Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matt. 6:21b “. . .there will your heart be also.”
Where are our wallets, prayers, thoughts, calendars, and ballots primarily focused? It is absolutely essential we take time to analyze where our treasures actually are, for only in this way can we know the exact state of our heart. We need this knowledge, for the heart determines the direction of our whole life. In Scripture, “heart” refers to the central essence of personality and being. As our internal command center, it governs the affections, desires, emotions, will, and intellect.
We must ever be evaluating where our heart actually is, for wherever it is, that is the direction our whole lives are headed. As one “thinketh in his heart, so is he” (PR 23:7). Our energies and efforts always will inevitably flow in the direction of our heart’s deepest longings. What it values we pursue. Our aims and intents press toward it. Our whole lives become intertwined with the heart’s desires.
If our treasure (wallets, prayers, thoughts, calendars, ballots) is of earth, this tells us our heart is focused on earth and will seek to pull our all downward. It is hard to lift our efforts to heaven if our hearts are elbow-deep in the world. On the other hand, if Christ is our treasure, our heart will be doing all it can to pull all our essence heavenward. To accent this truth, Christ now uses a powerful illustration.
Matt. 6:22 “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single,
thy whole body shall be full of light.”
Jesus used a very straightforward word-picture. All light entering our physical body must come into us through our eyes. The organs of sight make reception of light possible, enabling our body to see its way clearly to do things. If our eyes are blurred or unfocused, our vision is distorted, and body activity becomes difficult, but if the eye is “single”–no astigmatism, no near or far sightedness–we can see things clearly, as they really are, can focus precisely on the object of sight, and our whole body can thus perform activities well without fumbling or stumbling.
This image has special meaning for me today. In Kansas City last Wednesday (6-10-98) Dr. Daniel Durrie performed laser surgery on my daughter’s eyes, changing her vision from legally blind to 20/30. Rebekah’s vision is now “single.”
Our Master’s metaphor is very vivid. The “eye” symbolizes our heart, our mind’s eye. The heart, the eye of our spirit, determines which stimuli are allowed to reach our innermost self. The “whole body” refers to our conduct in reaction to the stimuli our heart lets in. Our behavior will correspond to what filters through our heart. If the heart is “single,” flooding into our essence heavenly, godly light, then our “whole body shall be full of light,” that is, the actual life we live will be full of evidences of true spirituality. Our heart always determines the way we live.
Thus, life’s ultimate urgency is to be sure the heart, our spirit’s eye, is “single,” focused clearly, without blur or distortion, on one wisely chosen object. The heart must be steady, exclusively fixed on serving God supremely. It must look in one direction only, heavenward, undistracted by worldly pleasures and anxieties.
Allow me to challenge us as a body on this issue. How is the heart of Second Baptist Church? Are we all on the same page, focused on one clear objective, to please God in all things? Every member a minister, every member ministered to–is it a cliché or our mandate? Is everyone ministering? Touch the World 98–is it merely a slogan or are we all finding our place? Pastor R.G. Lee, fifty years ago this year, preached, “If our hearts are not 25,000 miles in circumference, they are too small. If our arms do not embrace the whole world, they are too short.”
Are we all yielding to daily prayer and Bible reading, seeking to draw ever nearer to Jesus? How clear is our collective focus? “A consistent church is a terrible church; an honest, upright church would shake the world. The tramp of godly men is the tramp of heroes; these are the thundering legions that sweep everything before them” (Spurgeon). God make us not a museum of show-offs or a mausoleum of hiding cowards, but a marching army of soldiers with one common loyalty.
Our only chance for spiritual success, corporately and individually, is singleness of purpose. Singleminded people are unstoppable. Folks focused with entire devotion move forward without doubt. Columbus succeeded because he gave himself with total obsession to one idea–Ocean Sea could be crossed. Nothing could deter him, neither fear, superstitions, prior failures, nor threats of mutiny.
Christians, press for absolute success before God. Aim only to please Him and let this one ruling passion press all other thoughts into submission. Grab hold of one single solitary thought, a precious love for Jesus, and live it out at all cost.
Moses succeeded as long as he kept focused on Him who is invisible. At forty he gave up fame and riches in Egypt. At eighty he gave up quiet retirement.
Joseph caught hold of one goal in life–to please God in everything. As a youth, he would not have sex, though his master’s wife sought to seduce him. Later in life he would not take revenge on the brothers who sold him into slavery.
Paul succeeded because his heart, his mind’s eye, was single. He said, “To me to live is Christ. . . .This one thing I do. . .I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (PH 1:21; 3:13a,14). With a single eye, he marked the target, setting his sights on a prize he unwaveringly headed toward.
Pastor R.G. Lee and his bride began their wedding night by kneeling next to the bed to dedicate their all to God. To this singlemindedness they stayed true a lifetime. Years later, R.G. Lee on his deathbed asked for his family to be brought to his side. He said he wanted them to see how a man of God ought to die.
Our best and only hope for a contented Christian life is to make up our mind once and for all to live supremely for one thing–to please God in everything. On this one goal we must concentrate our efforts and converge our energies. We will never find “joy unspeakable” by serving God with only half a heart. He can fill our heart with contentment only if we have given Him our whole heart to fill. We will never enjoy His full peace till every idol is turned out of our heart. Where our dedication ends, there our peace ends. God help us to make our hearts “single.”