Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in
His wonderful face, and the things of
earth will grow strangely dim in the
light of His Glory and Grace.
The words of this song, known and sung for many years, are a continual reminder of where our focus needs to be during our earthly pilgrimage. They remind us of the verse in Hebrews 12:2. “Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Our spiritual gaze directed always to Him accomplishes in a significant measure the work of God in our lives. As II Corinthians 3:18 describes, “But we all with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” Our enemy, Satan, knows this better than we do, and daily provides opportunities for us to turn our eyes, to look, and to behold that which is destructive to our lives. Broadly summarized, these are three in number.
The first of these is to turn our eyes in such a way as to look at our circumstances. When we look at these in such a way as to behold them, one of two things invariably happens. If they are favorable, and we are satisfied with them, we are in the danger described in Hosea 13:6. “As they had their pasture, they became satisfied, and being satisfied, their heart became proud and they forgot me.” If they are unfavorable, our response may be that of Habakkuk in Chapter 1:2-4. “How long, O LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you “Violence!” but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.” To behold unfavorable circumstances and dwell on them leads to discouragement and/or depression.
Similarly, if we turn our eyes on others, we see the same pattern. Observe the words spoken in Luke18:11. “The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself; God, I thank you that I am not like other men-robbers, evildoers, adulterers-or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.” Because of the pride of his heart, he was not justified before God. (Luke 18:14) If our eyes are turned to others, we may, in contrast to the above, enter into the experience of Asaph, described for us in Psalm 73. “But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foot hold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” (Verses 2-3) “This is what the wicked are like-always carefree, they increase in wealth.” (Verse 12) “When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me.” (Verse 16) Asaph suffered from discouragement of his spirit because his eyes were turned toward others.
Thirdly, the same results are produced in our lives when we turn to look at ourselves. Daniel 4:30 records the words of Nebuchadnezzar moments before he was driven from his kingdom to eat the grass of the field. “He said, Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” Looking at ourselves may also have the opposite effect, as recorded in I Kings 19:4. “He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. I have had enough, LORD, he said. Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Elijah was physically exhausted, alone, and after contemplating his condition became depressed in his spirit.
If our eyes are turned in such a way as to behold and contemplate our circumstances, others, or ourselves, it can lead only to one of two outcomes; pride or discouragement/depression. Both are destructive forces which war against our walk with Christ. It is only with our gaze firmly beholding Him that the things of earth grow strangely dim. It is only then that we are are able to live in the light of His Glory and His Grace.