And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things.This scripture has inspired me for a long time, but recently it gained new importance in my struggle to understand. What caught my attention was what it means to have an eye that is "single to [God's] glory". I suppose like most people I just vaguely understood that concept as being "focused" on God and the commandments. In other words, if I rigidly conformed to a set of behavioral standards and focused on becoming more "righteous" as defined by my primary-understanding of the "Thou shalt nots," then I would be filled with this mysterious "light."
In retrospect, it is understandable that I would have such a view because in the very next verse is the charge to "sanctify yourself" in order to achieve this singleness of mind. But, the concept of sanctifying myself is not explained in those versus. As in most scripture versus, understanding what the words mean is critical. Sometimes, we think we understand what the words mean because we lean not on whisperings of the Holy Ghost as we pray and study scripture, but on the worn-out cliches we've developed in our minds from years of hearing words over the pulpit. As I've come to understand the scriptures better, it seems that the biggest difficulty in keeping an eye "single to the glory of God" is understanding what that concept even means.
As I've pondered the concept of our "eye" referred to in this scripture, some additional words that come to mind which might explain the concept more fully are "world-view" and "mindset." What does it mean to have our "mindset" single to the glory of God? If our way of looking at and perceiving the world is to be "single to the glory of God" then it sounds like we had better understand what is the "glory of God."
There are several scriptures that discuss the "glory of God" as being celestial glory which is compared to the light of the sun (e.g. D&C 76:70, Matt 13:43). This radiating light is clearly a manifestation of the glory of God. These scriptures also make clear that receiving the glory of God in the celestial kingdom is part of what it means to be "filled with light." While these scriptures help us understand that celestial glory is available to the "righteous," they provide little insight on how to obtain it, other than the concept that we must "be as God is" to live in his presence.
I suppose that it is this concept of "becoming like God" that led to my somewhat self-centered view that being "single" to the glory of God is a self-focused enterprise. I now believe that nothing could be further from the truth.
Turning to Moses 1:39 we read:
For behold, this is my work and my glory — to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.So, the glory of God is found in his work of lifting His children to a celestial state. God's glory radiates from his devoted love for us, His children and His desire to see us achieve our full potential.
Keeping my "eye" single to the glory of God is keeping my mindset devoted in love to others and their potential. I must see each person as a child of God, worthy of respect and consideration. Other scriptures support this concept. Consider Mormon 8:15 where Moroni discusses how the Book of Mormon will be brought to light in the latter days:
For none can have power to bring it to light save it be given him of God; for God wills that it shall be done with an eye single to his glory, or the welfare of the ancient and long dispersed covenant people of the Lord.Notice how the "eye single to his glory" is rephrased as concern for the "welfare" of the "convenant people of the Lord." Or notice how in D&C 4:5, the qualifications of those who would assist in the missionary work are described:
And faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work.Keeping an eye single to the glory of God is here associated with being filled with faith, hope, charity, and love. These specific attributes are essential to lifting others to their full potential.
Thus a mindset that is single to the glory of God is one that is full of sincere and true love for others. Contemplating what it means to truly love others, I'm reminded of Kant's moral imperative wherein he defines ethical behavior in that we do not treat others as "means-only" but as "ends." In other words, we respect others as children of God with divine potential.
In particular, I think this means that we must respect the agency of each person. For "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son" to suffer the consequences of the wrong choices that would follow from preserving to us our agency. If God's glory is accomplished by preserving our agency, then keeping our eye single to the glory of God must certainly include respecting the agency and rights of others.
My experience is that as I've truly sought to value the agency of others, I have been led to knowledge and understanding of how such thinking leads actually leads to a successful society. To me, this has been part of the light that is promised to those who keep their eye single to the glory of God. One aspect of this understanding has come from the writings of Ludwig von Mises and his colleagues of the Austrian school for economics. For example, see many of the writings at http://www.mises.org for more details on how respecting the agency of others leads to economic prosperity.
In his work "Human Action," von Mises begins with the premise that humans act (i.e. that we have agency) and constructs the logical consequences of that premise to show that a free-society based on voluntary transactions (as opposed to coercively regulated) is the only way to maximize prosperity.
This idea has led to an awareness of how such simple principles are not being followed in the world today and it is causing great suffering. This idea of agency and those who would undermine it, has also led to a greater understanding of the prophecies regarding our day, especially the words of Isaiah who constantly speaks of "justice." Perhaps future posts will explore some of these ideas.