“Eyes that look are common. Eyes that see are rare,” wrote J. Oswald Sanders in is classic book Spiritual Leadership.
Sanders further illustrated his point with this Bible example. “The Pharisees looked at Peter and saw only a poor, unlettered fisherman, totally insignificant, not worthy of a second look. Jesus saw Peter and discovered the prophet and preacher, saint and leader of the unique band of men who turned the world upside down.”
Continuing our theme for the year, “20/20 Vision: Restoring Our Focus,” it is vitally important for us to see, really see, what’s going on around us.
Spiritual awareness involves perception, recognition, and understanding. It requires attention to detail and being alert to the challenges we face. It is mindfulness. Comprehension. And realization.
One of the great challenges to our spiritual vision is dullness. My friend and preaching colleague, Gary Henry, wrote that dullness, “is a malady that affects many of us. I don’t mean that we ourselves are dull but that our attention to life has been dulled.”
Dullness blurs “the eyes of our understanding” and obscures our need for divine enlightenment (Eph 1:18). Dullness was one of the Pharisees’ problems in Jesus’ day. He applied Isaiah’s prophecy to their predicament when he said “seeing you will see and not perceive.” He sadly said, “the hearts of this people have grown dull” (Matt 13:14-15).
We need to be aware of the devil’s devious devices to entrap, ensnare, and entangle us in sin. He is subtle and sinister with his evil intentions to tempt and lead us away from the Lord. Be alert. Be watchful. Keep your eyes open. (1 Pet. 5:8)
Conversely, spiritual awareness not only sees what is wicked, but what is right. Its eyes are open to opportunities to do good. Help others. Share their resources. And bear the burdens of brothers and sisters who are hurting (Gal. 6:1-10).
In order to develop 20/20 spiritual vision and improve our spiritual awareness, several things are necessary.
1. Saturate your mind with Scripture.
The Psalmist prayed, “Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law” (Ps 119:18). When we open our eyes to God’s Word, we see things from a different perceptive. With greater understanding. And deeper insight.
Psalm 103:7 says “(God) made known his ways to Moses and His deeds to the people of Israel. The people saw what God did. But Moses saw why God did it. It’s the difference between knowledge and perception. Filling your heart with His Word will clarify many issues you face in life.
2. Realize God has a purpose for your life.
We are not put on earth to just eat, drink, party and consume resources. We’re here for a reason. Simply put, our ultimate purpose is found in Jesus Christ in order to give God glory (Eph 1:11-14). Paul says, “we are called according to His purpose” (Rom 8:28). When you come to personally know Jesus, you will see things from God’s point of view. It will clarify your vision. Strengthen your character. Fortify your determination. And give you a clear vision of your purpose in life.
3. Slow down. Look around. And meditate.
John Maxwell calls this “the precious pause.” Our fast-paced culture with its 24-hour news cycle, instant information on our iPhones, and incessant urge to always be doing something, often leaves us weary, washed-out and short-sighted. Take time to relax. To think. To pray. To meditate. And to really see what is happening in the lives of those we love.
4. Look beyond the earthly.
Spiritual awareness of necessity must look beyond the pains, problems and even the prosperity of this life. Moses, the great leader of Israel, gave up pleasure and endured Pharaoh’s reproach to enjoy “greater riches than the treasures of Egypt.” “He was looking to the reward.” And he “endured seeing Him who is invisible.” (Heb 11:24-27)
Believe this. And trust me. “There’s more to life than meets the eye.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman