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Observant.


Careful living involves establishing moral and ethical boundaries around our human senses. We must be careful about what we hear. Even more, deliberate, intentional faith requires guarding our eyes. In the teaching of Jesus what we observe and perceive visually may be the most significant element of genuine faith. During the Sermon on the Mount Jesus taught his disciples the strategic role of human eyes. He presented the shocking truth about the powerful potential of the gift of sight---

But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already

committed adultery with her in his heart.

Matthew 5: 28, ESV

If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you

lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.

Matthew 5:29, ESV

The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of

light, but if you eye is bad , your whole body will be full of darkness.

Matthew 6:22, ESV

This truth is clearly depicted in the New Testament. During his earthly ministry Jesus healed more than a few individuals afflicted with blindness (see Matthew 9: 27-31; Matthew 20:29-34;; Mark 8: 22-26; Mark 10: 46-52; John 9:1). He also taught profound lessons on the value of spiritual eyesight in understanding the things of the Kingdom. One such passage was delivered to the disciples in the Parable of the Sower. They had asked Jesus why he taught the people in parables---

Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” And

he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of

heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and

he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken

away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and

hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. Indeed, in their case the prophecy of

Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “‘“You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will

indeed see but never perceive.” For this people's heart has grown dull, and with their ears

they can barely hear,and their eyes they have closed lest they should see with their eyes

and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal

them.’

Matthew 13: 10-15, ESV

Having eyes to see and ears to hear were foundational to understanding with the heart.

There's a more implicit emphasis on having eyes to see in the writing of the Apostle Paul. Over and over he used a cognitive of the Greek word "blepo" (meaning literally to see) in his instruction about Kingdom living. While there are many repetitions of this translation nuance in the Epistles of Paul, one has been most significant to me as I labored over the "careful" terms in the Book of Deuteronomy. Paul wrote---

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the

time, because the days are evil.

Ephesians 5: 15-16, ESV

Other versions are more vivid in explaining this ideal of the Christian life, that is, how we are to live it. In the NIV verse 15 is translated, "Be very careful how you live...". One of the emphatic points is that nearly every version translates the Greek derivative "blepete", that is, physical sight, as a discipline to be practiced "carefully". This verb "blepete" defines vision. Usually it implies "paying attention", "being alert", a sense of "watchfulness", being "observant". In the theological underpinnings of the Apostle Paul's writing and mission work is the idea that careful living is displaying care is the use of our eyes.

Being observant about life around us is clearly a valued spiritual discipline. Paul wrote to the Corinthians with the spiritual advice to be observant---"Look at what is before your eyes" (2 Corinthians 10:7, ESV). To the Philippians he wrote---"...keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us (Philippians 3:17, ESV). If the eyes are the lamp of the body (see Matthew 6:22) then they can bring darkness to the heart and spirit. That's the addictive horror of pornography, illicit and enticing reading material, rated television, and even much of the material in the apps so popular in our younger generation. Living carefully means being observant about what enters through that powerful and profound lamp.

The anonymous author of the Epistle to the Hebrews established a norm for this kind of careful, observant living. He wrote---

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off

everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with

perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and

perfecter of faith.

Hebrews 12: 1-2, NIV

It's a power verse regarding careful living. Having our eyes fixed on him will certainly give us the observation needed avoid the distractions and live the life he planned for us.

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