Remember all of the advice your mom gave you when you were a kid? Eat your vegetables, don’t sit too close to the television, wash behind your ears, and the classic – make sure you’re wearing clean underwear. Most of the time, she was spot on, but every now and then she would tell you something that just wasn’t true.
Think back to those days when the weather turned cold and rainy. As kids, we would go outside to play, fully equipped with our coats, hats, gloves and scarves. However, it only took a few minutes before we realized that we couldn’t play with all of those layers of clothes. The gloves were the first to go, followed shortly by the scarf. Next we’d start to get a little too warm from running around, so we’d unzip the coat and ditch the hat. Finally, the open coat flapping around would simply be too cumbersome and because we were warm enough, the coat would join our pile of castaway clothing. And while all of this made perfect sense to us, it was only a matter of time before we would hear that familiar voice calling us from the window or the porch.
It would always start out the same: “Where is your coat?” In our ignorance, we assumed the question was asked for informational purposes only, so we point and carry on. This misperception would quickly be corrected with a command and a statement justifying the decision she had made. “Put your coat back on before you catch a cold!” And so we would comply; partly because we just wanted to get back to playing without extending the conversation any longer than it needed to be but partly because we didn’t want to end up sick. Little did we know that we had just been duped.
It seems that mom’s “catch a cold” threat simply isn’t true. Colds are not caught by being out in the cold, or running around without a coat when it is damp. Germs entering into the body are at fault. So why did she tell us something that wasn’t true? It seems that mom may have had ulterior motives when she wanted us to wear those extra layers – like keeping our clothes clean and eliminating the amount of dirt tracked back into the house. Sneaky? Just wait – there’s more! Some mothers went so far as to send their kids into the house if they didn’t wear all of their cold weather gear, surrounding them with germ-laden surfaces like sinks, toilets and doorknobs! It’s downright sinister! But before you contact Child Protective Services, just remember it’s not all bad. And you have to admit that her underwear advice has come in handy a few times over the years.
But let’s get back to catching that cold. Germs can be found all over – and often in unexpected places. In fact, germs can be transmitted from just about any surface we touch. That’s why doctors tell us to wash our hands regularly and to be careful about anything we place into our mouths, noses, and eyes. I realize that this is common knowledge to most people who have taken a high school biology course, or who have watched a daytime talk show, but in spite of our knowledge we still manage to catch colds. And considering our eyes are one of the chief entry points for germs, you’d think we could have seen it coming! (bad pun). But if you stop and think about it, a cold isn’t the only ailment that comes into our lives through our eyes.
Our eyes are the source of many good things. As one of the five senses, vision is clearly important. Vision keeps us safe and provides us with our most basic form of guidance, but there is more to it. Consider the aesthetic value of eyes. People spend millions of dollars each year on fashion eyewear and contact lenses. Women spend hours applying makeup around their eyes to make them more alluring. And most people who have ever been deeply in love will tell you just how easy it is to get lost gazing into a beautiful pair of eyes.
But just as a pair of eyes can be a good thing, they can also get you into trouble. Like germs entering the body through the eyes, other dangers can enter into our systems through the eyes. Ever lose the dieting battle just by seeing a piece of cheesecake? Advertising agencies use beautiful people to market their products, even if the demographics don’t make sense (think about the last time you saw a group of “supermodels” standing around a bar drinking beer). And when it comes to attraction – those beautiful eyes can lead us to places to which we simply have no business going.
Proverbs 6:25 provides a strong warning for men in particular as is says; “Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes.” This isn’t to say that women don’t struggle with this, because they can. Nor does this say women are the cause of it because they are not. It reminds us that because men are more visual, we will burn an image into our minds and dwell upon it, allowing it to change our focus. And sadly, it only takes a slight glance to create a distraction which can lead to a life changing result. In Matthew 6:22-23a Christ clearly instructs us on the value of taking care of our eyesight as He says: “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness.”
Maintain the health of your eyes, both physically and spiritually. Be careful what you fill them with so that in all things you will find peace, joy and blessings. And though it doesn’t come from mom, remember God’s advice as He declares: “My son, give me your heart and let your eyes, delight in my ways” (Proverbs 23:26 NIV).