I’m near-sighted. Everything in the distance appears blurry and unfocused. In my case, I’m very near-sighted. An object needs to be two inches from my nose to have any details. It can be a challenge to walk around, but I manage. Driving without my glasses, on the other hand, would be ridiculously foolish and dangerous. I can barely see the steering wheel. The easiest way to figure out if a car was in front of me would be to hit it. That’s not safe.
Would it be any smarter or any safer to go through life spiritually short-sighted? That is a condition Peter introduces us to. “For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted” (II Pet. 1:9).
When Peter spoke of being short-sighted, he was specifically referencing our pasts. He warned about a Christian who had “forgotten his purification from his former sins” (II Pet. 1:9). By forgetting his past, this Christian failed to diligently grow (II Pet. 1:5-9). Someone who has recently bathed tries to avoid getting dirty again. Someone who just brushed their teeth, typically avoids eating a quick snack right afterwards. The goal is to keep clean. But what happens when we forget that we’ve bathed or brushed? The same thing that happens when we forget that we’ve been made spiritually clean.
Of course, when we look to our past and see our spiritual cleansing we can also see the tremendous cost that accomplished it. Only one act in all of the world in all of time has ever been able to remove the filthy guilt we’ve brought upon ourselves: the Son of God coming in the flesh and dying on the cross. When we can clearly see the cost of our forgiveness, it should make us abhor bringing sin back to our lives. With great zeal we should strive to improve rather than return to “wallowing in the mire” (II Pet. 2:22).
Short-sightedness works both directions though. It keeps us from seeing the future as well as the past. Peter may have only been referencing the past, but the rest of Scripture references looking to the future. Jesus, “for the joy set before Him” endured the cross (Heb. 12:2). Had He been short-sighted, He would only have seen the pain and suffering. He would have quit.
In the same way, the Christian who encounters various trials, can endure if he looks to the future (Jam. 1:2-4; Rom. 5:3-5). Looking ahead and seeing the great rewards which await us in heaven, we can join with Paul in thinking that what we face now, whatever it is or however difficult it may be, is “momentary, light affliction” (II Cor. 4:17). With good spiritual vision, we know that the future hope is “glory far beyond all comparison” (II Cor. 4:17). But the spiritually short-sighted will only see the challenges of the moment. And in so doing, they lose the strength and motivation to endure and grow.
I am very blessed to live in a time where my short-sightedness is so easily overcome. A pair of glasses is all I need to correct my vision. Spiritual short-sightedness can be overcome too. In some ways, all we have to do is open our eyes and look. Spend time thinking about our past and learning from it. Spend time thinking about the inevitability of death and judgment and the incomparable joy of heaven. See the past. See the future. With this sight, learn and be motivated in the now.