The Critical Difference Between Seeing and Looking ~ blog
Jesus was walking through the Sheep Gate into Jerusalem and passes by the pool known as Bethesda. All around the pool are people who are blind, lame, and paralyzed. The thought was that whoever was the first to get into the water when it was being stirred would be healed. The passage in John 5 tells us that there were a great number of disabled people waiting for that moment.
Now Jesus sees everyone in the large crowd waiting for the waters to stir but then He singles out one man who was an invalid. Jesus learns that he had been an invalid for 38 years and asks him a simple question;
“Do you want to get well?”
His answer implies; “Well, of course, I want to get well, why would you ask me such a dumb question?” And then he gives the excuse that there was nobody to help him beat the rush when the waters stirred so there he sat … on his mat … for 38 years.
Jesus simply says to him; “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk!” And we are told that immediately he was healed, gets up, picks up his mat and walks away.
I wonder why Jesus picked this man out of the crowd to focus on. Certainly, Jesus saw all of the people at the pool, but he looked at this one man and for some reason decided to heal him. What was it that caught His eye so that he noticed him and chose him over all the others who were there?
I think there is a difference between seeing and looking and it is something that we, in our sexual brokenness do all the time. Yesterday, I went to church and saw hundreds of people who were in my field of vision. However, I only looked at a certain number of them. Those people I knew or have had interactions with … or any woman that I found particularly attractive. Admit it … you did the same.
At what point does looking at someone become a sin? To a degree, we cannot help what we see when we are out in public or watching television. However, we choose what we look at and that is where the problems begin. Especially when in Matthew 5 Jesus says;
“I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully
has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Now that is probably the least favorite verse in the Bible for men. Jesus is setting a very high standard but make no mistake about it … He means what He says.
I can remember when I was in college, some 48 years ago walking across campus and I caught myself looking at the chest of every girl that passed me by. Why is it that we are all so visually oriented and when we see someone we find sexually attractive it seems like we cannot help but look and lust?
This week I am going to focus on this whole topic of why we are so visually oriented and how that is something we need to deal with and how to control our thoughts. Listen, this is serious stuff and directly connected to our sexual brokenness. When we can begin to control our thoughts and to no longer look at people as sex objects for us to use, we will grow in our recovery.
Just to remind you of how important it is to do this remember what Jesus said right after the warning to not look and lust …
“If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”
And remember Jesus is saying we should do that if we even just have a THOUGHT of lust. Now obviously Jesus is using hyperbole in this verse. However, we cannot just ignore this warning because Jesus is making a point here.
His point is that looking at another person and lusting after them is not only wrong but can have terrible consequences. Sure, a lustful look seems rather insignificant compared to what we can see in advertisements today. And advertisements today are very mild compared to what we see on TV and social media today. And TV and social media is nothing compared to what we can find on so many websites. And so many websites are nothing compared to what we can look at on porn sites.
The real problem is if you are not dealing with the issue of looking and lusting out in public you have probably already followed the progression to porn sites. But it doesn’t stop there. Eventually, you will want to live out your fantasies with a real person. Which may well lead to massage parlors, strip clubs, lap dances and eventually prostitutes and affairs.
Tomorrow we will learn more about what we need to do to stop this progression and what steps should we take to learn how to control our thoughts so that there will not even be a hint of sexual immorality in our lives. Sounds impossible, doesn’t it? But it is not because with God all things are possible.