When I was in my teens (a looong time ago), I read a poem by a famous Hispanic Poet regarding a rose. The person in his poem had dedicated his life dissecting roses to see what made them a certain color, size, shape, etc. Now on his death bed, someone laid a simple rose on his side table. As he admired it, a tear fell from the side of his face as he realized that he had spent his whole life focused on the wrong thing. For the first time, he realized how beautiful the rose was.
I remember that it made me cry as I realized, perhaps for the first time, the danger of going after the wrong things. The loss of time that cannot be recovered. The brevity of life. And the inevitable evaluation at one’s deathbed of the decisions one has made. It both frightened and challenged me. Since then, it has always been a desire of mine to focus on what is most important.
A few days ago, I read something that again reminded me of the importance of being intentional about the direction that we choose. It is found in Matthew 6.
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
This is taken from the famous Sermon on the Mount. I believe that this whole passage rests on verse 22. “The eye is the lamp of the body. If the eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light.”
The successful fulfillment of the instructions in verses 19-34 depends on the condition of the eye. How do I see things? Where is my treasure? What do I really value? Where is my heart? Who do I serve? Where does my provision come from? What do I worry about? What do I seek?
My biggest challenge as a Christian is to change the way I see things. The lamp of the eye. This idea of changing the way I see things is repeated throughout scripture. For example, Romans 12:2 says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Ephesians 4:23 says, “and be renewed in the spirit of your mind.”
How I see things determines how I will act. If I see the treasures on earth more valuable than the treasures of heaven, I will compromise the more eternal things to obtain the temporary. I will sacrifice such things as my time with my family, serving others, praying, etc. in exchange for such things as luxuries, comfort, entertainment, personal satisfaction, a clean house.
If I believe my provision comes from money rather than from God, I might be tempted to compromise such things as my relationship with God, my relationship with my family, my self-respect, my personal values, in order to obtain more money. It will become my master. I will worry sick because of the unknown and the uncertainty of life, which will only make me seek after security more. It might bring problems in my relationship with my spouse because he is not providing the security that I need. Not remembering all along that my true security comes from God.
My eye needs to see things the way God sees them. The way I see things will determine what I do. So in these next few days, as we evaluate our goals for 2016, lets evaluate them through that eye. An eye that looks at the eternal rather than the temporary. That desires to serve God above all else. That knows that every good thing comes from God and that He is our ultimate provider. An eye that looks to the future with the expectation not only of what God can do for us, but of what He will do in us and through us as we look to the new year with an eye of light.