I recently went for my annual eye examination at the Salem VA Medical Center. It was an extensive examination, first by an optometry intern and then an attending ophthalmologist. They had all kinds of diagnostic apparatus to allow them to not just look at the exterior of my eyes, but also to look deep into those magnificent orbs created by God. I mentioned to the young intern that it must be amazing to observe the extremely complicated design of this gelatinous part of the human body. She told me that she is always amazed at what she sees. I encouraged her to never take for granted that God has designed these intricate and essential parts. How often do I take for granted that when I wake up in the morning I can look at my clock and see what time it is, I can read my Bible, I can see my lovely wife, my daughter, and son-in-love, my five grandchildren, the sunshine and so on, all day long. There are so many things I can focus on during the day that are good and produce thankfulness to my God.
But along with those positive and good things, there are negative and bad things that come before these marvelous eyes. I’m reminded of the children’s song, “Be Careful Little Eyes What You See!” I have control of what I allow my eyes to focus on all day long. What I choose to look at, gaze at, lust upon, will result in consequences. Jesus had some words to say about the use of our eyes when He delivered His sermon on the mount in Matthew 6:22-23, “Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!” The context of these verses concerns how we deal with material possessions. The two verses (vs. 19-21) prior to these two verses, warn us to check our hearts. Where our heart is, will determine where we store up our treasures. What do we do with our earthly possessions? Do I make it my goal to be materially rewarded at the expense of being spiritually impoverished? Is my heart in making money or is it in bringing glory to God? Then in verse 24, following the verses about the eye, are verses where Jesus pointedly says that we have to make a choice. We cannot serve God and serve money at the same time. It is an impossibility. There can only be one master, otherwise, it is not a master. Either our master is Jesus or it is money. No joint ownership.
Now, Jesus is not saying that money is evil. All blessings come from the Father, even material wealth (James 1:17). It is “the love of money that is a root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). In verses 19,-24, Jesus is telling us that we need to be careful about what we see. What we allow our eyes to see will affect our actions. The advertising world knows that principle very well. Why do corporations spend millions of dollars on Super Bowl commercials? It is because they know that the way to your heart (and pocketbook) is through your eyes. If they can make their product attractive to your eyes, your heart will desire their product. The Apostle John wrote these words in his first epistle when he was in his later years, “For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world” (1 John 2:16 NLT) When we focus our eyes on those attractive material treasures, we are deceived into believing that they will bring lasting joy. While it may be sweet initially, the end result is bitterness.
The human eye provides light to the brain so that it can instruct the body to walk in the light. If something hinders our eyes from seeing what is in front of us, we will stumble and fall. It is like walking into a dark room where you think you know that there is sufficient light to navigate your way. That light you think you have is really darkness which will hide the obstacles in front of you. “Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4, NLT). Instead of focusing on those attractive material things which can lead us into darkness, we need to focus our eyes on Jesus, Who is the Light (John 8:12).
Ask yourself these questions.
1) When I focus on getting more material things, am I ever completely satisfied?
2) When I fix my eyes on Jesus and His kingdom, am I content? “Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.” (Philippians 4:11 NLT)
3) “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” (Matthew 6:33, NLT)
4) Where do I focus my eyes? Jesus or something else?
Bill Olsen, Elder