money even if He wasn’t. I mean, do we only do good because God is watching? If so, isn’t that very legalistic and works-orientated – to only do good so long as there is a God Who is watching and waiting to reward our good behavior and punish our bad behavior?
Jesus is telling a story in Matthew 25:34-40 NLT.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!”
I am compelled to believe that not only did these people not have a clue they were helping Jesus, but I also see from their response that they were helping the needy with no thought of reward. They seem to be surprised that Jesus even knew about any of this – not because they don’t know God sees everything, but because while they were helping others, they had mercy on their mind and not a video recorder preserving their good deeds to be replayed and rewarded.
Jesus gives us this illustration to let us know that those who are truly His will work for Him out of love and gratitude for His great sacrifice, and not for a reward from God watching our every move.
When a servant comes in from plowing or taking care of sheep, does his master say, ‘Come in and eat with me’? No, he says, ‘Prepare my meal, put on your apron, and serve me while I eat. Then you can eat later.’ And does the master thank the servant for doing what he was told to do? Of course not. In the same way, when you obey me you should say, ‘We are unworthy servants who have simply done our duty.” Luke 17:7-10 NLT
I believe those Jesus commends in Matthew 25 felt they were just doing what came naturally out of a heart of love and never considered themselves candidates for any type of reward in this life, or the hereafter.