“The lamp of the body is the eye,” said Jesus. He added: “If, then, your eye is simple, your whole body will be bright.” (Matthew 6:22) The eye that is simple is focused on a single goal, or purpose, not being distracted or sidetracked from it. Indeed, our eye should be focused on “seeking first the kingdom and [God’s] righteousness.” (Matthew 6:33) What can happen to our figurative heart if our eye is not kept simple?
Consider the matter of earning a living. Providing for the needs of our family is a Christian requirement. (1 Timothy 5:8) But what if we are tempted by a desire to have the latest, the best, and the most sought after in the way of food, clothing, shelter, and other things? Could that not really enslave the heart and the mind, making us halfhearted in our worship? (Psalm 119:113; Romans 16:18) Why should we become so absorbed in caring for physical needs that our life revolves solely around family, business, and material things? Remember the inspired advice: “Pay attention to yourselves that your hearts never become weighed down with overeating and heavy drinking and anxieties of life, and suddenly that day be instantly upon you as a snare. For it will come in upon all those dwelling upon the face of all the earth.”—Luke 21:34, 35.
The eye is an important channel of communication to the mind and the heart. What it focuses on can strongly influence our thoughts, emotions, and actions. Using illustrative language, Jesus referred to the power of visual temptation and said: “If, now, that right eye of yours is making you stumble, tear it out and throw it away from you. For it is more beneficial to you for one of your members to be lost to you than for your whole body to be pitched into Gehenna.” (Matthew 5:29) The eye must be restrained from concentrating on improper sights. For example, it must not be allowed to dwell on material that is designed to excite or arouse illicit passions and desires.
Sight, of course, is not our only sense of communication with the outside world. Other senses, such as touching and hearing, play their part, and we need to take precautionary measures with the corresponding body members as well. The apostle Paul admonished: “Deaden, therefore, your body members that are upon the earth as respects fornication, uncleanness, sexual appetite, hurtful desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”—Colossians 3:5.
An improper desire can originate in the recesses of our mind. Dwelling upon such usually intensifies the wrong desire, influencing the heart. “Then the desire, when it has become fertile, gives birth to sin.” (James 1:14, 15) Many admit that this is the way that self-abuse often takes place. How important that we keep filling our mind with spiritual concerns! (Philippians 4:8) And if an improper thought does come to the mind, we should strive to dismiss it.