The Lust of The Eyes

I just had a conversation with a cupcake.

No, I’m not crazy. Ok, maybe a little, but not a lot. Anyway, I had a conversation with a cupcake. Actually, it didn’t say much. It just listened while I talked.

It started like this: I was looking at a lovely picture of a cupcake on a blog I just discovered. Upon seeing this cupcake, I suddenly wanted a cupcake. Very conscious of my efforts to eat healthy, I quickly moved on to another picture. Once I got past the cupcake image, I was able to talk myself out of cupcake mania.

Once I reminded myself of my health goals, I went back to the cupcake image. I boldly told the insanely beautiful cupcake: “I do not want you. I want to look at you, but I do not want to eat you. You are beautiful, and you may even be delicious, but I do not want you.”

The cupcake didn’t respond (it was probably offended). But the conversation left me feeling empowered.

What is it about seeing something that creates desire within us? I hadn’t been thinking of cupcakes at all, but as soon as I saw one, suddenly the desire was there. Seeing it caused me to crave that cupcake.

Advertisers know very well that seeing something can create desire. This is why they spend millions to place images of their products before you. If you see, you want.

But why is this so? Why do we want something just because we see it? 1 John discusses this very thing.

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world–the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions–is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever”

1 John 2:15-17

The lust of the eyes is what caused Eve to eat the fruit of the Tree of The Knowledge of  Good and Evil. It’s how David got caught up with Bathsheba. It’s how Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness. And it’s how advertisers get us to buy their products.

See No Evil

It is imperative that we take measures to guard our eyes. In Psalm 119:37, David asks the Lord to “turn my eyes from looking at worthless things, and give me life in your ways.”

So how can we avoid visual temptation? We can’t avoid it completely, but there are some measures we can take to minimize it. We can turn off the TV, denying advertisers access to our minds. We can avoid avoid unnecessary shopping and online browsing, where will be bombarded with lovely pictures and attractive displays. And we can avoid ice cream parlors, where the slightest glimpse will trigger an intense need to ingest large quantities will all manner of toppings. Or maybe that’s just me.

Of course, we will, at some point, see something that we want. In this situation, take a step back. Remove yourself from the temptation and stop to think. Think about what’s best for you. Think about your values, and whether having that pair of boots or that hot fudge sundae will be consistent with your values. Think about what you really want. Think clearly, and decide to resist. And then move on. You might need to have a conversation with a cupcake. Or a 3D TV. Or a shiny new lipgloss. But you will emerge victorious.

Watch for my next article: The Pride of Possessions


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