Serving God: Eyes, Ears and Mouth
Examining what we do with the different parts of our body can be a good way to improve our lives and live in a way that is more pleasing to God. In this post, let’s look at how we can better use our eyes, ears and mouth.
In one of his most famous passages, the apostle Paul exhorts us to present our bodies as a “living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God” (Romans 12:1). Our bodies have many parts that have different functions (verse 4). We can use certain parts of our body to either honor God or dishonor Him.
The Bible frequently addresses our thoughts and deeds by using the following three groups of body parts: our eyes, ears and mouth; our hands and feet; and our mind and heart.
This blog post will begin a short series looking at these three major combinations and how we can use these parts of our bodies to serve God better.
In this first blog post, we will look at our eyes, ears and mouth—the three parts of our body that determine how we see and communicate.
The image of the three wise monkeys depicts the proverb: “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.” The proverb illustrates, in a very simple way, how people of character should use their eyes, ears and mouth. Let’s now consider each one in more detail from the perspective of God’s Word, the Bible.
A 2014 survey found that Americans believe losing their eyesight would have the greatest detrimental impact on their everyday lives—more than loss of limb, memory, hearing or speech. This shows the importance of our ability to see. Nearly every part of a person’s life is impacted if he or she has no vision. In fact, we take in nearly 80 percent of our sensory information through our eyes.
But, despite valuing our eyes so highly, do we sometimes lose sight of how God tells us to use them?
Consider some of the things the Bible says about our eyes:
- The Bible warns us about the “lust of the eyes.” The first human sin occurred after Eve saw the forbidden fruit as “pleasant to the eyes” (Genesis 3:6). Sin often does look appealing and enticing. The apostle John tells us that “the lust of the eyes” is one of the greatest dangers that can get us off track (1 John 2:16). Job described himself as making a “covenant” with his eyes not to look lustfully at a woman (Job 31:1; compare Matthew 5:28). This helped him be a man who “shunned evil” (Job 1:1). If King David had done this, he could have avoided his most famous sin (2 Samuel 11:2) and a host of terrible consequences for him and his family (2 Samuel 12:10-12, 13-14). Likewise, you and I can avoid many problems if we recognize “the lust of the eyes” and direct our eyes away from things that can lead us down the wrong path.
- The Bible instructs us to appreciate the beauty and intricacy of the creation. Our eyes allow us to see the beauty of God’s physical creation. Jesus tells us to consider the beauty of the lilies and what they can teach us about God’s care and concern for our lives (Luke 12:27). By looking at and considering the beauty and intricacy of God’s creation, we can better understand Him and His power (Romans 1:20).
- The Bible calls our eyes the “lamp of the body.” Jesus used this phrase to highlight the power of the eyes to steer our bodies toward evil and destruction or toward righteousness and life (Matthew 6:22-23).
- The Bible tells us to watch. The Bible encourages us to be watchful (Luke 21:36; see also Matthew 16:3). We should watch the world around us to help us “discern the signs of the times” (Ephesians 6:18). The Bible gives many events and trends that must happen before Christ returns. We should be aware of those prophecies and watch our world with those prophecies in mind. We should also be watching our lives to make sure we are “so doing” (actively practicing God’s ways) in anticipation of Christ’s return (Luke 12:37-38, 39-40, 41-43).
- The Bible instructs us to read. Reading is one of the most important functions of our eyes. God expects us to read and learn from His words and laws (Deuteronomy 17:19; Revelation 1:3). In teaching the religious leaders of His day, Jesus often reminded them of what they had read in the Scriptures (Matthew 12:5). Jesus and the apostles regularly read from God’s Word on the Sabbath day (Luke 4:16; Act 13:14-15). Likewise, Christians today should be diligently reading and studying the Bible (2 Timothy 2:15).
Our ears are receivers of sound. We use them to pay attention to others, hear birds sing and listen to music. But as with our eyesight, we can use our ears in good ways and bad ways. Consider some of the things the Bible says about our ears:
- Be careful what you hear. Jesus warns us that we need to be careful what we listen to (Mark 4:24). We are also warned against having “itching ears”—that is, constantly listening for ideas from all kinds of sources, many of which are false and will lead us in wrong directions (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
- Be careful how you hear. Jesus also warns us to pay attention to how we hear (Luke 8:18). Sometimes when people are speaking to us, we hear the words but aren’t really listening. This is often because we are almost entirely focused on what we will say next. The apostle James advised us to do the opposite—to be more eager to hear and listen than to be heard ourselves (James 1:19). He also warns us that hearing is not enough, but that it must be followed by action (verses 22-23).
- Be careful of music. Music is a good thing. In fact, it was created by God, and we find it used positively throughout the Bible—such as in praise to God for deliverance (Exodus 15) and victories (1 Samuel 18:6) or in a church service with other brethren (Ephesians 5:19).
Music can have powerful effects on us. It can be used to calm and relax a person (1 Samuel 16:23). But it can also be used as a part of false worship (Daniel 3:5). Some kinds of music can also inspire feelings of depression, anger or promote false ideas. If a piece of music influences us toward negativity, it’s probably best to listen to something else.
The mouth is the most powerful tool we have to express our inward feelings and beliefs. Of the three body parts we are covering in this blog post, the mouth often has the most potential to get us into trouble. Consider some of the things the Bible says about our mouth:
- Watch what we say. The apostle James wrote some strongly worded descriptions of this small member of our bodies. He called it “a fire, a world of iniquity … an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:6, 8). Our mouth has the potential to cause many fires—in others’ lives and in our own lives! Jesus taught that our words reveal what’s in our hearts (Matthew 12:34). He also warned that we will be judged for “every idle word” (verses 36-37). The point is that learning to control our tongue takes work, but it is work we have to do. While our mouth has the power to tear people down, God’s Word says we should use it to edify, to build others up (Proverbs 18:21). Gentle and kind words spoken at just the right time can soothe people’s minds and provide healing (Proverbs 12:18; 16:24).
- Watch what we eat. Many believe God doesn’t care what we eat—what goes into our mouth. But a careful reading of Scripture shows that God ordained some meats as food (“clean” meats) and others as unfit for food (“unclean” meats). You can discover which meats are which by reading through Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. We have also prepared a detailed infographic to help you learn the difference.
The Bible also teaches that things that are permissible to eat should be eaten in moderation (Proverbs 25:16). This is wise advice considering today’s epidemic of obesity and diabetes.
Let’s use our eyes, ears and mouth to serve our Creator better!
In the next post in this series, we will examine what the Bible says about our hands and feet.