“Keep your eyes up.”
“Keep your eyes on the prize.”
We are far too familiar with the phrases and clichés pointing out that our mindset and what we keep our eyes on will often dictate the direction of our sports career. Coaches and teammates constantly remind us that staying focused is critical to the team's success or our own success.
What's more, we know how it feels when all of our attention is on one goal or one competition and every area of our life is neatly organized for success in that specific competition. I can remember two competitions where this was exactly the case– where everything from what time I went to bed at night, to what time I trained, to what I ate and how hydrated I was, everything was purposely designed for success in that competition.
We can also feel when the opposite is the case. We can feel when we're doing everything we can to get our lives in line and to keep our eyes focused on a specific goal, and instead it just seems like we're fighting a losing battle. This is not new information to anyone who's been around sports and athletics for any amount of time. The more focused we are on the development of our athletic career and the more we keep our eyes pinned on that goal, the higher rate of success we have. When we give an athletic goal our undivided attention, we see the greatest results.
This same truth runs rapidly through the Bible. Proverbs 4:25–26 says, “Let your eyes look directly forward and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet then all your ways will be sure.”
Philippians 3:17 says, “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.”
Hebrews 12:1–2 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
These verses remind us that the success and growth of our holiness in our faith is determined by our eyes and heart. Have we set our gaze upon the Lord? Are we looking to Jesus as the founder and perfector of our faith? Does Christ have our undivided attention and affection? Just as we talked about in our sports lives, when a specific competition has our attention and our eyes and desires are set up on it, our lives begin to revolve around it. We won't do anything that could mess up our goal that we have set our eyes upon. Everything we put in our body everything we do with our time all must line up with that goal. The Bible calls us to examine our hearts and see if we have made Christ that goal. Have we set our eyes on him in such a way that every decision we make serves to exalt Christ?
What's more, we know when we have taken our eyes off of Christ and put them on other things. We can feel the drift in our heart as we spend less and less time in God's Word, or in prayer, or thinking about the things of God and spend more time with our eyes and attention on the world. This is why John, in 1 John 2:15 says, “Do not love the world or the things of the world, for if anyone loves the world the love of the Father is not in him.” John is reminding us that if our affections and our attention have turned from God to other things, then God will get less and less of our lives and be pushed more and more to the wayside.
Greatness is achieved when a goal or a team gets the focus of our heart. We can point to story after story and athlete after athlete who have chased a goal and arranged their lives in such a way to make that goal a high priority, and have then achieved great things because of that. They should be admired for their discipline and their perseverance, but I long to see a world full of athletes who give the same attention, desire, perseverance and affection to Christ.
What would that look like if we made Christ so important that our lives revolved around Him and not other things? What if we set our eyes on Him and He became the center of our affection? How different would your life look if you truly put your eyes on Christ as primary? What would get pushed down the priority list, and how would Christ be more exalted through your life?
When something has our full attention and the affection of our eyes, we orient ourselves around it. Have you done that with Christ?