“…I saw among the spoils an attractive mantle from Shinar and two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels….”
Joshua 7: 21
“Trap #1: I Saw”
“False values begin with the worship of things.”
What “things” in my life are there that I “see” and they draw me away from God?
“Life is one long struggle to disinter oneself, to keep one’s head above the accumulations, the ever-deepening layers of objects…which attempt to cove one over, steadily, almost irresistibly, like falling snow.”
“The woman saw that the tree was good, suitable and pleasant for food and that it was delightful to look at….”
Genesis 3: 6
The trap was set in Eden’s perfect garden. A trap conceived by a wily serpent whose desire was to drag down God’s perfect couple, Adam and Eve, with the promise of god-like wisdom.
If you were going to try to lure someone into your trap, what would you use? Something unappealing or repulsive? I doubt it, for we humans were created to, not only enjoy beauty, but to be drawn to it. Even mesmerized by it.
So the deceptive serpent began his quest to up-end the garden home by holding out the allurement of something that Eve could see.
And thus, a cycle began that we have seen repeated generation after generation.
Eve saw a serpent with the offer of delicious fruit. David saw a seductive woman, Bathsheba. And Achan, we are told in Joshua 7:21, saw an attractive garment and silver and gold. Without thinking about the consequence of his behavior, Achan decided what he saw was so compelling, he had to make it his own. Carrie Jacob-Bonds notes that, “No one has a right to hoard things which (she) cannot use.” In the case of Achan, after hearing God’s directive that everything in Jericho was accursed, he decided he had to have what God had warned was not his.
And it all began with “seeing.” It started with not only where, but on what Achan laid his eyes. In the book Weaver of Dreams, author Myrtle Reed shares this perspective: “The things that are ours cannot be given away, or taken away, or lost. We break our hearts, all of us, trying to keep things that do not belong to us – and to which we have no right.” After reading these profound words, you’d believe she had stood in Jericho’s burned up rubble, watching Achan as he salivated over a garment and some gold and silver, musing upon the thought that it was his for the taking.
If we travel back to the beginning of history, to the Garden of Eden, again we find that it was what Eve “saw” which lured her into the serpent’s net of deception. She let her eyes fool her into believing what she saw was “good.” It was something that could benefit her life. It was something that would make her happy.
The syndicated advice columnist Ann Landers, known for her witty and wise observations, made this comment about possessions: “The best things in life aren’t things.”
Too bad that when Eve “saw” a piece of fruit being used to entice her, she didn’t run in the opposite direction as fast as she could. The same goes for Achan. What his eyes saw served as a catalyst which drew him into a trap of death.
John Bosco warned that we should, “Guard (our) eyes, since they are the windows through which sin enters into the soul.”
What a lesson we can learn from Trap #1 – Watch where you keep your eyes. Be careful what you think you see, for all that glitters isn’t really gold. And possibly, as in the case of Achan, it may be fools gold.
In 1918, Helen Lemmel was visiting a friend and was given a gospel tract entitled, “Focused.” In this pamphlet, she read these words, “So turn your eyes upon Him,” and from this phrase she wrote the beautiful hymn, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”
May we, each day, follow the words of the Apostle Paul to the Hebrews and, “Fix our eyes on Jesus.” (Hebrews 12: 2)
“When our gaze has wandered even a little from Christ let us immediately turn the eyes of our heart back to Him and let our vision be directed to Him as though along the straightest line.”
“O thou great Chief, light a candle in my heart, that I may see what is therein and sweep the rubbish from thy dwelling place.”
An African schoolgirls’ prayer
“Dear Jesus, help us to spread your fragrance everywhere we go.
Flood our souls with your spirit and life.
Penetrate and possess our whole being so utterly that our lives may only be a radiance of yours.
Shine through us and be so in us that every soul we come in contact with may feel your presence in our soul.
Let them look up and see no longer us but only Jesus! Stay with us and then we shall begin to shine as you shine; so to share as to be a light to others; the light, O Jesus, will be all from you, none of it will be ours; it will be you shining on others through us…”
John Henry Newman
Used daily by Mother Teresa’s
Missionaries of Charity