Lately, I’ve been blessed in the remembrance of this old refrain:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
In addition to “the things of earth”, however, I might like to add “the things of self”: the things of self will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace. I add these words because of the devastating effects that can result from fixing your attention and concentration on yourself. We become angry, depressed, anxious, and jealous because we spend so much time and energy thinking about how all of life connects back to what we want – our desires, dreams, and ambitions. When our circumstances seem to be falling in line with those desires, dreams and ambitions, then we’re happy and calm, but when our circumstances don’t fall in line, then we very easily become upset and stressed.
It is true, we must look within ourselves if we’re going to be faithful to the Lord in this life (i.e. – identifying sinful motives, detecting the lies you believe in your heart, etc.), but so often the problem is that we remain looking within when we should be looking outside of ourselves to Christ. As we’re looking within to evaluate our hearts, if we’re not careful, we can get stuck inside ourselves as we ruminate on missed opportunities, failures, and what we perceive will be a future of the same. Before we know it, we’ve tanked hard and the after-effects of a downward spiral leave us gazing inward more than ever as self-pity begins to feel like home.
Does this sound familiar to you? It does to me, which is why I find so much encouragement in the refrain above. Turn your eyes upon Jesus reminds me of 2 Corinthians 3:18: And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. As it has been said, we become what we behold, so as we behold self, we can only hope to become increasingly more selfish and self-centered. But in beholding Jesus we can hope to become increasingly more like him as the things of self grow strangely dim.
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