The Importance of Being Single-Minded

One day when I was a kid, I tried to do a flip off a diving board. When I realized that I was not going to make it all the way around, rather than landing in the water flat on my back, I doubled up, assuming that was a less painful option. Somehow, I landed so that my knee jammed into my eye, resulting in my having double vision for about a day.

That can be more debilitating than one might think. It is difficult to read seeing two of every word, and especially when the lines cross one another. Imagine trying to hit a baseball with two of them coming at you. A man trying to kiss his wife could end up kissing her nose. Don’t even think about driving.

The Bible speaks of the difficulty of this condition and Matthew 6:22-23.

The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! (KJV)

I quote the King James on this verse because it is the only translation I know of the got it right. The Greek word literally means not braided. A braid consists of several strands woven together. “Not braided” conveys the idea of a single strand. So the application to the eye is referring to single versus double vision.

This meaning is confirmed in the next verse in which Jesus states, “”No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. Matthew 6:24 ESV

Here Jesus describes a man with double vision, keeping one eye on God and the other eye on money. The word for money is actually an Aramaic word that does not just refer to money but to any type of material possession.

However, the scriptural idea seems to be broader than that, the concept of possessions applying to every earthly entity placed on the same level with God in our priorities. It might be power, prestige, food, sexual gratification, entertainment, or other items on Satan’s menu of enticements.

Whatever it is, if a person allows anything to compete with his commitment to Christ, he will find himself in the same position that I did after my diving mishap—being virtually worthless in terms of productivity for the Lord, instead living a confused existence, trying to function in two different worlds at the same time, unable to identify and connect with reality.

James warns that the double minded man is unstable in all his ways. It is easy to understand why. One day he gives priority to God and the next to entertainment. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with wholesome entertainment. In fact, we need that. The issue is whether our commitment to God governs all priorities, including entertainment, or whether sometimes we subordinate God’s claims on our life to entertainment or money or sexual gratification or prestige or any of the other items on the list above.

Imagine a company with two different bosses that each has a different objective. It would soon go bankrupt, it would be like two horses each pulling the wagon in the opposite direction. This would create a whole lot of tension and virtually no progress.

One wonders whether this is why the church of Laodicea is neither hot nor cold. It has a desire to serve the Lord that is placed in tension with a desire for earthly concerns. The result is lukewarm scrambled eggs and lukewarm ice cream.

This leaves us with the question of whether we have subordinated everything in our lives to Christ, or whether we have placed some component of our life on the same level of priority with Him. We may feel somewhat confident because a substantial part of our lives is committed to spiritual endeavors. After all, we are only committed to two endeavors and the Lord is one of them, so that’s pretty good, isn’t it? You just need to have double vision for a day like I did and you will discover the answer.

One comment on “The Importance of Being Single-Minded
  1. Cynthia Proch says:

    Hello Paul Brownback, that was a very good object lesson. Does it not just amaze you how often we well informed, well taught believers stumble around with double vision.

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