Lust of the Eyes
In my last post we talked about the first “lust” mentioned in this short but powerful verse-the lust of the eyes.
Today I am going to tackle the second lust, or as the ESV says-DESIRES. So what exactly is a desire of the eyes? One word that comes to mind immediately for me is envy. Wanting what belongs to another, or what another has attained or been given. It’s that inner voice screaming I WANT!!
Scripture has much to say about it. The somewhat archaic word “covet” found in the Ten Commandments is also used a few other times in both the Old and New Testament. We would do well to study these in context of the entire passage to get some idea of what coveting is. (Ex. 20:17, Dt. 5:21,Dt. 7:25,Jos. 7:21,Mic 2:2,Ro. 7:7,Ro. 7:8,Ro. 13:9,Jas. 4:2 ). There are a few examples about the result of coveting also. Who doesn’t know the story of David’s coveting of Bathsheba? ( 2 Sam. 11:1-17). Pay special attention to how this all started …2 Sam. 11:2 says One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful. As a result of this “lust of the eyes”, David committed adultery, and arranged for the death of Bathsheba’s husband Uriah after learning she was pregnant. Another great example but less known is the story of Achan (Joshua 7:1-26). The Lord had been with Joshua as he did the Lord’s warfare to gain a Jewish homeland. When it came to Jericho, many of the tribes were frightened. So God gave Joshua and the people a very specific set of instructions…. And if you read Joshua 6 you’ll see a command that sometimes gets skipped over (Josh. 6:18 ): But keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them. Otherwise you will make the camp of Israel liable to destruction and bring trouble on it. As I hope you read, Achan disobeyed because he SAW all the pretty riches.
In just those two examples, I’m sure you get the idea. I saw, I wanted, I sinned! I think, living in the USA, even our most impoverished citizens have lives that others from many other countries do not have. I have to wonder if so many of our social woes are a result of this lust of the eyes thing. Stealing, rape, robbery of any kind and are all a result of “I WANT what you have”. Jealousy, envy and even outright hatred are all the result of this lust of the eyes.
While I am pretty sure Jesus was speaking figuratively when he said “And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. “ (Mt. 18:9), I really think that He was telling us to be careful to keep our eyes on Him. It refers to temptations that assault us from without (as opposed to the lust of the flesh which is from within). John has in mind those sinful cravings which are activated by what people see, and lead to covetousness and even greed. It is the strong desire for what is seen, for the outward form of things; it is the lust after the superficial. Superficial lusting after might also include spending too much time on social media to see what others think about YOUR post, watching programs that appeal to only your way of thinking, and surrounding yourself with only those people you view as “your kind”. Think about it—isn’t that sort of a “lust of the eyes”?
I was curious so I did a word search in the NIV of “eye”. This paired body part is mentioned over 500 times. Two that I found especially relevant are both written by the wisest man on earth, Solomon.
Death and Destruction are never satisfied,
and neither are human eyes.
All things are wearisome,more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,nor the ear its fill of hearing.
We’ll finish up this verse with “pride” (shiver)! I’ll be taking a look at John’s view and what the Bible says about it. I get a sneaking suspicion that we’ll be hearing a lot more from the writings of Solomon too.
I’m trying to figure out a few things that might be posted just for the Abiding Ways Facebook page. I’m definitely open to suggestion!
I’ll be back on Friday so be sure to check in. Next week is Thanksgiving week and right after that is the beginning of Advent. I’ll be posting a few of my favorite personal resources( freebies to be found on the Facebook page) as well sharing from others and my own devotional time. A little history, a little singing, and it’s all exciting!