‘I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship’ (Rom 12:1). Indeed our God places a high premium on our holiness. It is because our bodies, though sown in dishonor, are to be raised in glory (1 Cor 15:42). It will one day pass from weakness to power, says the apostle.
Paul’s letters are full of exhortations reminding us to be careful in this vital area. As Christians we are called to holiness. ‘For God did not call us to impurity but in holiness’ (1 Thess 4:7). God has revealed his heart in the following verses. ‘For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from fornication; that each one of you know how to control your own body in holiness and honor, not with lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God’ (2 Thess. 4:3-5).
We communicate with the outer world through our senses. These five senses are also the doors through which the filth of this world enters our hearts. Of these five senses, Lord Jesus Christ considers the eye as one major reason that is capable of leading us to sin. ‘If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body t0 be thrown into hell’ (Mt 5:29). Jesus gives this difficult teaching while talking about adultery. ‘But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart’ (Mt 5:28). In a world where cell phones, internet, cinema and social media are spreading the vicious net of lust before our eyes, our options shrink to just one thing; control our eyes.
It has been the practice of many priests and monks to keep their eyes focussed just in front of their feet. They never allowed their eyes to gaze as they liked. They have learned how to avoid looking at persons and things beyond a certain distance. For our generation, it will be a surprise to know that the Typicon (the rule book for spiritual life prescribed by religious congregations to its members) of many congregations contained a clause that they should limit their vision to persons and things just in front of them by specifying a distance of three meters for their eyes. They knew that the eye is the lamp of the body. ‘So if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light (Mt 6:22). For them keeping their eyes within the self imposed limits was the only way to keep them healthy in their Lord’s eyes.
David was so blessed to be commended by God in words that will be the envy of every person. ‘I have found David, son of Jesse, to be a man after my heart, who will carry out all my wishes’ (Acts 13:23). But David’s undoing was the result of permitting his eyes to wander and reach places where they should never have reached. On the other hand Job controlled his eyes with the help of a covenant. ‘I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I look upon a virgin?’ (Job 31:1). The Book of Proverbs tells us about God’s wish regarding our eyes. ‘Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you’ (Prov. 4:25). John the Apostle, whose inner eyes were opened to see things as far as the end of times, once wrote about certain things that are not from the Father. Of them one is ‘ the desire of the eyes’ (1 Jn 2:16).
Blessed are those who fix their eyes in the Lord. ‘He will wipe away every tear from their eyes’ (Rev 7:17)
Let us pray:
Our Father in heaven, whose eyes are ten thousand times brighter than the sun, You have given us our eyes as lamps for our bodies. May our eyes see nothing impure. We pray for your grace to keep our eyes holy till the moment they close forever. Amen.