If The Eyes Have It – Be Careful

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In some business meetings involving a large number of people, a final decision is made by asking the voters to say “I” if they vote yes and “Nay” if they vote no. If the vote of the “I’s” is more than the vote of the “Nays”, the chairperson says, “The I’s have it”, and the item voted on is adopted. In daily life, we as individuals vote yes or no on many personal issues involving things we want. If we get what we want, we can say, “The eyes have it.”

Obviously, it is foolish to vote for something that is bad for us, but that is often what happens when the “eyes” get what they want.

Someone once told me there are ten kinds of humor. Employing the use of two words with a similar sound (called a pun) is probably low on the humor scale, but it seemed like a fun idea to make a point using the “I” and the “eye”. Oftentimes, when any vote is taken, there has not been enough information given, or enough thought put into it to decide whether, or not, what we get will be good or bad for us. Obviously, it is foolish to vote for something that is bad for us, but that is often what happens when the “eyes” get what they want.

Every day we direct our eyes to items in ads, stores, malls, on the internet, and so forth; and we see things we want, so we often vote to buy them. Was it good or bad for us? That depends. There is a verse in the Bible that mentions something called “the lust of the eyes” (1 John 2:16). The lust, or desire of the eyes, leads to various kinds of corruption. For example, we may buy things we want only to bolster our self-image. We may boast about what we have so others think more highly of us. What we buy feeds our pride or our need for attention. Voting for the “lust of the eyes” can also turn into a life controlled by greed and we end up focusing on how to get money to buy the things we want.

We live in a materialistic culture and it is constantly presenting us with things to buy, so much so that our life is focused on the things of this world to the neglect of the things of God. The point made in First John 2:16 is that we can be corrupted by the things of the world. For us to love the ways of the world, and the things of the world, means that the love of God is not in us. When we truly have the love of God in us, we are able to maintain a proper balance between the material and the spiritual. We are reminded in this portion of the Bible that “this world is passing away, and its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lasts forever” (1 John 2:15-17).

Another area of life involving the “lust of the eyes” is porn. Usually, we think of pornography as a men’s sport, church members, and pastors of churches included. However, sociological studies also show a growing porn use among teens and women. Our world is not only materialistic, but sex is a huge emphasis in the world around us. In many parts of the world, we are daily inundated with sex-inciting images. The temptations of images we see can be overwhelming. Think of king David in the Bible, a man of God whose life was corrupted by letting his eyes gaze upon a woman. He voted to go after what his eyes focused on and this resulted in adultery, the murder of her husband, and taking the woman as his own wife. God was not pleased.

It’s important to control the direction of our eyes. What we see can be good, for example, seeing the needs around us and having compassion that moves us to help in whatever ways we can. And, as we have seen, what we see can have bad results. The Bible offers words that can help us with our eye problem. For example, Job 31:1 says, “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?” I asked a Christian friend who is overcoming pornography addiction how he keeps his eyes from ogling women. He said one method he uses is the two-second rule. Whenever he is found looking at a tempting situation, he looks away within two seconds. He has made an agreement with himself. Proverbs 4:25 says, “Let your eyes look directly ahead and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.”  Psalm 119:37 is a prayer. We can pray it every day if we want God to help us wisely choose what we see. It says, “Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity, and revive me in your ways.” Jesus also warned us to be careful to avoid the lust of the eyes (Matthew 5:29). The eyes have what they vote for, so be careful.

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Jay Ashbaucher
Jay Ashbaucher is a native of Northwest Ohio and is currently a retired pastor and published author. He holds a Master of Divinity degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and has been a pastor and teacher in Montana for over 44 years. Jay taught grief classes in a hospital setting, and worked for twenty years as a fifth-step counselor and lecturer in an alcoholic-drug treatment center getting to know the hearts of people struggling to get well. While pastoring in Montana, he had enjoyed racquetball, hunting, fishing, and traveling the Big Sky State. Now living in Southeast Michigan, Jay enjoys his family, reading, hiking, golf, time with friends, and time with his fun-to-be-with wife. They have two happily married children and seven grandchildren.