What lights our way?

Christ makes a statement about healthy eyesight: “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light” (Matt 6:22).

The language here is a little archaic and perhaps shrouds the true meaning. The word “light” carries the idea of a lamp or a candle. What the eyes take in enlightens the path we take in life. We are exhorted to have eyes that are “single”, that is, whole, sound, or healthy. The ESV translates this particular passage as follows: “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light”.

This begs the question: What kind of light illuminates the path of our feet? Is it healthy? We only need to think of the words of the Psalms to find out what should be enlightening our path: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” “The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple” (Psa 119:105,130). The ESV translates entrance as “unfolding” and the idea of unrolling a scroll and reading it is portrayed. The result is an enlightened life that is directed on the right path. This will direct our thinking when it comes to putting our trust in God. As Paul tells us in Romans 10:17, faith comes from hearing… the word of God. To walk a faithful path in life we must be enlightened by the Word (Eph 1:18) and if we want our eyes to be enlightened by the Truth, we have to make sure we expose them to God’s Word regularly.

What are the images that dance through our imaginations? Are they images from our computer and TV screens? If so, we will not be enlightened to walk the path God would have us take. If we have unhealthy eyesight we will stumble and fall. As the Lord went on to say: “But 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). The word “evil” can carry the idea of diseased, blind, pressed or harassed by labour. If our eyes are diseased, our minds will not be enlightened by the Truth, and when the tests of faith come, we will take the wrong path because we don’t have the eyesight or spiritual perception to distinguish what is God’s way. Remember, God warns us, “My ways are not your ways, and my thoughts are not your thoughts”.

We can easily be blinded by the pursuits of this world, as the Apostle Paul warns us: “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (2 Cor 4:3-4). The world today has its gods. They are the men and philosophies that mankind highly esteems. They can be world leaders, business moguls, Hollywood idols, TV personalities, internet sensations who all have their own ‘brand’ of reasoning attendant with its group of followers. This is perhaps demonstrated in a practical way by the modern practice of ‘following’ a popular personality on social media and taking every word that is said by this personality as the direction one should live their life by.

The Lord warns us that worldly wisdom will blind us and darken our spiritual eyesight (Luke 11:34-36). When our king warns us to “take heed” it means that there is a great danger lurking that we must be aware of. The problem with spiritual  blindness is that it isn’t easy to identify with self-diagnosis. In fact, most people who are spiritually blind do not realize it. The ecclesia in Laodicea was in this category (Rev 3:17).

The lack of perception of our conditions is a typical flaw of human nature. The remedy is given by the Lord Jesus Christ: “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see” (Rev 3:18). We must constantly anoint our eyes with eye salve so that we don’t fall into the category of knowing not that we are blind. We need to take affirmative and preventative action so that we do not end up being spiritually blind due to a neglect of the Word of God, and consequently incapacitated when it comes to fighting the giants in our lives – which are only overcome through faith (1 John 5:4).

The contest for our allegiance

Our God is jealous over our affections, just as He was with the nation of Israel whom He redeemed out of Egypt. He has liberated us from the dominion of sin and, just like Israel of old, we are to abandon our idols (Exod 20:1-5). God is jealous over us because He has redeemed us with the precious blood of His son (1 Pet 1:18-19).

The problem we face in our daily lives is really a question of allegiance: “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matt 6:24).The word “serve”carries the idea of being a slave to, doing service for, being under obedience to or subjection to, or yielding ourselves to. We must choose which master we will yield to, as we can only be under the control of one master. A crisis of allegiance will develop if we have two masters. It is simply a natural outcome that we will detest “one, and love the other”. The response to the feeling of hate or love is seen in the action. We will “hold” to the one (the Greek means to cleave to, pay heed to or hold firmly to) and “despise” or disdain the other. So we have to ask ourselves the self-searching question: What do we hold to for all we are worth, and what do we think nothing of and are willing to let go? Translating this into your evening activities: What is dismissed when we are busy? Is it the sports event, the TV show, the overtime at work? Or is it the Bible class, the readings or personal study? What do we hold on to for dear life, and what do we let slip by?

There is a cold hard reality stated at the end of verse 24: we “cannot serve God and mammon”. Mammon here refers to treasure or riches which are personified as a master. It was Paul who asked this question: “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (Rom 6:16).

It is our choice to whom we “yield” ourselves to obey. Remember – God will not accept second place in our hearts. “For thou shalt worship no other god: for Yahweh, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God” (Exod 34:14).