Money Eyes

Jesus desires single-minded devotion to Him, and therefore demands single-minded actions of generosity from His followers. By Justin and Courtney Rose

Amid Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:22-23) are a peculiar couple of verses tucked into teaching about how followers of Jesus are supposed to pray, fast and use their money. Jesus speaks about the eye being the lamp of the body and that if your eyes are healthy, they will be full of light and then your body will be full of light. On the other hand, if your eyes are unhealthy, it will cause your eyes to be full of darkness. At first reading, this sounds like nonsense.   

To understand these verses, it’s helpful to know two points of background information. The first is that the word used for “healthy” in verse 22 is the word “haplous.” This word carries with it the sense of goodness, soundness, completion of purpose, wholeness, single-mindedness and generosity. The second thing to note is that in many cultures across the world, including the ancient Jewish culture that Jesus lived in, it was thought that the gaze of your eyes could cause great harm or was a curse if you looked on another person with envy and desire to acquire the things that another had.

When Jesus is speaking about eyes in these verses, He is talking about the posture of your heart and the perspective from which you view the world. In His comparison of healthy eyes and unhealthy eyes, He says that healthy eyes are hearts single-mindedly in their focus on generosity and goodness, while unhealthy eyes rake over the world with destructive greed and envy. 

Looking at the passages that surround verses 22-23, we can see that Jesus is talking about money and treasure. In these verses, Jesus is saying that Christians must be full of generosity. Single-minded generosity must be the posture of our hearts and the perspective in which we view all our interactions with the world. However, don’t be lulled into thinking that the generosity that Jesus speaks about here is about how you spend your time or spiritual gifts. No, from the surrounding context, we can see that Jesus is talking about your money!  

To have “haplous” (healthy) eyes means that you are generous with your money in such a way that it is a posture for your heart and the perspective in which you operate in the world. In the following verse, Jesus says that you can either serve God or money, there is only one master. In the same way, your eyes are either healthy and generous or they are unhealthy and envious, causing destruction and harm in the world. In the path of holiness, there is only one choice: we must be generous with our money. We are generous not because God will bless us with more money, but because all earthly treasure is temporary, and Jesus demands healthy generosity from His disciples.

Dig Deeper:

How does looking at the surrounding passages give clarity to the verses in question? How are eyes used throughout Scripture, and how does that relate to the heart? How can having an envious eye cause destruction and lead to darkness within the self? How is financial greed a threat to holiness?

  • May 1: Psalm 119:9-24
  • May 2:Matthew 7:3-5
  • May 3: Matthew 9:27-31
  • May 4: Matthew 13:14-16
  • May 5: Matthew 18:8-9
  • May 6: Matthew 19:23-25
  • May 7: Matthew 20:29-34
  • May 8: Genesis 4:1-16
  • May 9: Genesis 37
  • May 10: Leviticus 25:35-38
  • May 11: Numbers 15:38-40
  • May 12: Deuteronomy 6:4-9
  • May 13: Joshua 7:19-26
  • May 14: 1 Samuel 3:1-21
  • May 15: Psalm 16
  • May 16: Psalm 18:25-36
  • May 17: Psalm 25:12-15
  • May 18: Proverbs 4:25
  • May 19: Proverbs 14:30
  • May 20: Proverbs 23:17
  • May 21: 2 Samuel 24:22-25
  • May 22: John 9:1-17
  • May 23: Acts 9:1-22
  • May 24: Acts 5:1-11
  • May 25: Romans 9:3-8
  • May 26: Galatians 5:19-26
  • May 27: 1 Corinthians 13
  • May 28: 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
  • May 29: 2 Peter 2:13-15
  • May 30: 1 John 2:9-17
  • May 31: James 3:13-18

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