I spy with my eyes

Do you see with your eyes?

It is not a rhetorical question, but a serious one.

We make the mistake of thinking that we see with our eyes when we actually only see through them. The images that pass through the lenses and falls on the retina are transmitted along the optic nerve to the brain. There the images are interpreted, assigned meaning, and produce a response where needed.

When we see a picturesque sunset, for example, our brain scans our memory bank for stored images of sunsets we’ve seen. And if nothing we’ve seen beats what is before us, we’d want to stop and savour it while it lasts, our brains capturing its beauty, ready for recall at a needful time.

There are many verses in the Bible that mentions the eye but one of them has managed to baffle Bible commentators. “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 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!” (Matt 6:22) Is a healthy eye one that is not diseased, not short or long sighted? How does having a healthy eye result in a body full of light?

Whenever you find yourself stuck with a verse of Scripture, unable to make sense of it, always look at the verse(s) preceding and following it. As a rule thumb, do not interpret a verse of Scripture out of its context. In this case, verses 20 to 22 says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Here, another body part is mentioned. The heart. The Greek used here, kardia, can also be taken to mean mind. The mind is more than the brain. It refers to your inner self, your centre, your character. Your mind, says Paul, can either be carnal or spiritual. The carnal mind is preoccupied with “the things of the flesh,” the seat of human desires, appetites, and lusts (Rom 8:5). The spiritual mind, on the other hand, “think about things that please the Spirit” and does them.

The eye is a neutral extension of the mind. It is a major source of input into the mind. It is neutral because it is merely a receptor. It does not filter or interpret what it sees before sending it to the brain. However, when two people look at the same thing, they might not have the same resulting thoughts, emotions, or action. And out of the abundance of the heart (or mind), the mouth – another extension of the mind – speaks (Luke 6:45).

When A looks at a luxury car, he admires it and perhaps might imagine for a moment himself driving it one day. That thought is not allowed to linger because contentment is strong in him. But when B looks at the exact same car, he desires it; longs for it; and formulates a plan to attain it. To A, the car is a work of art and engineering. To B, it is a status symbol.

Why the difference in response? A and B have different minds: one with a spiritual outlook and the other carnal.

Many have been raised to be careful what their eyes look upon. This same lesson is the theme of a popular children’s song “O Be Careful, Little Eyes.” It goes:

O be careful little eyes what you see
O be careful little eyes what you see
There’s a Father up above
And He’s looking down in love
So, be careful little eyes what you see

From what I’ve just shared in this article, we now understand that what’s more important is the type of mind we have.


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