“The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. “But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! Matthew 6:22-23
‘What in the world does this mean?’ That was my first thought as I read this passage. Notice that this passage says, “if your eye is good (or healthy)…” If you read this in the KJV you will find that it says, “if your eye is single…” Sometimes modern translations take too much liberty in translating certain words. I don’t mind modern translations, I like to use the NKJV, but you need to realize that translators make errors sometimes (and not just with modern translations, although, to me, it seems that modern translators make more errors than older ones). This is good to know, especially when you come across a passage that isn’t clear or just doesn’t make sense. The New Testament was originally written in ancient greek. Translators endeavor to bring that ancient greek to a modern english so that we can understand. However, just like modern english speakers have trouble understanding old english (like Shakespeare), it is difficult to take old greek and then bring it to modern english. Most of the time the words and ideas translate fine, but you will find that sometimes the translators aren’t sure of the meaning or the idea being portrayed. In such a case, the translators either translates the passage with the best english equivalent they can think of, or they translate what they think it means. This is why its important to never establish some doctrine off of just one verse you find in the bible. Always have every truth established by two or three witnesses (mt 18:16).
I said all that to say that I think the King James Version does the better job at translating this scripture. And the reason that I say that is because of the context of the scripture.
“If your eye is single, your whole body will be full of light.” I believe this to mean that if your eye is focused on something, then you will be filled with the truth of that subject. However, if your eyes are evil, or shifty, you will be filled with confusion and deception. It would be like a cross-eyed person trying to throw a dart. He wouldn’t be able to ascertain the truth of the placement of the dart board. How could he hit it, except maybe with an occasional lucky throw?
The same is true with the man that shifts his eyes from heaven to earth and back and forth again. In this passage, Jesus was speaking to those who knew about God, but were also tempted with the lure of the world. When your eyes are shifty and not focused on the truth of God, but rather back and forth from God to the world, you fill your heart with confusion and lies. It would be like the man trying to lose weight going from the gym to the bakery, back to the gym and again to the bakery. Then he wonders why he never loses any weight. He is in the deception that he can have the best of both worlds.
Even so, there are people who want to serve God, but also want to serve their sexual appetite, or their lust for power and pride, or their desire for unrestrained, ungodly entertainment. Also, many (as Jesus addresses in the next passage), serve the master of money.
But you cannot serve two masters. Can an employee have two bosses of the same authority? What if one tells them one thing and the other another thing? Which one do they listen to? Sometimes I have that problem at the coffee shop since my wife and I both run the place. The employees have learned quickly to go with what my wife says!
Look what Jesus says:
“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Matthew 6:24 (NIV)
Are you letting money be your master? Most of us look at this passage in regards to greed. And rightly so, because many people serve the god of greed and give their time and health to obtain it. They sacrifice their family on the altar of the god of greed to obtain it. They also sacrifice their own souls on that altar.
But many people also serve the god of money by allowing him to dictate what you do and don’t do. I’ve heard many youth who feel called by God to go on a mission trip who, instead of obeying the King of kings, listen to Money say, “You cannot go!” Some people who are called to college disobey and listen instead to the voice that says, “you don’t have enough!” Don’t serve the god of money, but serve the God that owns all the gold and the silver and the cattle on a thousand hills! If your Master calls you to go, you go! Let Him take care of the bill!
Let your eye be single. Look to God and Him only. He will cleanse your soul from darkness and fill you with the light of His truth. Your spiritual vision will be no longer warped. You will see clearly and walk securely. Amen!