The Lust of the Eyes
"But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart."
In Jesus' day, it was tempting for people to excuse their sin by focusing only on their actions. But Jesus, without minimizing the wrongness of external deeds, highlights the importance of the heart. It isn't wrong just to commit actual adultery, but also to look upon someone lustfully. The original language reads: to look upon a woman "in order to desire her."
In our sexually overcharged world, we're all bombarded with images that seek to inflame our desire. Men aren't the only ones caught in the trap of lust. Recent surveys have discovered that increasing numbers of women are struggling with addiction to online pornography. Lust invades the workplace, friendships, even families.
How can we hope to look upon attractive people without lust, given the culture in which we live? Jesus encourages us to pay attention to our hearts, to be honest about our inner desires. In his hyperbolic style, he urges us to "cut off" from our lives that which leads us into impurity.
We're not in this battle alone. God has given us his Word to guide us, his Spirit to motivate us, and his people to support us. With the Lord's help, we can stand against the lustful tide of our world.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Do you struggle with looking at people with lust? What might you "cut off" from your life in order to look with greater purity? Have you asked the Lord to help you? Have you confided in a mature Christian who can pray for you and hold you accountable?
PRAYER: Dear Lord, you know our hearts. Nothing about us is hidden from you, including our sexual temptations, our lusts and desires. You know how hard it can be for us to look upon certain people without lust. And our world urges us to give in to our impure desires, even to celebrate them.
Forgive us, Lord, for the times we look upon others "in order to desire them." Create in us clean hearts, so that we might yearn for you and your holiness above all. By your Word, Spirit, and people, help us to stand against the tide of our sexually distorted culture. May we look upon people, even physically attractive people, with your eyes, with eyes of love, respect, and compassion.
Help us especially, Lord, in the places where we are tempted to enjoy the lust of the eyes. Help us at work, or in our daydreams, or when we're watching TV, or when we're surfing the 'Net. Give us the will to avoid that which would lead us into sin. May our hearts belong fully to you. Amen.