The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!Matthew 6:22-23 NKJV
Often in our journey through the Bible, we read scriptures that aren’t really clear in what they are saying. We try our best to understand what God is saying but it just doesn’t jump off the page and into your heart. Then one day you will be reading and suddenly it jumps off the page and it clears up lots of questions that you had. That was my experience a couple of weeks ago with the verses above. I was reading a different translation than I normally read and this changed the way I understood these verses.
For a long time if you asked me about the good eye vs the bad eye I would have said something like this. The good eye belongs to someone who is focused on God and is keeping their life focused on God’s word and living a life that is pleasing to God. By living life focused on God their whole body is full of light and this enables them to give God the proper place in their life. They find joy by serving God and serving others. On the other hand, if your eye is bad, you are living a life that is focused on yourself. Not caring about God or the life He wants you to live. This person is mostly interested in their own life and not looking to God for instruction or direction in life. This is completely opposite so this results in their body and life being filled with darkness.
One way to understand scripture is looking at the verses around the one that you are trying to understand. In this case, verses 19-21 deal with the difference between storing up treasures on earth and laying up treasures in heaven. They remind us that earthly treasures can be destroyed over time or even stolen. Heavenly treasures though are not vulnerable to rust or being stolen. Then we are reminded that where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Basically this is a warning about how we use our money. Do we spend it on earthly things or heavenly things? I’ve often said that whenever I give to the church or someone in need, I’ve also made a heavenly deposit that will be stored in heaven to my future rewards.
Then in verse 24, which is after the verses above, we are told that we can not serve two masters because we will hate one and love the other or we will be loyal to the one and despise the other. The verse ends telling us we cannot serve God and mammon, or money.
So there you have it. Nestled between verses that deal with money we find these verses about the good eye and the bad eye. Sometimes this happens to me and I find a verse that seems out of place. That was the case with these as I didn’t really catch the connection between the eyes and money. That is until a couple of weeks ago. I was reading a new to me translation. The Complete Jewish Study Bible. I usually read the New King James Version, but I like to read other translations as they will sometimes help me get a clearer view of what I’m reading. That’s what happened when these verses got really clear to me.
I was reading in Matthew chapter 6 and when I came to the “eye” verses, this translation described the good as generous and the bad as stingy. And suddenly everything fit together perfectly. The eye verses were dealing with money also and they were right where they belonged. I had never thought of generous as “good eye” or stingy as a “bad eye”. According to a side note in the study Bible, this was a Jewish saying that was popular during the time Jesus was on the earth. A rabbi might say , “if a person gives a gift, let him give it with a good eye, ” meaning give it generously. I never got that until I was fortunate enough to read this translation.
I guess now would be a good time to confess that I’m not the sharpest pencil in the box, but with God’s help, I’m still learning. Somehow I had never seen generous or stingy in the verses. But I’m glad that God has shown this to me. It’s so much clearer now than it was. It has made me look at my own giving and question if my giving lives up to what God wants us to do. I want my body and life to be full of light and to be a blessing to God.
In fact I began to think about a biblical definition of generous and it didn’t take long to realize that the gift God gave was the most generous gift of all.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16. NKJV