Monday, August 15, 2011

August 15, 2008 … Seeing Clearly

Passage of the Day: Matthew 6: 22 – 23 … [NIV] 22 "The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

Matt. 6: 22-23 in NASB: 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is [a]clear, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

My Journal for Today: There’s an interesting paradox as we continue with Jesus’ teachings on stewardship from the Sermon on the Mount. In today’s passage, provided in both NIV and NASB, our Lord is trying to show believers the one key to have clear spiritual discernment. And yet in the teaching process, He uses word pictures that make it challenging for His disciples to get a clear picture of what He’s trying to teach. It’s almost as if Christ was giving a pop-quiz on spiritual discernment while he was teaching on the subject. It might be like an optometrist saying to a patient, “Look in this lens and tell me what you see. [And then he puts a lens in front of your eyes that makes the image look like the patient is seeing through a murky lens covered with gel.]” Jesus was THE Master Teacher; but at times one has to really stretch the mind to find what He’s teaching about so that the heart will benefit. And that, I believe, is what Jesus continually does … stretch our minds and hearts, as Christians, … all the way to eternity.

Also, I believe, Jesus – to extent my pop-quiz metaphor – is teaching to see if His disciples truly believe Him. In other words, a non-believer CANNOT get what He’s saying because a non-believer gets no discernment assist from God’s Spirit. But this lesson, from today’s text, is being taught prior to Pentecost; and it would take the prevenient grace of God’s Spirit, giving Spiritual “lenses” to any in Jesus’ audience that day as He preached this sermon so that His disciples could really be able to “see” what He was teaching with clarity. In other words, if anyone in that audience had the ability to understand this lesson, Jesus knew that seeker truly believed and really wanted to follow Him. What about you? Do you believe what Jesus is teaching with His words above in Matt. 6: 22-23; because if you really do, then you can read/meditate on God’s word, and God’s Spirit will teach you God’s meaning from His word.

Again, back to our passage from Matt. 6, our Lord speaks of the “eye” being the lamp (or “window” in other translations) for the body (or the “soul,” if you will). If you study from the NASB version, you’ll read that Jesus says, “If your eye is CLEAR, …” which provides the optimum view on discernment. The term, “clear,” (or “good” above in the NIV) is from a Greek construct meaning “generous.” So, what Jesus is rather obtusely challenging his followers to understand is that the generosity of one’s heart contributes to the clarity of the Christian to discern what comes into the heart as light coming through a window. If the window is very dirty [from a greedy heart], very little light gets in. If the window is very clean [from a generous spirit], more of the light gets through and we can see life so much more clearly.

So, restating this again for clarity [redundancy teaches!], the generous heart is a clear window, letting the light of God’s truth into the soul. But the opposite is the case with a begrudging or selfish heart, which, if it were the condition of the believer’s heart, would block God’s light from getting in, darkening the soul, and resulting in spiritual density. Have you ever felt, in reading God’s word or listening to a sermon, that you just didn’t get it? Well, maybe it would be wise for us to look at our own heart at that time. Could it be that we are pursuing selfish gains or holding a grudge or retaining our money from God’s kingdom? Maybe opening up to a genuinely generous spirit – the HOLY SPIRIT – you can take the blinders off and you can see God’s way more clearly.

John MacArthur in his daily devotional from Strength for Today, very nicely today paraphrases the message of Jesus today by writing, “How you handle your money (time or talents) is the key to your spiritual perception.” If your heart is on heaven and in tune with Christ, you will have a generous spirit and a giving nature. If your treasure is withheld here on earth in selfishness, you will be near-sighted or even blinded spiritually and your greed will be apparent.

I leave it you to do the self-analysis as I’m doing mine here this morning. How well do we see things through the lens of God’s Spirit; and just how does the eye of generosity in our soul let the light of Christ in?

My Prayer Today: Help me to see more and give more of myself, Lord! Amen

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