When Achan (Joshua 7) was caught having stolen the things in Ai that were to be dedicated to God, he explains the progression of his fall into sin:
“…I saw among the spoil a beautiful cloak from Shinar [Babylon], and 200 shekels of silver, and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels, then I coveted them and took them (7:21).
He explains the process as: I saw, I coveted and I took. Before we cast stones of accusation at Achan, we need to know that the silver he saw, just lying unattended on enemy ground, would be worth around $2,200 today and the gold would be worth $43,000. So, that’s why when he saw it, he coveted it. Who wouldn’t? But then he took it and he crossed a one-way bridge. He didn’t just steal from some random foreigner; he stole from God who had specifically said of the conquered cities in Canaan; “don’t take the silver and gold” (Deut. 7:25).
As I pointed out Sunday, Achan took the same path to sin that many others have taken. It was the same path that Eve had taken; she saw the fruit was good for food, she desired it because it made one wise, and took it (and gave it to her husband). David saw Bathsheba bathing, desired her, and took her (and killed her husband). We all have seen, coveted and taken something we should not have taken. Now, remember, temptation in itself is not sin. Jesus was tempted as we are, yet remained sinless (Heb. 4:15). I wonder if part of his strategy to resist temptation was in his control of what he allowed his eyes to see and what his heart desired. Jesus, speaking of his father, said “I always do the things that are pleasing to Him” (John 8:29). Jesus desired to please His Father. Do we?
When Job was accused of lusting after another woman he responded “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin? (Job 31:1). Hmm, he made a covenant with his eyes. Who does that? He was intentional about what he allowed his eyes to see and what he didn’t allow his eyes to see. I bet that also impacted his desires. What’s your game plan for what your eyes see? What’s your game plan for where you go and where you don’t go? And, don’t call me legalistic just because I have a plan to avoid temptation. Never confuse disciple with legalism.
Our desires are determinative, they are informed by what we gaze at and they shape our use of time, money and energy. In many ways our desires explain who we are.
What do I look at?
What do I want?
Do the use of my eyes and the desires of my heart lead me to life and a deeper love of Jesus?