How Are Your Eyes?

Catherine McNiel | October 10, 2018

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Matthew 6: 19–23

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, 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. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

—Matthew 6: 19–23

My parents bought me my first pair of glasses when I was about nine years old. We had been visiting a park, standing in front of a herd of elk—but I couldn’t see them. Now, if you have ever been near these massive mammals, you’ll realize how incredible this is. Yes, the herd was a bit shrouded by forest, but these huge animals were clearly visible. Just not to me.

A trip to the eye doctor confirmed that my eyesight had taken a major nosedive (a trend it continued for several years).

I’ve had regular eye exams ever since. I also have an annual visit to my medical doctor, who places a stethoscope against my heart each year. Both make good sense: if my eyes are bad, I won’t be able to see anything. If my heart is bad, I’ll soon not be alive at all.

Jesus uses these powerful metaphors in His teaching: examine your treasure, and you’ll learn the state of your heart. If your eyes are healthy, your whole self will live in light. But if your eyes see only darkness, you will live in profound darkness.

Interestingly, the words we translate “healthy” and “unhealthy” were often used to depict economic health—generous vs stingy. So, Jesus says, consider your treasure: if you are generous, you will live in light. If you are stingy, in darkness.

I’ve been around people who give generously, who encourage those around them, who invest in everyone they meet. And I’ve been around people who are stingy, who withhold, take, grasp, and hoard. It’s easy to see the light that surrounds the generous person, and the darkness that encompasses the stingy person. It’s also clear to see how everyone around them is impacted by their light . . . or darkness.

Placed within the context of this chapter, New Testament scholar Scot McKnight believes Jesus is asking: Will you respond with generosity and compassion? If so, you will walk in light; but if not, your life will be like darkness.

This isn’t a threat. It isn’t about a path to salvation. It’s just the truth. And I am reminded of it every time I take off my glasses.

Questions for reflection and discussion: How is your heart? What about your eyes? Are you living a generous life? Where is your treasure stored? Look around your house (or open your closet . . . or garage) and answer again. How can we learn to live Jesus’ way?



This week's devotions were written by Catherine McNiel. Catherine and her family have been part of WBC since 2008. Her husband, Matthew, is the director of Puente del Pueblo, our church’s ministry that serves residents of the Timber Lake Apartments and several other areas of West Chicago. Catherine is the author of Long Days of Small Things: Motherhood as a Spiritual Discipline (NavPress).

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