Matthew 6:22 A Single, Clear, Healthy, and Good Eye

Matthew 6:22

The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. (KJV)

The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. (NASB)

“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light,” (ESV)

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. (NIV)

What does it mean to have a “single” eye, a “clear” eye, a “healthy” eye, or “good” eyes?

Only in Mat_6:22; Luk_11:34 translated single, i.e., not complex, easy, used of the eye as not seeing double as when it is diseased. When the eye accomplishes its purpose of seeing things as they are, then it is haploús, single, healthy, perfect. Singleness, simplicity, absence of folds. This, however, does not involve stupidity on the part of the Christian, but rather phróne?sis (G5428), prudence, knowing how to deal with fellow humans and the circumstances of life. Thus the Christian is supposed to be not only haploús, single and without duplicity, but also phrónimos (G5429), prudent.” (G573, The Complete Word Study Dictionary (electronic), Spiros Zodhiates)

How do we “see” the world? How do we “see” God?

For many years, I saw the world as being “spiritual.” For me this meant that I put everything that was metaphysical, esoteric, philosophical, and religious into a large basket and called it God. Then I could reach my hand into the basket and pull out whatever was interesting or appealing to me on a specific day. My eye strove to see the complexities and interweaving of all “spiritual” things. I could impress people with discourses on subjects of reincarnation, karma, parts of the human spiritual body, forces of nature, and even the esoteric conception of Christ. BUT THERE WAS NO LIGHT IN ME! The light, I thought I had, was of my own creation; and it was feeble indeed. Through it all, there was only one thing that I really wanted, and that was to know Christ Jesus. It was His gentle, but constant call that gave me the willingness to seek simplicity.

One-by-one I said good-by to the stuff in the basket of my spirituality until I got down to the truth. There is only one God consisting of the Father, son, and Holy Spirit. God created us and the world in which we live. We disobeyed God and He responded by giving us over to sin and death. But He did not leave us there forever. The Father sent His only son to live among us. He was all-God and All-man so that He could be sacrificed as an atonement for all sin. This God-man lived, taught, was killed, rose from the dead, ascended to heaven and sent the Holy Spirit of truth to those who would believe in Christ Jesus, repent for their sins, and choose to be subject to the perfect will of God the Father in all aspects of life. For awhile, my basket only contained this content, but now, it is slowly being filled by the hand of God. He is filling my basket with the truth of the Bible and showing me how to carry the basket of His truth into the world. I know I am human, subject to deception and sin, but I am learning to trust in the power of God. Through Him I will learn, be convicted of sin, and be corrected, and if necessary be chastised.

Lord Jesus, I no longer seek complexity, but simplicity. I have so much more to learn and need your help to sanctify me. Help me carry your truth in my heart so that my arms will be free to do the will of our Father in Heaven. Please send brothers and sisters of Your choosing into my life so we can help one another have a closer relationship with You. Lord, may our eyes be single, clear, healthy, and good. Amen.

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Eyeing the good

The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light. (Matthew 6: 22)

This is Jesus speaking, in the collection of his teachings called the Sermon on the Mount. This verse in context (Matthew 6:19-24):

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.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! No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

Money, money, money. What to do with it? Jesus’s basic teaching here is to “hate” money. That is, don’t love it. Don’t put your heart’s hopes on it. Don’t let it compete with your love for God.

So, I take today’s passage to mean something like: Don’t keep eyeing it. Money as a goal will lead you down dark paths, and the darkness will even enter you and extinguish what light shines there. Rather, look to the light, and you will be full of light. The Greek word for healthy can also be translated as single or whole, and reminds me of something that is pure and undefiled. As Kierkegaard wrote: Purity of heart is to will one thing.

As with money, so other things that we eye. We can choose to look on the bad or the good; we can fill our hearts with the good or the bad. But our choices lead us on towards greater or lesser goodness, greater or lesser badness inside ourselves.

Sometimes, we keep our eyes shut to the good. The following is a simple spiritual practice I sometimes use when walking. My wife, Bess, told me about it; her friend Jane Knuth told her; it is based on the Navajo “Walk in Beauty” chant.

  • First, pay attention to the beauty in front of you.
  • Then, pay attention to the beauty to the left of you.
  • Then, pay attention to the beauty to the right of you.
  • Then, pay attention to the beauty behind you.
  • Then, pay attention to the beauty below you.
  • Then, pay attention to the beauty above you.

By “pay attention,” I mean notice and savor the beauty you find, and then praise the Maker of that beauty.