Some words of Jesus seem to make no sense at all. For instance, we read, “The eye is the lamp of the body….” Then, as if this were not confusing enough, Jesus adds, “So, if your eye is healthy (ἁπλοῦς; aplous) your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad (πονηρὸς; poneros), your whole body will be full of darkness” (Matthew 6:22-23a. The most popular way of dealing with texts such as these is to ignore them!
First, let’s talk about Jesus’ statement, “The eye is the lamp of the body.” Modern people, like you and me, think of the eye as a window that allows light into the body. Ancient Jews, however, thought that the eye was the origin of light (something of a flashlight). In other words, everything in your life depends on how you see things. Someone put it this way: “It is your attitude, not your aptitude, that determines your altitude.” (don’t worry I had to reread it few times too, but it was worth it!)
Our second insight concerns the meaning of the “healthy eye” versus “evil eye.” A better translation should be “a single-minded eye” versus a “lustful eye.” Jesus is using these terms metaphorically. A man with a “single-minded eye” looks at a God-given path alone! God’s word becomes the guiding light (Psalm 119:105). But the one with “the lustful eye” gets distracted and greedy by coveting the possessions of others. As envy takes root, generosity dies. Then darkness settles in. This is why we must remember that “the eye is the lamp of God,” so that our eye stays healthy and we always walk in God’s paths.