J.C. Ryle - The Eye of God, Thoughts for Young Men
- Special Rules for Young People -
(3) For another thing, resolve never to forget the eye of God. The eye of God! Think of that. Everywhere, in every house, in every field, in every room, in every company, alone or in a crowd, the eye of God is always upon you. "The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good." (Prov. 15:3), and they are eyes that read hearts as well as actions (Heb. 4:12, 13).
Endeavor, I beseech you, to realize this fact. Remember that you have to deal with an all-seeing God, - a God who never slumbers nor sleeps (Ps. 121:4), - a God who understands your thoughts afar off (Ps. 139:2), and with whom the night shines as the day. You may leave your father's house, and go away, like the prodigal, into a far country, and think that there is nobody to watch your conduct; but the eye and ear of God are there before you. You may deceive your parents or employers, you may tell them falsehoods, and be one thing before their faces, and another behind their backs, but you cannot deveice God. He knows you through and through. He heard what you said as you spoke to people today. He knows what you are thinking of at this minute. He has set your most secret sins in the light of His countenance, and they will one day come out before the world to your shame, unless you take heed.
How little is this really felt! How many things are done continually, which men would never do if they thought they were seen! How many matters are transacted in the chambers of imagination, which would never bear the light of day! Yes; men entertain thoughts in private, and say words in private, and do acts in private, which they would be ashamed and blush to have exposed before the world. The sound of a footstep coming has stopped many a deed of wickedness. A knock at the door has caused many an evil work to be hastily suspended, and hurriedly laid aside. But oh, what miserable driveling folly is all this! There is an all-seeing Witness with us wherever we go. Lock the door, draw down the blinds, close the shutters, put out the light; it does not matter, it makes no difference; God is everywhere, you cannot shut Him out, or prevent His seeing. "All things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account" (Heb. 4:13). Well did young Joseph understand this when his master's wife tempted him. There was no one in the house to see them, no human eye to witness against him; but Joseph was one who lived as seeing Him that is invisible: "How can I do this great wickedness," he said, "and sin against God?" (Gen. 39:9)
I ask you to read Psalm 139. I advise you to learn it by heart. Make it the test of all your dealings in this world's business: say to yourself often, "Do I remember that God sees me?"
Live as in the sight of God. This is what Abraham did, - he walked with Him. This is what Enoch did, - he walked with Him. This is what heaven itself will be, - the eternal presence of God. Do nothing you would not like God to see. Say nothing you would not like God to hear. Write nothing you would not like God to read. Go no place where you would not like God to find you. Read no book of which you would not like God to say, "Show it to Me." Never spend your time in such a way that you would not like to have God say, "What are you doing?"