photos courtesy of National Eye Institute
"No one, after lighting a lamp, puts it away in a cellar nor under a basket, but on the lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light. The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness. Then watch out that the light in you is not darkness. If therefore your whole body is full of light, with no dark part in it, it will be wholly illumined, as when the lamp illumines you with its rays." (Luke 11:33-36 NASB)
We've taken a little detour through the world of eye disease to help us understand the importance of having "clear eyes". Most of the photos used to illustrate the different types of vision loss were variations on the photo above, all from the National Eye Institute. Shocking difference, isn't it? In the normal vision photograph above, the faces are clear and the colors are bright. In the diseased vision photograph, the faces are partially obscured, and the colors are dull and muddy. There's a big difference, isn't there?
Jesus said that, when our "eye is bad" our body is filled with darkness. It's hard to understand until we compare the photo illustrating normal vision (clear vision) with the photo illustrating "dark" vision (or diseased vision) Take a moment to look at the photos and compare them to the light (or darkness) present in your own life.
If we are to be lamps on a lampstand, the light within us is kindled by the Holy Spirit. When the eye of our heart is "clear" (or not diseased) we are able to receive light and see all around us clearly. When the eye of our heart is "dark" (or diseased), the reception of light is decreased and our vision is drastically altered.
Jesus cautioned his disciples to "watch out that the light in you is not darkness." That phrase seemed odd to me, but I've learned something from our study of eye disease. Most of the eye diseases are asymptomatic (have no symptoms) until the late stages. The only way to "watch out that the light in you is not darkness" is with a regular "eye" exam. Trained professionals can examine our eyes to determine whether or not they are normal, diagnose disease at an early stage, and institute treatment to prevent worsening of the disease.
Wouldn't it be nice if we had an "eye of the soul doctor" who could diagnosis the first seeds of sin before they get roots and grow in our lives? We do! One of the Holy Spirit's jobs is the convict and correct us. Our job is to listen and follow His leading. There are times when He has quite a job with me, but my desire is to listen closely and change quickly. I've received more than enough sin-induced discipline in my life; I don't want any more.
There are two main ways I've found to keep my vision clear. (Not that I'm perfect at all.)
1. Allowing an accountability partner to speak truth with love. My friend, Shelia, and I have been praying together once a week for years. We've studied together, discussed the interpretation of Scripture together, and prayed together. Over time, we've held each other accountable in more ways than I can tell. It is not uncommon for Shelia to say, "That sounds like fear (or whatever sin I'm about to head into) to me" or "I'm not sure about that" when I'm heading in the wrong direction. She's honest with me and holds me to a higher standard, and I do the same for her. If you don't have someone in your life who will help you stay accountable, ask God to give you someone. I'm a much more faithful follower of Christ because of my friend.
Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.
Proverbs 27:17 NASB
Having a friend to help is a priceless treasure, but no one takes the place of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives. He is the spiritual equivalent of a "trained professional" for the eyes of our heart. When I ask, "Show me my heart the way You see it," He does. Although I don't always like what He shows me, I can't change what I don't know about.
But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth...
John 16:13 NASB
Open the eyes of our heart Lord, we want to see You...