The Lamp of the Body
“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!”– Matthew 6:22
In Matthew’s account, this talk about the healthy and bad “eye” comes directly after the warning about laying up treasures on earth and directly before the statement that we cannot serve both God and “money” (possessions, treasures, “stuff”). Now, the use of “eye” here is nearly synonymous with our concept of “mind set” or “focus.” Our “eye” is our outlook on reality, our way of perceiving and responding to what is perceived. Jesus says that this is the “lamp” of our body (i.e., our whole being). So, to put a gloss on this teaching, it seems Jesus is saying that how we perceive and respond to reality either illuminates or darkens our entire being.
With that in mind, consider again the placement of this this”eye” statement: directly following a discussion about treasures on earth vs treasures in heaven, and directly preceding the teaching that we cannot serve both God and possessions. The context of the eye teaching, then, inclines me to think that the “health” of our eye is manifest in what we treasure/serve…..God or Stuff.
If we perceive God as most valuable and react accordingly, our eye is healthy, if we fail to perceive Him as such–or act as though He is not supremely valuable–then our eye is bad.
However…the key thing to realize here is that to perceive God as supremely valuable means to perceive YHWH as supremely valuable…..we’re not talking “generic god” here, not even generic monotheistic God…we are talking about the one true, living and Triune God of scripture. And to perceive YHWH as supremely valuable MUST MEAN to perceive the all-surpassing beauty of the one true God in the Crucified Christ who has risen again (2 Cor.4:6). We do not know (and so cannot value) God unless we know Him definitively as the one whose Sovereign love moves Him to swallow infinite godforsakenness into Himself–and rise again.
To know God in the self-giving of the Son, to see Him there and say, “My Lord and my God” and to carry out all of life with Him as the all-illuminating and all-pervading treasure of our lives….that is to have a healthy eye…..May He grant it to us all more and more!