An Evil Eye

Two Visions

In my last post I discussed Jesus words in Matthew 6:19-21. There he focused on two treasures–treasures stored on earth and treasures stored in heaven. In verses 22-23 Jesus offers a second, more ambiguous illustration. But once you dig past the surface and discover what Jesus had in mind, it’s a sobering truth. Notice verses 22-23:

The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

An evil eye or a healthy eye?

At first glance it seems quite obscure. But the more we ponder at the text, its meaning becomes clear.  First, Jesus says that the “eye is the lamp of the body.” What does that mean? Simply, that through our eyes we see things. That’s it. Jesus isn’t trying to be scientific; he is just trying to build a metaphor to teach a spiritual truth. Our eye is the way we see things before us. 

Then, he gives us two comparisons. First, we have “a healthy eye.” The word “healthy” here is important for us in understanding what Jesus means. The word carries two primary meanings: (1) undivided/single, and (2) generous. Usually and most often the word takes on the first idea, but I believe the context lends itself to the latter. The reason is because of how it fits with Jesus comparison of the good and bad eye as we will see. 

The clarity of what Jesus means here comes to light when we understand what he meant by the phrase “bad eye.” The phrase literally means “evil eye.” What is interesting here is that the phrase “evil eye” was a Jewish idiom that meant “stingy/greedy.” Take for example Proverbs 28:22 which says:

A stingy man hastens after wealth and does not know that poverty will come upon him (Proverbs 28:22)

The word “stingy” in the above passage means literally “a man whose eye is evil.” An evil eye therefore was used to describe someone who was greedy, and stingy. 

Therefore, when we read “bad eye” and “healthy eye” what Jesus is comparing is a “stingy person” verses a “generous person.” The one with a bad eye is full of darkness. They are unable to view the world through the lens of the Kingdom because of their greed and stinginess. On the other hand, those with healthy eyes are full of light. They are generous and understand that money is simply a means of investing in God’s Kingdom. 

Now follow me here, what Jesus is saying is this: the way we view Money—whether we are greedy or generous—carries over into the whole of a person! That means the way we deal with our money directly affects how we will live in every other area of our Christian life! In essence Jesus is saying “if you are greedy your whole life will be full of darkness, but if you are generous your whole life will be full of light.” That’s why Paul says so clearly in Colossians 3:

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory (Colossians 3:1-4)

So the question as Jesus puts it in the end of verse 23 is “how great is the darkness? This is a call to reflect on our own lives! Do we have evil eyes or good eyes? Are we greedy or are we generous? Do we view our money as wholly devoted to God’s Kingdom or do we view our money as ours, and long for more? What’s are view? We have only two choices.  The main point is the same:  How we view our money determines how we view our love for God

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