Turn Away My Eyes
“Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things” (Ps 119:37, NKJV)
With videos replacing, photographs, emoji’s replacing words and our society becoming more and more image based, our eyes have never had more time to look at things. All around us people are addicted and distracted to death, constantly glued to small black boxes with HD pixels. What’s everyone looking at? Says the Psalmist - worthless things.
Yes, we can become precious about our Instagram feeds, games, YouTube Channels and even business emails, but most of what takes up people’s time on their phone is exactly what the Psalmist describes here - worthless. Let’s call a spade a spade, we’re wasting time looking at vanity.
Surely there’s more to life than endless distraction by mass media?
It is here that the Psalmist provides a timely prayer, that we would do well to consider: “turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things”.
It seems fixation with vanity is no new phenomena. The antidote to such trifling distractions is not just will power or physical barriers but help from heaven. Since we’re swamped in a sea of distraction, with pixels vying for our attention every moment of the day, we all need the help of the Lord.
Prayer involves closing one’s eyes and shutting out all that the material world - phone included. Prayer diverts our eyes from the physical realm into the spiritual and our minds from vanity to things of real value. If incessant distraction characterises your day, how about staring today with prayer? Before consulting WhatsApp or any other media, how about seeking the Lord?
What about the rest of the day? How do we cope when our hand is itching to reach for the phone and we need a dopamine fix from our latest post or notification? The answer comes from ancient Israel of all places! The Lord said to his people to:
“make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a blue thread in the tassels of the corners. And you shall have the tassel, that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of the LORD and do them, and that you may not follow the harlotry to which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined, and that you may remember and do all My commandments, and be holy for your God” (Num 15:38-40).
As they went about their day and looked at the blue tassel on their clothing, it was a visible reminder that they were the people of God and his word was to be obeyed. This visible sign was to direct their minds to God and his word.
The New Testament parallel is not to look at a blue band, but a risen Christ in glory. Says Paul; “if ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col 3:1-2). We need to look away from that which distracts, but we also need to look to a positive reality. As we look at that which is eternal and of real value our thoughts and affections are changed. Fixing our minds on the Lord Jesus and his word is a wonderful antidote to vain distractions.
Society round about us has lost every sense of the eternal and spiritual, instead, being taken up with what is carnal and earthly. The thinking of the world can quickly affect the people of God. We, who are sat with Christ in heavenly places and enjoy every sprinting blessing can be reduced to looking at carnal trivialities. Let’s emulate the apostle of old, who said “we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor 4:18).
Some may need a smart phone detox, other may need to down grade to a not so smart phone. I’m not advocating technological monasticism (it’s a most useful implement) but if technology is having the mastery over us, then physical barriers are necessary. “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any” (1 Cor 6:12). Whilst these physical measures have their place, let us realise with the Psalmist of old that this is a spiritual problem and we are in need of spiritual help. May we seek the Lord, shun vanity and fix our eyes on eternal realities. Let’s fill our minds with the word of God and become addicted to the God of the word; let’s aspire to be like the Psalmist who said; “O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day”(Ps 119:97).