“The lamp of the body is the eye, if therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” Matthew 6:22,23

I’m a little wary of listening to people who talk as if the devil is a silly buffoon. He is an ancient and scary monster who is no one to be trifled with. And he is the most subtle of opponents, always coming at you sideways. Out of view. Always trying to flank. Always using trickery and slight of hand. Always deceiving. Always.

He is in fact defeated. Like Polonius in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, in an honest moment Satan might say, “Oh, I am slain!” Perhaps he said it at Calvary, when he understood too late the plan of God. Certainly he said it when Jesus showed up at the door to his lair, keys in hand.

But for the moment, though down, he is not out.

I’m concerned Satan is trying to neutralize great truths by pulling our focus from where it should be. Subtly. Insidiously.

If you go through the gospels with an eye toward focus, you can find Jesus talking a great deal more about it than just the verses from Matthew above.

Take sowing and reaping, seed time and harvest. It’s true we reap what we sow. The Bible unequivocally states it (2 Corinthians 9:6). The world around us shows it, literally in farming and figuratively in philosophy. Some call it Comeuppance. Some call it Karma. But everybody believes it.

Some Christians, quite a few of us, focus great effort on sowing in order to reap a harvest, and Jesus had something very specific to say about that (Luke 6:35). I heard a minister say it plainly, “Maybe your faith has been focused on your own needs”. And he was compelled to quickly add, “…not that there’s anything wrong with that.” Really? Is there not?

At what point will we be sufficiently prepared, positioned, equipped, prayed-up or prosperous to focus our faith outwardly rather than inwardly? I would say probably never. It seems innocent enough, for sure, to better ourselves, to actualize our potential and be all that God has made us to be. We have been born (again) with great expectations. But the definition of insidious is operating or proceeding in an inconspicuous or seemly harmless way but actually with grave effect. The grave effect is that we never shift our consciousness or our conscience away from our own lives.

There’s a church in Albuquerque, and I used to visit their services when I was working there. I don’t remember the church’s name or the pastor’s, but I do remember this: He brought a message one night that deepened my understanding of faith. He testified that he was working full time but he felt called to ministry, to pastoral ministry. So he began to reach out to people by faith the way a minister would. To pray with them. To testify to them about Jesus. The Lord prospered his efforts and by the time I visited their little fellowship they were growing and giving.

Faith acts…outwardly.

When it’s working, it looks like love.

“For [if we are] in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith activated and energized and expressed and working through love.” Galatians 5:6 (Amplified)

© Melissa Kay Simonds

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