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! (Matthew 6:22-23)
Today’s verses, on the surface, don’t seem to fit into the context of this part of Jesus’ message. He has just been talking about storing up treasures in heaven rather than on earth and the next bit will be about not serving God and money. So why should he suddenly start talking about eyes?
I believe this subject of the eye fits in well with the flow of His message. Let me explain.
Jesus is not talking here about physical eyes but spiritual eyes. In the natural, when our eyes are closed we obviously can’t see and when we open them, in the daylight, light floods in and we can see what’s around us and what’s happening. In the spiritual when we have the light of illumination (God’s word) we can see or perceive much more clearly. A famous verse that follows this idea is:
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)
I have heard people using the phrase to people “Do you see what I mean?” quite a lot. We are asking if they understand or comprehend what you are saying. Seeing something or ‘getting it’ is good. If it were bad, it would mean that they don’t get what we are saying and we might need to explain some more.
An example of this idea can be found in Matthew 20 where Jesus is telling the parable of the generous landowner who pays his workers the same wage whether they started first thing in the morning or only ‘clocked on’ late in the afternoon. Verse 15 is translated “Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ (Matthew 20:15) The last part has a footnote in most bibles, because the exact translation is “Or is your eye bad because I am good?”
This explains what Jesus is saying; A bad eye is an eye that doesn’t see grace or goodness or generosity properly. This fits well in the context of money and where our heart is regarding it. A bad eye can look at money in a greedy way and all the opportunities it can use for itself. A good eye will look at the same money and consider how it can be used to bless others or invest into the building of God’s kingdom. It could be the same pile of money but the attitudes about how it should be used would be totally different.
So we can see that Jesus’ argument is following a logical pattern. We are not to lay up for ourselves treasures on earth where we are only thinking about ourselves, but rather looking to eternity, having the view that our money is to be used as a blessing. When we do that, we have healthy eyes and we will not be serving money but God. More on that subject next week.