The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! (Matthew 6:22-23)
These days, the world offers a potentially exhausting variety of entertainment, either at the simple click of a button, or just down the road at one or other venue catering for every possible human inclination. There is so much to choose from, so much diversity – and so much to distract and seduce us from the things of God.
With so much on offer, it’s often not even noticeable that our attention strays slightly ‘off course.’ It may be a favourite TV show, which here and there slips in a little something that, while it’s not blatantly wrong, may nevertheless cause an inadvertent or subconscious compromise. Repetition builds on this, and one little compromise leads to another, and before we know it, we’ve adjusted our course slightly to accommodate it. But even one degree left or right will ultimately alter our course, until one day we’re way off the narrow path, wondering how we got there.
This is what Jesus is talking about, and He sums it up in a single, neat truth. It starts with the eyes. What we see is what we become. He’s not referring to the unavoidable daily witness of the things of the world that are part of life around us. He’s talking about habitual sight, those things that we choose to fix our eyes on. We can see things that aren’t Godly, and at that point we have a choice – to continue to look or to turn away. The problem is not so much the seeing as our response to it.
It comes down to the concept of the seared conscience, which no longer recognises right from wrong. If our eyes are continually fixed on the things of darkness, we become habitualised and our perception changes. We become inured to things we should turn away from, because they become familiar and ultimately a part of us. The result is that we are transformed within, and the darkness takes hold, shutting out the light.
It’s significant that Jesus uses the words ‘the eyes of the light of the body.’ It is through the eyes that light first comes. We read the Word with our eyes. We see evidence of God’s awesome power in His creation. We see His faithful provision, and we see His daily care. This is one of the reasons why He instructed us to lift Him up.
Remember the Israelites in the desert, tormented by serpents after building the golden calf? This is a perfect example of the trouble our eyes can get us into. They turned their eyes from God to the calf, and it was only looking at the brazen serpent which Moses held aloft that they were healed and delivered. They looked to the type of Christ and away from the golden calf.
We’re instructed to guard our hearts, but we should take as much care to guard what goes into our hearts through the eyes. Many temptations begin with sight – we see something and it stirs all kinds of temptation within us, often in subtle ways. Our enemy is set on the seduction of God’s people, and he really doesn’t need us to do his work for him. And seduction it is – a little of this, a little of that, then slowly add a little more, and we’re caught in a downward spiral. Consider, just for a moment, the plethora of ungodly things around us, then look at how they start. The vast majority start with the eyes.
It should be a daily, fervent prayer that the Holy Spirit guide us and alert us to these things, and strengthen us to turn away when we should. Compromise is a destructive thing which usually masquerades as not wanting to rock the boat or seem the prude. Yet God’s Word to us is very clear on what we should and shouldn’t be part of. He tells us to separate ourselves, and this includes our eyes. It’s our choice to listen and obey the warnings of the Word and the Holy Spirit. It’s also in our best interests to make the right choice.
Light is a wonderful thing. It pushes back the darkness. It creates warmth and peace and security. We need to ‘wash the windows’ so to speak – keep our eyes clean so that the true Light of Christ can always shine within, keeping the darkness at bay, and keeping our hearts pure and bright and full of faith. This is what sets us apart from the world – remember, our purpose is to be salt and light. We need to make sure that the light that is reflected back is the true light of Christ, not something smeared and tainted with the ‘soot’ of the world.
Jesus, thank You for shining Your light to lead us out of the darkness. Guide us and teach us through Your Holy Spirit. Alert us to the things that seduce, to the small compromises. And if we should stray, bring us back by Your grace to Your light. Help us to keep it burning bright within us, so that we can reflect it to the world as You have commanded.