My eyesight grows worse every year. I’ve heard your vision is meant to plateau by your mid-twenties, but so far my prescription keeps slipping down towards negative double digits.
But as my body weakens, I hope my spiritual sight is growing stronger with every hour invested in Bible reading and prayer. These disciplines enable me to see both God and myself more clearly.
There are several parallels between our physical and spiritual sight.
Poor vision impedes our every day life, making it difficult or impossible to read, drive, or even walk down the street. Spiritual blindness is even more dangerous. The Bible tells us that unbelievers are condemned by their lack of belief in Jesus Christ, and this is because of their blindness to the truth:
“In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:4)
But believers also need to be regularly evaluating their spiritual sight. God has “shone into our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). Even with this indescribable gift, we don’t see Jesus perfectly.
That’s why we keep sinning—to our distorted vision, sin looks like the better option than obedience to our perfect Saviour. We need to see Jesus more clearly to make lasting victory against sin. As one of my favourite hymns goes:
What has stripped the seeming beauty
From the idols of the earth?
Not a sense of right or duty,
But the sight of peerless worth. (Hast thou heard him, seen him, known him)
The test of both our physical and spiritual sight is this: how well do you see things compared to what they really are?
At the optometrist, you read out letters from a chart on the wall. There are right and wrong answers—you either see the right letter, or you don’t. It would be pointless to fork out for an optometry bill to have them do a Rorschach inkblot test. What you think you see doesn’t help in assessing how healthy you are.
Likewise, we need to measure our spiritual sight against the truth. How rightly are you seeing Jesus, yourself, this world, and eternity, compared to the truth we’re given in God’s Word?
Unfortunately, we can’t will our way into better eyesight. It’s not your own effort that improves your vision—the lenses do that. Yet we’re not totally passive either. You still need to pick up your glasses from the nightstand and put them on each day.
It’s the same with our spiritual growth. God himself is the one who enables us to see more clearly, we can’t do this ourselves. But we must make use of the means he’s given us to see him more clearly.
Until Jesus comes back our vision will always be a little warped:
“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)
This is no excuse not to pray and labour for sight now. God is not silent. In his mercy, he reveals himself to us by his Word. Make sure that every day you are taking hold of this avenue of grace. If you were to go blind in this life it would be a hard trial, yet that’s nothing compared to losing sight of your Saviour.
As you soak in the Bible, over the course of months and years your sight will grow clearer. And when God grants us spiritual sight, let us respond in the same way as the blind man healed by Jesus:
“And stopping, Jesus called them and said, “What do you want me to do for you?” They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him.” (Matthew 20:32–34, emphasis mine)