“Morning by morning, O Lord, you hear my voice”
The Lamp of the Body
(Please read Matthew 6:22-23)
Our text is part of the climax of the Sermon on the Mount. In the sermon Jesus had condemned human deceitfulness in several respects, including giving alms from two motives, praying from two motives, fasting from two motives, and so on. Here he indicates that people are also in danger of seeing double.
People in that day sometimes used the word “eyes” to refer to a person’s disposition. For example, Proverbs 22:9 in the King James Version says, “He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor.” Some later translations render that first part as “a generous man” or words to that effect. Similarly, Proverbs 28:22 in the KJV says, in part, “He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil eye,” which the NIV translates as, “A stingy man is eager to get rich.”
If a person’s physical eyes are good, his “whole body will be full of light”; but if he is blind, the opposite is true. In the same way, if his heart is centered on heaven, he is filled with spiritual light.
With this analogy, then, Jesus placed before his hearers the choice they would be making. The contrast between light and total darkness is sharp indeed, but so is the difference between following Christ and spurning his teaching. As we near the new year, it seems like a good time to take stock of where we are and where we are headed. Let’s all resolve to avoid the evil eye and seek “a bountiful eye” before the Lord.