Protect Your Eyes

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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I will not look with approval on anything that is vile. I hate what faithless people do; I will have no part in it.

Psalms 101:3

Sometimes when I am out working in my shop, I put on protective eyewear. My safety goggles guard my eyes from bits of sawdust or slivers of metal that might cause harm when I'm sawing or sanding. My eyes are precious and I don't want anything to injure them.

Psalm 101:3 urges us to protect our eyes metaphorically. The first part of this verse reads in the NIV: "I will not look with approval on anything that is vile." The Hebrew for this sentence reads more literally, "I will not set before my eyes a thing that is wicked or worthless." The phrase "to set before ones eyes" can mean "to look with approval," but it also has a more obvious sense of, "to choose to look at." The psalmist promises to avert his eyes from things he ought not to be gazing upon.

What are these things? The NIV refers to "anything that is vile." The ESV prefers, "anything that is worthless." The Hebrew word lying beneath these translations is beliyya‘al, which has a basic meaning of "worthlessness" and a derived meaning of "baseness, wickedness." In saying that he will not look upon a thing of beliyya‘al, the psalm writer is not meaning he will turn his eyes away from injustice and ignore evil that needs to be seen and opposed. Rather, he is saying that he will not look with approval or with desire or with envy upon that which might turn his heart away from the Lord and his ways.

Most of us know not to gaze upon evil that might tempt us to sin, though we may at times focus our eyes wrongly upon that for which we have lustful feelings or unseemly desires. Yet, as I reflect upon Psalm 101:3, I am challenged by the notion of not setting before my eyes that which is worthless. I think of all the hours I have wasted watching mindless TV shows or envying those who have "stuff" that I desire. I confess I have lots to learn about choosing to attend to what really matters: people to be loved, goodness to be celebrated, injustice to be overcome, created glory to inspire my worship.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Which "vile" things are you tempted to set your eyes upon? Which "worthless" things cry out for your attention? How might you fill your vision with that which is good and worthy of your gaze?

PRAYER: Gracious God, as I read the first part of Psalm 101:3, I am struck by the fact that, all too often, I do set before my eyes that which is vile or worthless. Sometimes I look upon it with approval. But, mostly, I allow my mind and heart to be saturated with a vision of that which diminishes my love for you. Forgive me, Lord. Help me to turn my eyes away from sinful and meaningless things, and to turn my eyes toward you and those things that honor you. When I see evil, may I do so in order to be an agent of your goodness and justice in this world. Amen.


Simplicity at Work

In our complicated, 21st century, high-tech, high-speed world, people have begun to crave a simpler approach to life and work. In the series Simplicity at Work, The High Calling explores simplicity in the places we work and the ways we work; and, perhaps more subtly, we want to explore simplicity at work in us through a variety of stories that reveal ways people find freedom and success when they simplify. Join us for Bible reflections, featured articles, and discussion. Invite your colleagues to do the same.

Image above by Samual John. Used with Permission. Source via Flickr.