What have you been seeing recently? Perhaps you’re inclined to answer along the lines of:
- “I haven’t been seeing anybody other than my spouse and kids! I’ve been holed up in my house!
- “All I’m seeing is news and talk about the what’s going on in this hard cultural season.”
- “I have been seeing people, but they’re all the people in my favorite shows or movies, because I’ve been watching a lot more television recently.”
There’s something more that’s available to us as Christians. It’s seeing spiritually. This is what Jesus points out in Mark 8:18: “Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear?” There’s two things that you and I should be able to say we “see”—even when we don’t get to go out and see others:
1. I See Myself
When we’re cooped up, we can spend twenty-four hours a day with ourselves without really “seeing” ourselves. What do I mean? Proverbs 4:23 says: “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life” (NASB).
In Watchfulness: Recovering a Lost Spiritual Discipline, pastor Brian Hedges expands on what it means for us to be watchful over our hearts. We can easily neglect Jesus’ command: “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation” (Matt. 26:41).
Do You Know Your Temptations?
- How are you doing with temptation?
- Are you irritated by your spouse?
- Are you getting angry with your kids?
- Are you looking too long or too secretly at tempting images?
- Are you eating whatever and whenever you want?
- Are you offering your less-than-best effort at work?
We are super susceptible to temptation right now! Let’s watch and pray! How do we watch over our hearts? By being awake and attentive to them and their danger. Today is a dangerous day. John Calvin once wrote,
“There remains in a regenerate man a smoldering cinder of evil, from which desires continually leap forth to allure and spur him to commit sin.”1
Just like camping around a doused bonfire, we have a cinder that can burst into flame at any point! We can’t fall asleep!
What tempts you may not be the exact same thing that tempts me. We need to see our own sin sensitivities. Seventeenth century theologian John Owen wrote this:
“Let him that would not enter into temptation labour to know his own heart, … that, finding where his weakness lies, he may be careful to keep at a distance from all occasions of sin.”
Do we know our temptations? What have you seen as your biggest temptations during this home-bound isolation time? Be specific! What are the triggers that pull you more quickly toward sin than other things?
- Maybe it’s the remote
- Maybe it’s typing in a certain website or opening a certain app
- Maybe it’s wanting to raising your voice to gain control
When we know our temptations we can name them, bring them to God, and then “keep at a distance from all occasions of sin.”
What to Do When You See Yourself
Let me encourage you to do a couple things to really see yourself:
- Confess your sins daily. If this isn’t already a part of your practice in your daily time with the Lord, add it. One marker of Christian maturity is that we have higher sensitivities and awareness of sin in your life. And we have godly grief over it and want to bring it to Jesus to wash it away.
- Talk with others about your struggles. You can talk about your struggles with your Small Group. Or you can ask one or two men or women to connect every week or two to talk about your spiritual lives and pray for each other. If you’re a guy, you can sign up for a Virtual Purity Group—growing in restored purity with a few other guys.
At College Park Church, our Church Covenant says that we “watch over one another in brotherly love.” See yourself. And get others to help see yourself too. Isolation can provide a better time than any for us to really see ourselves.
2. I See Jesus
If we only see ourselves we’ll shrivel up. We also need to see Jesus. Scottish pastor Robert Murray M’Cheyne famously said:
“Do not take up your time so much with studying your own heart as with studying Christ’s heart. ‘For one look at yourself, take ten looks at Christ!’”
Let’s take a moment right now to look at Christ.
Seeing Jesus in 3 Psalms
There are three psalms in a row that each point out a different job of Jesus:
Psalm 23 says that Jesus is our Shepherd:
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;”
You may need Jesus to restore your soul. He is your shepherd who provides for you in the midst of the hubbub of life. If you are looking around at the health concerns of the world right now or are a medical professional, you may be in the middle of the “valley of the shadow of death” where Jesus still promises to be with you and to see you through to where he wants you.
Psalm 24 says that Jesus is the King of Glory:
“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, …
Lift up your heads, O gates!
And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord, strong and mighty,
the Lord, mighty in battle!”
The gatekeepers of Heaven know their King. Jesus is going to be the reigning King over his Kingdom forever: starting now until he makes it perfect on a renewed earth and heaven. We need to see Jesus as the one great King of glory.
Psalm 25 says that Jesus is our Teacher:
“Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all the day long.”
Just like your kids don’t know what they’re going to be learning before the lesson starts—so we don’t know what God’s going to teach us each day. But Jesus is our faithful teacher who leads us by the Spirit. And those who cry out for wisdom, receive it.
Even today, we can take the chance to tell our spouses or kids what we’re seeing today: not another episode or a neighbor, but our heart and our Savior. Let’s use this season to see ourselves and see Jesus better.