Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Eyes Have It

Which one of you fathers would give your hungry child a snake if the child asked for a fish?

-- Luke 11:11

Great Britain has installed video cameras in its cities and villages to help prevent and solve petty and major crimes. Authorities credit the 24-hour surveillance for stemming instances of theft, assaults and vandalism, while civil libertarians condemn the ubiquitous cameras as Big Brother run amok.

This literal eye in the sky is also in America. And love it or hate it, real-time streaming video and closed circuit television are here to stay - particularly considering the very-real threats to people and property from domestic and foreign terrorism. The bottom line these days is that when you're in a public place, something or someone is probably watching or recording you and your actions. Buy a head of lettuce in a suburban grocery store or a pair of pants in a downtown department store; odds are that you're on camera. And better watch what you say and who you look at if you're on an elevator.

The old saying goes that it's not paranoia if people really are out to get you. But when it comes to video surveillance, it's all a bit unsettling - even if it's for your own good. However, here's something else to consider. Don't bother looking over your shoulder for the police, FBI or other law enforcement personnel. They're too busy trying to keep up with all the action playing on hundreds of video monitors. If you want to know who's REALLY watching you - and taking very detailed notes - look no further than your own home.

They're your kids.

That's an eye-opener in itself. But perhaps what's even more sobering is the fact that God has given fathers (and moms, too!) the awesome responsibility of preparing children to make a positive difference in the world and readying them for eternity. It's a tough enough assignment that lasts at least 18 years. But tougher still is that whether you're aware of it or not, children mark that time by hanging on your every word and imitating your actions. They want to know if your words match your deeds and if all the talk actually hangs with the walk.

"Like father, like son" is far more than a throwaway cliché.

Thankfully, being a Godly role model for children involves just a few basic issues. First, do you control your tongue and avoid bad language, nasty gossip and unwarranted criticism? And second, what's your level of self-control? Does your life witness personal satisfaction and gratitude with what God has provided or are you living a life of excess and competition with yourself and your neighbors? Is what you have enough or are you always looking for the next shiny toy, a bigger salary and the best house on the block? It all boils down to who (or what) is really your God. As Jesus put it so bluntly:

"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money."

Remember that your children are watching your every word and deed. And don't bother trying to fool them; they're masters at evaluating the authenticity of your character and personal integrity. Better than any rich trust fund, blue chip stock or mansion on a hill, both qualities are a priceless inheritance that no father should fail to pass on to his sons and daughters.

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