- Take as Directed
- Pay Close Attention
- Bend Your Ear
- Don't Let Them Out of Your Sight
- Keep Them in Your Heart
- Closing Prayer
I have dealt with the first two directions on God's medicine bottle: "Attend to my words" and "Incline thine ear." So logically, I'm moving on to the third instruction: "Let them not depart from thine eyes." The word "them" refers to God's words and God's sayings.
The key thought in this directive could be summed up in the word focus. One of the marvelous things about human eyes, which is not true of certain other animals or creatures, is that we have two eyes, but by focusing we can form one image. Of course, that is when our eyesight is healthy and operating the way God intended. In the natural with good eyesight, incorrect focus produces blurred vision. I believe that's the problem with many people in the spiritual realm. They haven't yet learned to focus their spiritual eyesight, so their vision of spiritual things is blurred.
I think most people have the impression that the spiritual world is kind of misty, half-real, vague, unformed. I know that was my impression of religion before I came to know the Lord in a personal way. I thought of religion as a kind of mist that hung around in old church buildings. I formulated that if I were very good, then perhaps the mist would settle on my head, but it never did. So after a while, I just decided that I wasn't interested in that, and I turned elsewhere to philosophy. But the fact remains that unless we can focus our spiritual eyes, we will always have a blurred vision of spiritual reality.
Here Jesus is speaking about something that affects the whole body. Instantly, it reminds me of the statement in Proverbs 4 about God's words being health to the whole body. But here Jesus is dealing with the way we use our eyes.
I believe a body that is full of light does not have room for sickness. I believe light and darkness are mutually exclusive. Sickness is from darkness.
(Malachi 4:2 KJV)
The sun, in the natural, is the source of light. The two products of light, when the sun arises, are righteousness and healing. They are the works of light. The opposite are the works of darkness. The opposite of righteousness is sin; the opposite of healing is sickness. They are works of darkness, but righteousness and healing are works of light. Jesus is saying, "If your eye is singly focused, your whole body will be filled with light, with righteousness with health." It all depends on having a single eye.
The Greek word that has been translated as single is a word that has various meanings which I rather carefully checked in two Greek lexicons before I finished preparing this. One of the main meanings is “simple” or “sincere,” which I think probably brings out the point. If your eye is simple or sincere, if you just see things the way they are written, then you are not too clever or too philosophical. You don't know too many different ways of explaining the text away: you just take it as meaning what it says.
I previously explained that the second direction, “incline your ear;” means bow down your stiff neck, be willing to hear. There are certain normal barriers, and I have described two of them as prejudice and preoccupation. We think we already know what God ought to have said, so we are not willing to listen.
This third instruction speaks about simplicity or sincerity. I would suggest that the barriers to simplicity and sincerity are rationalization and sophistication. I become wary when I hear preachers quoting too many worldly experts, especially if they are trying to authenticate the Bible. I do not believe that the Bible needs to be authenticated by worldly experts. In the end, that doesn't build people's faith.
Sooner or later, as I have said earlier, faith comes by hearing the Word of God, and anything that distracts our attention too long from God's Word is not ultimately going to build our faith. We have to read the Bible with that single eye of simplicity and sincerity which says, "This is what God says, this is what He means, and I believe it the way it is written."
I think back to my own experience in hospital. There I was, a professor of philosophy with a knowledge of Latin and Greek, able to quote many long and learned books. As sick as I was, I was offered through God's Word a very simple, unsophisticated way of getting healed: taking God's Word as my medicine. Now, to a philosophic mind, that is pure nonsense! It is just ridiculous! You dismiss it. But, you see, I was sick, and philosophy hadn't healed me. So I was really faced with two clear alternatives: I could be clever and stay sick, or I could be simple and get healed. One thing I have always been glad about ever since—I became simple enough to get healed.
That brings out this point: If your eye is simple, if you're sincere, if you are not too profound, if you don't know too many arguments, if you can't quote all the theologians, then you have a much better chance to reach God. I am sorry to say it, but experience over many years has convinced me of that. Theology normally does not help people's faith.
Let me quote two passages from the writings of Paul to conclude this thought.
Note that we are talking about a kind of simplicity which, in the eyes of the world, is foolish. Paul wrote on this subject:
He is speaking primarily about the cross. The cross was the weakest and most foolish thing that you could conceive of in the culture of that time, but out of the weakness of the cross comes the almightiness of God. Out of the foolishness of the cross comes the unsearchable wisdom of God. So we have to turn to something very weak and very foolish to receive God's wisdom and God's strength.
A little further on in 1 Corinthians, Paul says something very interesting. Because I realize that he was speaking to people with a philosophic background just like I acquired through my studies, I can appreciate it so well.
Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. (1 Corinthians 3:18 KJV)
You see, between us and God's wisdom is a valley, a place of humility. We have to lay aside worldly wisdom become fools in the eyes of the world in order that we may really enter into God's wisdom.
At that point, I was confronted with an alternative. I could go on being wise in the world and stay sick, or I could do something that was foolish in the eyes of the world and get healed. I actually have to say, I was much wiser to be foolish and get healed than I would have been to be clever and stay sick. That may sound confusing, but it is exactly what Paul is saying: "If you are wise in this world, you need to become a fool in order that you may be wise, because God's foolishness is much wiser than man's."