Of all man’s physical endowments, the most precious is the ability to see. Only those deprived of sight after having known its blessing can fully appreciate it.
There are repeated references to the eye in Scripture, and they are usually applied spiritually. Even in the dictionary we find the eye spoken of as the faculty of discrimination, perception, or discernment. Let us consider, then, some scriptural references to the eye.
Spiritual blindness is ascribed by Isaiah to those who should be God’s watchmen but fail: “His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber” (Isa. 56:10).
Spiritual blindness is also ascribed to deceitful teachers such as the Pharisees of our Lord’s day: “Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind” (Matt. 15:14).
And spiritual blindness is ascribed to those who willfully reject the truth: “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not” (2 Cor. 4:4). Isaiah described this condition in his day, “See ye indeed, but perceive not” (Isa. 6:9), and our Lord said the same thing was true in Israel during his ministry. It is also true today.
But one does not have to be blind to have seriously hampered vision. Our spiritual eyes can be out of focus, causing us to confuse immediate advantage with eternal values, secular issues with spiritual, human accomplishments with the work of God, our own opinions with the divine revelation.
The Apostle Paul speaks of those whose spiritual eyes are in focus: “We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:18). Properly focused eyes set their sights on things that are above. They see a city beyond the horizon, and they long that others too will see it.
Then there is the evil eye, the eye of him who judges the acts of God by human standards, even daring to criticize God. Jesus speaks of the impossibility of such an eye’s seeing clearly: “If thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matt. 6:23). Again he refers to the darkness that exists for those whose eyes are evil: “When thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness” (Luke 11:34).
In some eyes vision is hampered by foreign bodies. A speck of dust, a cinder, anything in the eye causes pain and distortion of sight.
The more our faults cause us pain and irritation the more prone we are to see the shortcomings of others, prejudging, misjudging, criticizing, and slandering: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and fail to notice the plank in your own?” (Matt. 7:3, Phillips).
Then there is the downcast eye, the eye that sees the problems and sorrows of life and refuses to look up to the One who is sufficient for all things. Peter walked safely on the water to meet his Lord until he looked down and let the winds and the waves, the utter impossibility of what he was doing, give him an earthly view of a heavenly experience.
In Psalm 121:1 the psalmist looks up, knowing his help comes from the Lord, the Creator of the universe. Paul tells us to seek and set our affections on the things that are above. We are to look up, not down, to God and not to this world. Our Lord, describing conditions near the end of the age, says to believers, “When these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28).
In like manner our Lord calls us to our responsibility for world evangelization: “Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, for they are white already to harvest” (John 4:35).
How often our eyes are selfish and calculating! Since the time when Eve “saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise” (Gen. 3:6), men have disobeyed God for a fancied personal advantage only to find they have exchanged eternity for a mess of secular pottage.
Many of us have looked at the material things to be had today and deliberately decided to put them first; we have forgotten Christ’s command, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God,” and his promise that the necessities of life will surely follow this decision on our part (Matt. 6:33).
We live in a day when the lustful eye is a deadly spiritual disease. Men love to have it so, and women do all they can to further it. The Apostle Peter describes our day with painful accuracy: “These are the men who delight in daylight self-indulgence.… Their eyes cannot look at a woman without lust” (2 Pet. 2:13, 14, Phillips). There is more to “girl-watching” than meets the eye; it is the lust of the heart.
The aged Apostle John tells us that all things attached to this world, including the “lust of the eyes, and the pride of life,” will pass away, “but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever” (1 John 2:17).
Strange to say, many have deliberately closed eyes, eyes that cannot see because of prejudice, presuppositions, unbelief. Our Lord wept over the people of Jerusalem because they had willfully rejected spiritual truth so that “now they are hid from thine eyes” (Luke 19:42). Here we have the weeping eyes of the Lord of love, and the self-blinded eyes of those he had come to redeem. And our generation is no different. Some eyes are closed because of laziness, some because of fearfulness, some because of a deadly indifference.
But for all diseases, all impairments of vision, there is a sure cure.
The Laodicean church, so like the Church of today, was urged to admit its wretched condition—“miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Rev. 3:17)—and among other things to anoint its eyes with Spirit-provided eye-salve that it might see.
Our Lord came preaching and healing, giving physical sight to many who were blind and spiritual sight to all who would receive him. And he still offers spiritual sight to all. The Holy Spirit opens blinded eyes so that sinners can see. His Word brings spiritual light: “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law,” the psalmist prayed. Little wonder that Satan attacks the Bible so viciously; he knows it brings sight to those who read and believe!
Pride closes the door to spiritual sight. Like the beggars of old we must come seeking the boon of sight once more: “Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou son of David.… Lord, that our eyes may be opened” (Matt. 20:31, 33). Until we admit our blindness, we will never be in a position to receive his healing touch. But when we do, we too can sing: “Once I was blind, but now I can see.”
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