“The eye is the lamp of the body.”
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”
Scripture is clear: The central discipline for spiritual transformation is renewing the mind. A transformed life requires a transformed mind. It is essential, therefore, to understand and manage the process of the mind. Where the mind goes, the man goes.
The Fall distorted the mental process. As a result of the corrupting influence of the sin nature, we often focus on the wrong things; we talk to ourself in disruptive ways and listen to the wrong voices, which creates and feeds disruptive emotion, which in turn motivates and energizes ineffective action.
The good news, of course, is that Jesus redeems the mental process. Under the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, the Lord prompts us to focus on the situations of life from a kingdom perspective, listen to the truth of God's word, and respond with discipline-driven behavior.
In order to be discipline-driven in the way we act, we must first be discipline-driven in the way we think. This is the heart of what scripture means by wisdom. It is God’s wisdom that clarifies our thinking, calms our emotions, and enables us to live and work with focus and effectiveness … all empowered by the Holy Spirit.
The spiritually wise person recognizes when his focus drifts toward the wrong thing, and he has the discipline to redirect his attention back to what really matters. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus spoke powerfully about the importance of this discipline:
“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!" (Matthew 6.22-23)
"The eye is the lamp of the body" refers to the way you see things. "Light" is clarity of vision that produces wise decisions, and "darkness" is distortion of vision that produces unwise decisions. In this passage Jesus is teaching us that the way we look at people and situations is enormously important.
We could paraphrase it this way: “The eye is the lens you use for the way you live your life.” You see life through a lens, and sometimes that lens helps you see clearly and accurately, and sometimes the lens distorts things.
If your eye is healthy (clear vision), then your life is full of light and you see with clarity. This allows you to deal with people and situations according to what is actually happening. But if your eye is bad (impaired vision), then your life is full of darkness. This will lead you to react to people and situations based on a distorted perspective.
“Framing” is the term that cognitive psychologists use for the lens through which people see things. The key message is that you choose the frames through which you see the situations you encounter in life. And how you frame a situation shapes how you will respond to it.
A negative frame produces a negative mindset which produces a negative response. A positive frame produces a productive frame which produces a productive response.
So choose your frames wisely. The big message in the book of Proverbs is this: At the heart of every frame through which you view the situations of life should be the fear of the Lord. As Proverbs 9.10 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”
Or again, in the words of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount, “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.”
God’s standards are the reference point through which you must see and “frame” the situations of your life.
Reflect back on some of the bad decisions you have made. Didn't those bad decisions start with a flawed perspective or a distorted frame? Wasn't the initial source of your bad decision that you focused on the wrong thing, or you didn’t see the right thing clearly?
Clarity of focus is a critical step in the mindset process, and you must get it right. Just because something gets your attention doesn't mean it deserves your attention. Find and focus on what matters. This is wisdom in action.
Trust God and do the inner work.