Countless churches across the country have embraced a 21-days-of-prayer-and-fasting program to refocus goals and connect with God on a deeper level at the beginning of every new year. I’ve read and heard a lot of people’s singular “word” they’ve each deemed as their individual themes for 2020.
I caught a virus after Christmas and wasn’t in any mood to think about my personal goals or a “theme” leading up to this year; I felt pretty discouraged. But just a couple days after the new year began, God gave me an encouraging, reminder.
While skimming an online article, I noticed a link to an older article, titled, “Matthew McConaughey reveals biblical inspiration for son Levi's name.” He explained his favorite Bible verse is Matthew 6:22: “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light” (KJV).
McConaughey went on to reveal his son Levi was born at 6:22, which he and his wife took as a sign from God to name his son after his favorite Bible verse -- clarifying that Levi is actually another name for Matthew in the Bible. I was amazed hearing this story not only for its own novelty, but because this specific verse has profound meaning in my own life.
More than five years ago, I felt a nudge from God to create a faith-based network around a specific thought: keep the message simple, and keep it all about Jesus.
When I first had the idea, I started looking for unique ways to brand the word “simple” and Googled “words for simple in other languages.” The first search result was a definition from Strong’s Greek Lexicon, a dictionary used to translate New Testament verses from their original Greek meanings.
My search for the word “simple” yielded the Greek word "haplous." It was a word spoken by Jesus in (can you believe it?) Matthew 6:22. “Haplous” was the word He used to describe the eye.
As Strong’s Concordance defines it, the literal meaning is "without folds," referring to "a single, undivided focus without a (secret) ‘double agenda’ which prevents an over-complicated life.”
Watching McConaughey’s interview reminded me of a timeless lesson that is, sadly, easily forgotten: when you keep your eyes fixed solely on Jesus, He will direct your paths and take care of the rest.
Just a couple of days later, my church played a video trailer to debut their first sermon series of the year. I let out an audible gasp as the voiceover played saying, “The eye is the lamp of the whole body. When your eye is clear, and not duplicitous, it brings light to your whole life.”
I truly could not believe my eyes or ears. The very verse God led me to years ago and reminded me of just a few days before is now the theme of my church’s first sermon series to kick off the new year. If I had any doubt whatsoever about God’s intended goals for me this year, there was no denying it now.
I share this story because while I do feel a deeply intimate connection to this verse for my own reasons, it can be applied to every human being’s life in a personal way. As a Christian I believe it is a universal truth that all people were created to focus on Jesus on a daily basis -- to worship Him, thank Him for His sacrifice and provision, ask Him about His plans for us as individuals, and offer Him ourselves to be catalysts of change for His Kingdom.
As Matthew 6:22-23 points out, it’s so easy for us to become distracted and to over-complicate our lives. Jesus knew this about us, which is why He broke it down to something as simple as our vision. He explained when we have a clear view of our end-goal (which for all of us, should be to become as much like Jesus as we can), our lives will unfold naturally, producing the best possible results.
While making goals for ourselves is admirable, the best pursuit is to live our lives imitating Jesus. We should all embrace Jesus’ instruction and keep our eyes fixed on Him every day, one day at a time, this year and every year of our lives. It really is that simple.