The Bad Eye

What did Jesus mean when He spoke about people with clear eyes whose bodies are full of light and people with bad eyes whose bodies are full of darkness? His words must have something to do with money and material things, because that is what He was talking about before and after.

The Greek word translated “bad” in 6:23 is the same word translated in Matthew 20:15 as “envious.” There we read of an employer to who says to his worker, “Is your eye envious because I am generous?” Obviously an eye cannot literally be envious. Thus the expression “an envious (or bad) eye” speaks of a person with greedy desires. This helps us better understand what Christ meant in Matthew 6:22-23, verses in which the context indicates the subject is money.

The person with a clear eye symbolizes the one who is allowing the light of the truth to come in to him. Thus he serves God and lays up treasure, not on earth, but in heaven. The person with the bad eye shuts out the light of the truth from coming in, because he thinks he already has the truth, and thus he is full of darkness, believing lies. He lays up treasure on earth where his heart is. He believes that the purpose of his life is self-gratification. Money is his god. He is not heaven-bound.

What does it mean to have money as your god? It means that money has a place in your life that only God should rightfully have. Money is directing your life. It consumes your energy, thoughts and time. It is the main source of your joy. You love it.[1]That is why Paul equated greed with idolatry, stating that no greedy person will inherit God’s kingdom (see Eph. 5:5; Col. 3:5-6).

Both God and money want to be masters of our lives, and Jesus said we can’t serve them both. Again we see that Jesus stayed with His primary theme—Only the holy will inherit God’s kingdom. He made it very clear that people who are full of darkness, whose god is money, and who lay up earthly treasures, are not on the narrow road that leads to life.

[1] On another occasion, Jesus made the same statement about the impossibility of serving God and mammon, and Luke tells us, “Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things, and they were scoffing at Him” (Luke 16:14).