A Single Eye!
George Everard, 1885
"The lamp of your body is the eye. When your eye is single your whole body also is full of light; but when it is evil your body also is full of darkness." Luke 11:34
I well remember a Sunday-school teacher in London who, when past sixty, was not tired of his work. He was a man of fixed character and steadfast purpose in the service of Christ. His occupation was that of a clerk in a large business house, and here, as elsewhere, it was his desire and aim to do all for the glory of God. So with his penknife he cut out on the desk where he worked these three words, "A Single Eye!" He wished them to be ever before him, and it was his daily and hourly petition that he might carry them out in his daily life.
There is no grace more precious than this. Let it be your aim to cultivate it all through life. Let this grace of "a single eye" be manifest in you, and it will add to life a beauty and a glory which will affect everything you say or do. It will help you in your daily walk, and others will see in you more of the reality and power of God's grace than they have ever seen before. It will help you in your school work and in all your studies. If you make it your main desire in these, to honor and please God, so to do them that you may the better serve Him in the life-work that lies before you, you cannot fail of your reward. You may succeed or fail in obtaining position or distinction, but in either case your work will be owned and accepted by your Father in Heaven.
Think of the words of the Lord Jesus: "The lamp of your body is the eye. When your eye is single, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is evil, your body also is full of darkness." When the natural eye is clear and good — it is like a lamp to the whole body. It guides the hand and the foot, and directs a man in the way in which he should move and walk. But when the eye sees double, or is clouded or dim — it impedes all action, and leads often to the greatest danger and mischief.
It is so with the inner eye of the soul, that is, the aim and intention with which we act. We need that it be set on serving and pleasing God, and Him alone. We must not serve two masters, or look two ways, or mingle an earthly motive with a heavenly one. We must watch lest covetousness, selfishness, pride, ambition, the love of human praise, or any other wrong temper or disposition — turns us aside or gets the upper hand even for a moment. We must put God first, seek His glory and His kingdom as our primary object, and then the whole life and conduct will be in accordance with His will and bring with it a sure reward.
We have an excellent commentary on the meaning of our Lord's words in Ephesians 6:5-7. Paul is writing to servants, and he exhorts them to the manifestation of this grace: "Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men."
Here is the "single eye" — you must look away from man. You must not act as beneath the eye of a fellow-mortal. You must set Christ ever before you. You must strive in everything to please Him, and thus do the will of your Father in Heaven.
But HOW may you gain this single eye — and amidst all temptations, act as a faithful servant of the Lord?
First, you must exercise full and unreserved confidence in God's promises. You must rely without wavering upon God's free mercy and grace to you in Christ. You must believe in His providential care and watchful love. Remember that unbelief goes side by side with double-mindedness and a resort to carnal expedients. If men cannot trust in God, they will try to shift for themselves, and this will lead them into doubtful paths.
But if men thoroughly trust in God, as Abraham did, then like him they will be ready to obey the hardest precepts, and not shrink from the greatest sacrifices. Therefore, if you want "a single eye," be sure you trust God utterly. Trust Him with your soul — and trust Him with your circumstances. Trust Him to order all events for your good, and to bring you through all troubles and temptations. Trust Him to hear your prayers, and to fill you with His own blessed Spirit. Trust Him in life and in death. So will you the better be enabled in all things to do or suffer His holy will.
A second point is important.
If you would keep a single eye — then you must walk and live as beneath the eye of the Heart-Searcher. In olden times a sculptor was once asked why he was so particular about the parts of a statue that would be hidden by the wall of the temple for which it was designed. "The gods see it," was his answer. It were well if Christians would remember that their most secret acts and thoughts are ever before Him who searches us through and through.
You may deceive your fellow-men, you may deceive yourself by vain excuses . . .
for neglect of work,
for choosing as a close friend a follower of the world instead of a follower of Christ,
for yielding to the spirit of the world,
for withholding time and talents that ought to be dedicated to the service of the Master
— but you cannot deceive Him. "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account!" Hebrews 4:13
Judge everything as in His sight. Think of the hour when every motive and principle of action, as well as every word and deed, will be laid bare.
Thirdly, make it your set purpose, and at any cost, to do that which is right before Him. Tolerate in yourself no wrong motive, no willful neglect of duty, no act of ill, be it small or great. Come what will, go forward in the path of duty. Whatever it cost you — property, or ease, or comfort — do as God bids you. Keep the comfort of a good conscience, and leave all else with God. You will be no loser: God is a good paymaster, and rewards His servants a hundredfold.
"Less wayward let me be, more pliable and mild;
In glad simplicity, more like a little child.
Less, less of self each day — and more, my God, of Thee,
Oh keep me in the way, however rough it be.
Less of the flesh each day, less of the world and sin;
More of Your Son, I pray, more of Yourself within.
Leave nothing that is unfit; of all that is my own
Strip me; and so complete my training for Your throne."
— Horatius Bonar