“Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee” (Prov. 4:25, KJV).
When Peter was walking on the water and looking at Jesus, he did very well. But once he took his eyes off Christ, he began to sink. When he focused on the boisterous waves instead of his Savior, trouble began. He cried, “Lord, save me!” It is said to be the shortest prayer in the Bible, but it was long enough. Jesus heard him and immediately stretched forth His hand and lifted His sinking disciple. What a loving Savior!
Why didn’t Peter keep his eyes on Jesus? Sometimes I have wondered if he got such a thrill while actually walking on the sea that he allowed a bit of pride to enter his heart. Did he say to himself, “I wonder what the other disciples think about this?” Did he turn and look at them and start to say, “Look at me, fellows!”
Of course, once he took his eyes off Jesus, there was time for nothing but fear. When he saw those waves, fear gripped his heart and his faith failed. He went down crying, “Lord, save me!”
What a lesson for everyone, young and old. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Don’t let anything else capture your attention. Remember, there is a battle going on. How do you spend most of your time? Whatever gets your attention gets you!
“Satan invents unnumbered schemes to occupy our minds, that they may not dwell upon the very work with which we ought to be best acquainted. . . . He knows that with him everything depends on his diverting minds from Jesus and His truth” (The Great Controversy, p. 488).
How many times have we allowed pride, envy, jealousy, selfish ambitions, etc., to fill our minds so that our eyes are not focused on Jesus? How many times have we began sinking like Peter did? If we do not cry out, “Lord, save me!” then these habits become part of us, and the devil will conquer us. We need to keep busy with God’s business. At 12 years of age, Jesus already realized the work He would do for His Father. He kept busy with His Father’s business all His life. How about you and me? Don’t you want to keep busy with God’s work? I do.
“Judicious labor is a healthful tonic for the human race. It makes the feeble strong, the poor rich, the wretched happy. Satan lies in ambush, ready to destroy those whose leisure gives him opportunity to approach them under attractive disguise. He is never more successful than when he comes to men in their idle hours” (Messages to Young People, p. 215).
Let us look at King David. He remained behind when everyone else was going to an important war. The Bible does not tell us the reason why; it only says he remained behind. I think it must have been deliberate; perhaps he just wanted to rest and do his business instead of God’s. He took his eyes off Jesus, and lo and behold, he saw Bathsheba, wife of Uriah. He committed sin with her. The devil uses every device he has to trap us. I like to think that since King David had many wives who were even more beautiful than Bathsheba, the devil disguised himself and made Bathsheba look more attractive to the King than she really was.
How often do we find ourselves trapped in situations which may embarrass us afterwards? When one commits a sin the first time, it doesn’t end there. King David found himself using different tactics to cover up his sin. When all his tactics failed, he plotted to kill Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba. And sure enough, Uriah was killed. King David was so intent on fulfilling his selfish desires that he put someone else’s life in danger.
It is interesting to note that when the prophet Nathan was sent by God to rebuke David, David did not see himself in the same light. He did not believe he was as bad as the prophet described. As humans, it is our nature to think we are not as bad as the next person. We tend to point fingers at others while making excuses for ourselves. When we keep our eyes on Jesus, we see ourselves as we really are. We recognize our sinfulness. When King David realized his mistake and looked again at Jesus, he asked for forgiveness and was forgiven. He became one of God’s friends not because he was blameless, but because he repented wholeheartedly.
When we look at Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, we get a clear picture of perfection, love, and mercy. Though we may fall many times, we need to lift our heads and once again look to Jesus. We need to walk boldly as Peter did. Paul, who once persecuted Christians, looked at Jesus and became a different person. Once you focus your eyes on Jesus, you will not remain the same; you will become a new creature in Him.
“Boisterous waves” are all around us. As long as we turn our eyes from Jesus, we will see them. They come in many forms: love of money, unfaithfulness in all its forms, busy schedules with no time for spiritual enrichment. Jesus is willing and desirous of bestowing His blessing on us. We only have to focus our minds and characters on Him. Until He returns, our goal should be to keep our eyes on Jesus.