Lifting our lives before the Lord is a consistent theme in the Psalms. The authors, including King David, instructed God's people to worship and revere the Heavenly Father by shifting their attention from the things of this earth heavenward. They were taught to lift their heads, their hands, their souls, songs, the cup of salvation, and eyes in reverent obedience and expectation toward God. The verses about lifting our eyes are especially meaningful in anticipation of our annual Thanksgiving holiday this Thursday. What Jesus said about the human eye amplifies the impact of the Psalms referencing lifted eyes. He said---
The eye is the lamp of the body . So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of
Matthew 6:22, ESV
And, isn't it true, the power of sight introducing so many physical, emotional, and spiritual responses in us? How many times has a luscious chocolate layer cake tempted me to violate my diabetic restrictions? It's no wonder the marketing department people make everything so appealing. Or, the not-so-subtle sexual lures of modern cinema, media, literature, and pornography. It's the new discipline of attention economy, the money advertisers invest in grabbing the eyes of potential customers. Eyes are truly a lamp to the body.
Psalms about lifted eyes are numerous. Here are a few verses---
My eyes are ever toward the Lord, for he will pluck my feet out of the net. Psalm 15:15, ESV
I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. Psalm 119: 15, ESV
I will lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? Psalm 121:1, ESV
To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens!
Psalm 123:1, ESV
But my eyes are toward you, O God, my Lord; in you I seek refuge, leave me not
defenseless. Psalm 141:8, ESV
The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. Psalm 145:15, ESV
So, what's the deal about lifted eyes at Thanksgiving. Surely we're supposed to acknowledge God's provision in every moment of life. Still, there are compelling reasons to lift our eyes as we give thanks---
1. Lifted eyes focus our attention on God's gracious and abundant provision
Ours is a get-it-done culture fueled by a strong historical work ethic and the creative genius of the human species. Over the years Thanksgiving has become a day of rest from work, what we deserve as a result of long hours and the pursuit of more. Lifted eyes are our reminder that our Sovereign God is the provider of all things. James wrote that truth in his Epistle---
Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from
above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or
shadow due to change.
James 1: 16-17, ESV
His notations of "above" and "coming down" shift us to that which comes from God. You know, upward.
2. Lifted eyes elevate our hearts and minds above our circumstances.
Life is hard. In these times it is also fast and complicated. The motions of every day can become consuming, the ownership of life circumstances that overwhelm and define us. Lifting our eyes to God gives us the peace that Paul wrote about in 2 Corinthians---
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being
renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal
weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to
the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that
are unseen are eternal.
2 Corinthians 4: 16-18, ESV
Fixing our eyes on God gives us the perspective of heaven, the eternal reality that carries us through the daily circumstances, no matter how trying.
3. Lifted eyes express our gratitude to the people around us.
It's a world on the move and we believers are to be the salt and light that influence it. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians at Ephesus about their conduct toward others and the influence of their example in a broken world---
Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but
instead let there be thanksgiving.
Ephesians 5:4, ESV
So, yes, Thanksgiving is a time for family, special events, some of the cultural side-bars, and a couple of days away from the job. For believers, however, and for all Americans, it should be a time of lifted eyes, genuine gratitude for the one who provides and sustains us every day.
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