“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 unhealthy, 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 (NRSV).
Wedged between exhortations on treasures and serving two masters comes a penetrating teaching that Jesus proclaims cogently. The “single” eye is healthy, focused, undivided. The unhealthy eye, however, is duplicitous. It is untrustworthy.
Anatomically, the eye reveals a heart aligned or astray to God’s purposes.
The heart and the eye are central to the genesis and revelation of human mind, body and soul. What starts must complete its journey; darkness of eye must manifest itself in evil. At the heart of this invocation is Jesus’ warning to watch and discipline the eye, calling the reader back to Matthew 5:29.
But as a hinge these two verses function in providing an unpopular reminder to one of Jesus’ most fervent commands: love the needy by giving to them generously.
Foundations of kindness in generosity find themselves in the heart devoted to God that directs the eye heavenward, and without hesitation... “What shall I give, Lord?”
The Early Church Got It Right
What impresses most about reading Acts is the sense of genuine community that existed—to the extent that all possessions were sold and the wealth re-distributed so burdens were relieved! (Acts 2:45; 4:32-37) That would test most of us.
Then there’s the story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1-11. This is a powerful story of the sort of danger that lies behind the unhealthy sight of trying to lay up possessions against the will of God. They were struck dead in the sight of the Apostles and many followers. That is how serious a sin it was (and still is).
Light for Sight and Sight for Light
The broader message surrounds devotion to God in the machinations of life. That is, when will we learn that the light of God is there to direct our sight—to conform it to the degree of the single-minded spiritual precipice?
Can we renounce anything (including any material thing) that might have its way over God’s desire? That’s the question.
Sight for light is the spiritual acuity determining a responsive heart from a sullen one, so far as others’ needs are concerned. Can ours be placed on the backburner for a time so others might be lifted up? This is a very practical thing; a daily challenge.
We cannot serve two masters.
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.