Matthew 6:22-23 Commentary

 

 

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Seemon on the Mount by Carl Heinrich Bloch (1834-1890)

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"Sermon on the Mount"
(Bloch)

Matthew 6:22-23 Commentary

Matthew 6:22  "The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: O luchnos tou somatos estin (2SPAI) ho ophthalmos. ean oun e (3SPAS) ho ophthalmos sou aplous, holon to soma sou photeinon estai; (3SFMI)
Amplified:  The eye is the lamp of the body. So if your eye is sound, your entire body will be full of light. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)

KJV: The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.
NLT: Your eye is a lamp for your body. A pure eye lets sunshine into your soul. (
NLT - Tyndale House)
Philips:  "The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is evil, your whole body will be full of darkness. (
New Testament in Modern English)
Wuest:  The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye be in single focus, pure, sound, your whole body will be well lighted. (
Wuest: Expanded Translation: Eerdmans)

Young's Literal: The lamp of the body is the eye, if, therefore, thine eye may be perfect, all thy body shall be enlightened

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Matthew 6:19-24 Treasure in Heaven

Matthew 6:19-24 Do Not Worry About Your Life

Matthew 6 Commentary
Matthew 6:1-4   6:5f.   6:7-15   6:9-13   6:16-18   6:19-24   6:25-34
Matthew 6:19-34
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Matthew 6:19-34 The Fatal Failures of Religion
Matthew 6:19-24 Where Is Your Treasure?

Matthew 6:19-24 True Religion - Holy Affections
Matthew 6:19-34 The Cure for Anxious Care
Matthew 6 Commentary
Matthew 6 Commentary
The Gospel of Matthew an Exposition
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Matthew 6:25-33 Lowering Your Stress Factor
Comments on the Gospel of Matthew
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Matthew 6.1-18 An Audience of One; Matthew 6.1-18 Restoration Hardware

Matthew 6.19-24 Matthew 6.25-33
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Matthew 6:19-24 Money, Money, Money
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Matthew 6:16-24 God and Mammon, or Advice to Fortune Hunters

Matthew 6:The Practice of Righteousness
Matthew 6:19-34 Commentary - Lange Commentary
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Matthew 6:19-24: Treasure in Heaven 2 - Study Guide

Matthew 6:19-24: Treasure in Heaven 2
Matthew 6:24-25: Anxious Care

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Matthew 6:19-24 Matthew 6:25-34
Matthew 6:22-24  One Master

Matthew 6:25-34 The Cure for Anxiety
Matthew 6:22, 23: The Single Eye

Matthew 6:22, 23: The Single Eye -2

Matthew 6:19-34 Don’t Be Anxious, Lay Up Treasures
Matthew 6:19-34 The Treasure Principle  
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What Can I Do With My Worry?
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Matthew 6:16f Matthew 6:19f Matthew 6:22f Matthew 6:24
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Matthew 6:16-24 Expository Thoughts
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Matthew 6:22, 23 The Single Eye
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Matthew 6 The Life of Faith in the Kingdom
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Inductive Study on Sermon on the Mount

The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light:  ho luchnos tou somatos estin (2SPAI) ho ophthalmos. ean oun e (3SPAS) ho ophthalmos sou aplous, holon to soma sou photeinon estai (3SFMI)  (Luke 11:34, 35, 36) (Acts 2:46; 2Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 6:5; Colossians 3:22)

Mt 6:22-23 expands Mt 6:19-21, so that the eye becomes an illustration of one's heart.

C H Spurgeon's comments...

22, 23. The motive is the eye of the soul, and if it be clear, the whole character will be right; but if it be polluted, our whole being will become defiled. The eye of the understanding may also be here understood: if a man does not see things in a right light, he may live in sin and yet fancy that he is doing his duty. A man should live up to his light; but if that light is itself darkness, what a mistake his whole course will be! If our religion leads us to sin, it is worse than irreligion. If our faith is presumption, our zeal selfishness, our prayer formality, our hope a delusion, our experience infatuation, the darkness is so great that even our Lord holds up his hands in astonishment and says — “How great is that darkness! “ Oh, for a single eye to God’s glory, a sincere consecration unto the Lord This alone can fill my soul with light.  (Commentary)

Eye (3788) (ophthalmos) is the physical organ of sight, one of the chief channels of information for man. A cruel custom sanctioned among heathen nations was the putting out of the eyes of an enemy or a rival, because in this way his power was most effectually shattered (Judges 16:21-NOTE; 2Kings 25:7; Jeremiah 39:7).

 

The eye, to be useful, was to be "single," not characterized by double vision (cf Luke 11:34). What does an eye do? It enables one to see their way, but it must be a "clear eye" to fulfill this function. Jesus uses the term "bad eye" in a figurative sense, teaching that such an eye tries to focus on worldly possessions (material gain) and on God at the same time which confuses the person ("spiritual double vision") and they cannot see their way clearly as they walk through life. Jesus' main point is that believers must maintain a clear, single eye, giving God our sole attention. "Bad eyes" are stingy and covet money and wealth and produce spiritual darkness, which Jesus warns is great!

 

Fleming offers an interesting explanation that...

 

To illustrate the results of right and wrong attitudes to material things, Jesus referred to a local belief about the results of good and bad eyesight. People believed that eyes were like windows that allowed light to enter the body and keep it in good health. Healthy eyes meant a healthy body (light); diseased eyes meant a diseased body (darkness). A healthy view of material things will result in a healthy spiritual life; but an unhealthy view will mean that the natural spiritual darkness already in the heart will become even darker (Matt 6:22, 23). A person can be a slave of only one master at a time. If people devote their attention to increasing their prosperity and comfort, they can no longer claim to be loyal to God (Matt 6:24).

 

Wiersbe adds that...

 

Wealth not only enslaves the heart, but it also enslaves the mind (Matt. 6:22, 23). God’s Word often uses the eye to represent the attitudes of the mind. If the eye is properly focused on the light, the body can function properly in its movements. But if the eye is out of focus and seeing double, it results in unsteady movements. It is most difficult to make progress while trying to look in two directions at the same time.  If our aim in life is to get material gain, it will mean darkness within. But if our outlook is to serve and glorify God, there will be light within. If what should be light is really darkness, then we are being controlled by darkness; and outlook determines outcome. (Wiersbe, W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor)

 

Jews considered the eye to be the window of one's soul. It follows that what one allows into his or her mind and thought-life produces desires, which in turn produce action and it is one's actions (or conduct) that reveal who that person truly is.

 

Lamp (3088) (luchnos from leukos = brilliant, shining white) referred to a portable lamp (as used in this sermon - Mt 5:15-note) fed with oil, not a candle. The present use is figurative and refers to the lamp of the body, the eye, the only channel through which light enters into the human body.

 

Clear (marginal note = healthy, sincere) (573) (haplous from a = negation + pleko = twine, braid, weave, knit) means single (as translated by the KJV), simple, uncomplicated. It pertains to being motivated by singleness of purpose so as to be open and aboveboard, single, without guile, sincere, straightforward, i.e. without a hidden agenda.

 

Spurgeon writes that...

 

A heart professedly set upon heaven but held in bondage to earth is like an eye blinded by the intrusion of a foreign substance, involving the unfortunate owner of it in darkness. There is no such thing as seeing spiritual things while the soul's windows are fastened up with shutters of worldliness.

 

If thy motive be single — if thou hast only one motive, and that a right one — the master one of glorifying God — if thy eye be single. When a man’s highest motive is himself, what a dark and selfish nature he has; but when his highest motive is his God, what brightness of light will shine upon all.

 

Two leading principles cannot rule in one heart; they cannot both be master. Either sin or grace will engross the whole heart; neither will submit to compromise.

 

Referring to the eye haplous means clear, sound, healthy. Haplous refers to singleness, simplicity, absence of folds and describes an eye which does not see double as it does when it is infected. When the eye accomplishes its purpose of seeing things as they are, then it is "haplous", single, healthy. In this verse the eye is called "single" in a moral sense and so the eye that is clear represents a heart that has single-minded devotion. Piling up earthly treasures "blurs" heavenly vision.

 

There is another meaning that is possible in view of the fact that this word family (haplo-) can refer to generosity or liberality in giving. See MacArthur's explanation below.
 

John MacArthur explains the meaning of a "clear" eye versus an "bad" eye wring that...

 

Words that are closely related to haplous mean “liberality” (Ro 12:8-note; 2Cor. 9:11) and “generously” (James 1:5). The implication in the present verse is that if our heart, represented by the eye, is generous (clear), our whole spiritual life will be flooded with spiritual understanding, or light. If our eye is bad, however, if it is diseased or damaged, no light can enter, and the whole body will be full of darkness. If our hearts are encumbered with material concerns they become “blind” and insensitive to spiritual concerns. The eye is like a window which, when clear, allows light to shine through, but, when dirty, or bad, prevents light from entering.

 

Poneros (bad) usually means evil, as it is translated here in the King James Version. In the Septuagint  (Greek Old Testament) it is often used in translating the Hebrew expression “evil eye,” a Jewish colloquialism that means grudging, or stingy (see Deut. 15:9, “Beware, lest there is a base thought in your heart, saying, 'The seventh year, the year of remission, is near,' and your eye is hostile [verbal form of poneros, ponereuo = to be evil or in a bad state - LXX translates "thine eye shall be evil"] toward your poor brother, and you give him nothing; then he may cry to the LORD against you, and it will be a sin in you”; Pr. 23:6 "Do not eat the bread of a selfish man [literally an "evil eye"], Or desire his delicacies"”). “A man with an evil eye,” for example, is one who “hastens after wealth” (Pr. 28:22 "A man with an evil eye hastens after wealth, And does not know that want will come upon him.").

 

The eye that is bad is the heart that is selfishly indulgent. The person who is materialistic and greedy is spiritually blind. Because he has no way of recognizing true light, he thinks he has light when he does not. What is thought to be light is therefore really darkness, and because of the self-deception, how great is the darkness! The principle is simple and sobering: the way we look at and use our money is a sure barometer of our spiritual condition. (MacArthur, J: Matthew 1-7 Macarthur New Testament Commentary Chicago: Moody Press)

 

Piling up earthly treasures blurs one's spiritual vision.

 

Matthew Henry explains that...

 

The eye... that be singlehaplous—free and bountiful (so the word is frequently rendered, as Ro 12:8-note; 2Co. 8:2, 9:11, 13; Jas 1:5-note, and we read of a bountiful eye, Pr 22:9) (and) liberally affected and inclined to goodness and charity, will direct the man to Christian actions, the whole conversation will be full of light, full of evidences and instances of true Christianity, that pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father (Jas 1:27-note), full of light, of good works, which are our light shining before men; but if the heart be evil, covetous, and hard, and envious, griping and grudging (such a temper of mind is often expressed by an evil eye, Mt 20:15; Mk. 7:22-note; Pr 23:6, 7), the body will be full of darkness, the whole conversation will be heathenish and unchristian.

 

Keener explains that...

 

If we justify valuing material possessions because “everyone does it” or “other people do it more,” our self-justification will blind us to the truth of our disobedience and affect our whole relationship with God. Jesus’ illustration about the “single” (NIV = good) eye and the evil eye would immediately make sense to his hearers: a “good” eye was literally a healthy eye, but figuratively also an eye that looked on others generously (Sirach 32:8). In the Greek text of the Gospels, Jesus literally calls the eye a “single” eye, which is a wordplay: the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible also uses this word for “single” to translate the Hebrew term for “perfect”—thus “single-minded” devotion to God, with one’s heart set on God alone. An “evil eye,” conversely, was a stingy, jealous or greedy eye; yet it also signifies here a bad eye (Mt 6:23), one that cannot see properly. Jesus uses the “single” eye as a transition to his next point, for the “single” eye is literally undivided, having the whole picture: thus one is not divided between two masters, as the text goes on to explain (Mt 6:24). (Matthew 6)

 

Hendriksen has the following explanation of haplous noting that...

 

The basic meaning of the adjective haplous, is simple, single, uncomplicated. However, as is true of words in general, various shades of meaning develop from this primary sense. Thus, for example, the noun haplotes in Eph.6:5-note  ("Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ") and Co. 3:22-note ("Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.") refers to singleness of heart; hence, sincerity, integrity, uprightness (cf. 1Chron. 29:17 "Since I know, O my God, that Thou triest the heart and delightest in uprightness, I, in the integrity of my heart, have willingly offered all these things; so now with joy I have seen Thy people, who are present here, make their offerings willingly to Thee"). See also 2Cor. 11:3: sincere devotion. It is not difficult to understand that the disposition of heart and mind that is “single,” in the sense that it is unmixed with ulterior or selfish motivations, would be “generous.” Hence in Ro 12:8-note ("he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality;"); 2Cor. 8:2 ("that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality.") 2Cor 9:11, 13 the meaning is generosity, liberality; and in James 1:5-note ("But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.")  the adverb haplos means generously.

 

So also the transition from “simple” or “single” to “unmixed with any defect,” “speckless,” hence clear, sound, healthy, is easy to understand... And the evident contrast here (in Mt. 6:22, 23) indicated between the adjectives haplous and poneros (evil, bad) is probably best interpreted by sound versus in poor condition (or bad)....  (Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew Grand Rapids: Baker Book House)

 

Hindson writes that...

 

The concept here is based on the ancient idea that the eyes were the windows through which light entered the body. If the eyes were in good condition the body could receive such light. Tasker (p. 75) notes that Jesus, using this language metaphorically, affirms that if a man’s spiritual sight is healthy and his affections directed toward heavenly treasure, his whole personality will be without blemish. The phrase if … thine eye be single indicates devotion to one purpose. The “single eye” refers to a single, fixed vision or goal. (Hindson, E, Woodrow Kroll: KJV Bible Commentary. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.)

 

Harry Ironside explains the single eye this way...

 

What we need to be concerned about, therefore, is a single eye for the glory of God, an eye that discerns His will in order that we may walk in it. If we turn away to paths of self-will, we go into willful darkness and will soon lose our way.

 

Wiersbe suggests that we...

 

Compare Abraham and Lot in Ge 13:5-18 for an illustration of the “single eye.” The eye here speaks of the outlook of the heart. A single eye means one that is fixed on the spiritual. It is the opposite of the double-minded person in James 1:8-note; Jas 4:4-note, Jas 4:8-note. (Wiersbe, W. W. Wiersbe's Expository Outlines on the New Testament. Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books)

Kent Hughes explains that...

The idea here is simple but beautiful. The eye is pictured as the window through which light comes into the body. If a window is clean and the glass is clear, the light that comes in will properly light every part of the room. If the window is dirty, or if the glass is uneven or tinted or discolored, the light will be hindered, and the room will not receive the full benefit of the light. The amount and quality of the light that comes into a room depends on the condition of the window through which it comes. So it is with the eye. The condition of the eye determines the quality of the light that enters the body. If you are color-blind, all the reds and greens of Christmas decorations are lost to you. If you have cataracts, you may sit next to someone and perceive only a shadow. If your eye is blind, "how great is that darkness." There are no colors, no forms, no motion. Of course, Jesus is not giving us a lesson on optics. He is saying that the light that comes into a man's soul depends on the spiritual condition of the eye though which it has to pass because the eye is the window of the body. (Hughes, R. K. Sermon on the Mount: The Message of the Kingdom. Crossway Books)

J C Ryle wrote that...

 

Singleness of purpose is one great secret of spiritual prosperity

 

Vincent writes that...

 

The picture underlying this adjective (haplous) is that of a piece of cloth or other material, neatly folded once, and without a variety of complicated folds. Hence the idea of simplicity or singleness (compare simplicity from the Latin simplex; semel, once; plicare, to fold). So, in a moral sense, artless, plain, pure. Here sound, as opposed to evil or diseased. Possibly with reference to the double-mindedness and indecision condemned in Mt 6:24. (Vincent, M. R. Word Studies in the New Testament Vol. 1, Page 3-46).

 

Earlier Jesus had declared

 

"Blessed are the pure (single minded focus) in heart for they shall see God" (Mt 5:8-note)

 

Whole (3650) (holos) means whole or all complete in extent, amount, time or degree. Holos is used frequently in the Septuagint to modify "heart" ("whole heart")

 

G Campbell Morgan...

 

And then, as though the Lord turned from these things to give an exposition of the meaning and urgency of it all, He says, "The light of the body is the eye." The light is outside it, beating all round about it, but it is the lamp which catches the light, and enables us to see and to realize. "The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness."

 

The word "evil" here does not mean wicked, but out of order.


Evil is a larger word than sin. Evil includes sorrow, and affliction, and calamity, and fault, as well as definite and positive and willful sin. "If thine eye be evil" - out of order - "thy whole body shall be full of darkness."


Here JESUS seems to say, the thing of utmost importance is that you should have a right view of these things in satisfying the passion for possession. You must have a true view, and that is what He has been attempting to give. The single eye. The evil eye. These are the contrasts.

 

- The single eye is the eye that is unified or simple.


- The evil eye is the eye that is not simple.


An oculist will tell you that there is such a thing as astigmatism a malformation of the lenses, of such a nature that rays of light proceeding from one center do not converge in one point. The single eye is the eye without astigmatism. It is the eye with the lenses properly adjusted, of such a nature that rays of light proceeding from one center do converge at one point.

 

JESUS was not using the word here carelessly when He said "single."

 

It is the eye which has no obliquity, which sees everything true, and in proper proportion. If the eye be evil, then how great is the darkness, what misunderstanding of life, what dire and disastrous failure!


In Modern Painters John Ruskin says: "Seeing falsely is worse than blindness. A man who is too dim-sighted to discern the road from the ditch may feel which is which; but if the ditch appears manifestly to be the road, and the road to be the ditch, what shall become of him? False seeing is unseeing, or the negative side of blindness."


That is the modern method of saying what JESUS said in far more remarkable language: If your eye is single your body is full of light. If it is evil, suffering from malformation, distorted in its view, then your conceptions will be false. The single eye is the eye that looks always toward the infinite, and answers the passion of the soul to possess, in the light of it. The evil eye is the eye that suffers from astigmatism, or obliquity, and has varying centers, and varying reasons, and no focused light, and consequently produces a degraded conception of things. (
Matthew 6:19-24 Commentary)

 

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THE LAMP OF THE BODY - JESUS made a seemingly contradictory statement when He called light darkness.

By comparing two kinds of light, we can better understand what He meant.

Consider first the flickering glow of a lightning bug. Two rare chemicals, luciferase and luciferin, produce the lightning bug's light. Both terms are related to the word lucifer, which means "light-bearing." (Lucifer is also one of the names for Satan.)

Now consider the sun's light. Its brilliance is blinding. In com­parison, the lightning bug's light is darkness.

In Matthew 6, Jesus cautioned His hearers about living for earthly riches and urged them to store treasures in heaven instead. He illustrated His warning by referring to "the lamp of the body," the eye. If we focus on spiritual things, we will be full of light. But if we focus on earthly things, we will be filled with what He described as great darkness. Only Christ can illumine lives with the light of salvation. All lesser lights inevitably leave us in darkness.—D J De Haan
(Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
 

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The Divided Heart - F. B. Meyer has the following devotional based on passages from Matthew 6 and James 1...THE DIVIDED HEART

 

"Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. If thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light."--Matt. 6:21, 22.


"A double minded ("two souled") man is unstable in all his ways."--Jas 1:8-
note.

 

THE CLOSING paragraphs of Matthew 6. are full of instances of a divided heart. The Greek word for care means that which divides.


Some are divided by anxiety. The anxious soul cannot take a strong straight course, any more than a man can sleep who is wondering whether he has bolted the front door or wound up his watch. Some are divided by contrariness--a most difficult and complicated disposition of soul. We would like to be pleasant, helpful, agreeable, and amiable, but are conscious of cross-currents that restrain and make us awkward and disagreeable, and we find ourselves rent between two strong influences, the one to be Christlike and gracious, the other to be distant and angular. Others are divided by fitful and passionate impulses. Happy are they who can hold them well in check. Even St. Paul tells us that he was conscious of these two wills--the better serf which longed to do the will of God, and the lower, selfish, passionate self, which brought him into subjection. St. Augustine tells us that, though the prayers of Monica, his mother, greatly affected him, he was constantly swept back from his ideal by an outbreak of passion.


Bunyan also illustrates the same condition, saying that two selves were at war within him. The Devil came and said, "Sell Him!" But he resisted, even to blood, saying, "I won't!" But, as the Tempter continued urging, "Sell Him!" Bunyan finally yielded, and suffered an agony of remorse, as, on the one hand, he accepted Christ as his only Hope, and on the other, was prepared to barter Him away.


A divided heart lacks the first element of strength--it is unstable. The men who leave their mark on the world are those who can say: "This one thing I do." But we need more than concentration, we need consecration. We must not only be united in ourselves, we must be united in God. Let us make the prayer of Psalm 86:11, our own: "O knit my heart unto Thee, that I may fear Thy name." Yield yourself to God that He may disunite you from the world, and weave you into His own life.

PRAYER - O Faithful Lord, grant to us, we pray Thee, faithful hearts devoted to Thee, and to the service of all men for Thy sake. AMEN. (Our Daily Walk)

 

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F B Meyer has a message entitled "The Intention of the Soul" (an exposition of Matthew 6:22)...

 

The eye is the most striking and important feature of the face. Blue as the azure of heaven, brown as hazel, black as jet, it gives expression and beauty to the countenance, fills with tears of pity, sparkles with the radiance of affection, and flashes with the fire of anger. By the eye we are able, therefore, to discern much of the thoughts and intents of the heart. The eye is also urgently needed to enable us to do the work of life. It is by the eye that we are lighted to our toils, discover the path in which we must tread, and look upon the faces of our friends or the beauty of God's creation. Each time we see a blind person or pass institutions devoted for the recovery of sight, let us lift up our hearts to thank God for this priceless boon.


It is interesting to notice the comparison which our Lord employs, He speaks of the eye as the "light of the body;" in other places the same Greek word is rendered "lamp," or "candle." In the fifth chapter of Matthew we discover the same expression: "Neither do men light a lamp and put it under the bushel." The same word is used in Luke 12: "Let your loins be girded about, and your lamps burning." It is the word by which John the Baptist is designated in John 5--"He was a burning and a shining light"---in contradistinction to the other term, applied to our Lord alone, "That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." The ministry of John was the lamp that lighteth the steps of men until "the Sun of Righteousness arose with healing in his wings." The eye, our Lord says, is the lamp of the house of the body. It is as though He thought of the eye as hanging in the vestibule of the palace of life, casting its rays outward to the busy thoroughfare, and inward to the recesses of the soul.


It is obvious that there must be something in our inner life which corresponds to the eye, for our Lord adverts to the eye as the emblem and symbol of something within. He is not speaking of the eye of the body only, but of its correlative, the eye of the soul. What is that inner eye? Some have supposed that it is the power of a concentrated affection, for truly love sheds a warm glow over all the furniture of the inner life, as well as upon the great world without. Others have affirmed that the intellect is the eye of the soul, by which we are able to behold the ordered process of the world and to consider the processes of thought within us. A truer conception of our Lord's meaning, however, will lead to the conclusion that the eye of the body corresponds to the inward intention and purpose of the soul.


If, for a moment, you will examine your inner life, descending to the profound depths that lie beneath the surface of your being, you will discover that there is one deep aim or purpose which is the real intention of your life. Deep down below the play of emotion and intellect, and of engagement in various interests, there is one strong stream or current running perpetually through the dark ravines of your nature. It may be that you are hardly aware of it; your nearest and dearest friends do not realize it. You would be startled if it were stated in so many words, but it is none the less true that there is a unity in each human character which God perceives. In each of us tie can read a unity of purpose and a unity of will. This is the intention of the soul and distinguishes each of us from every one beside.


The eye may, of course, be healthy or unhealthy. If healthy, a tiny curtain which hangs at the back of the organism is adjusted to receive the focused rays which come from the external objects. On this tiny curtain is formed an invested image of all things which are visible. If you look into the eye of another, and especially into the eye of a little babe, you will see the whole panorama of the world presented as in a cinematoscope. This curtain is perpetually being readjusted, so that the unblurred image of the outer world may be cast upon it. When we are travelling in a railway train it is probable that in a single hour the focus is altered thousands of times, for at every jolt and oscillation of the vehicle there must be a readjustment of the lens.


When the eye is in an unhealthy condition the image is doubled or blurred. There are two ways in which it may become evil. To use a common expression, there may be the obliquity, called a squint, such as disfigured the noble face of Edward Irving. Mrs. Oliphant tells us that, as a babe, he was laid in a wooden cradle, through a whole in which he was able to watch the light with one eye, whilst the other retained its usual straightforward direction. His eyes, therefore, were not parallel, and it was impossible to focus them upon a given object. The soul's intention may be diverted from a single purpose in a double direction. We may pray with the object of gaining an answer from God, and at the same time of receiving credit from man. We may try to amass the treasures of this world, and at the same time to be rich toward God. We may endeavour to serve two masters--God and mammon. This is the counterpart in the spiritual life of a squint in the eye. Another source of ill-health with the eye is when the little vesicles which supply blood for the tiny curtain become overcharged, so that it is impossible for the delicate nerves to adjust the lens, and the vision becomes blurred and indistinct. Yet another source of the evil eye is when a film forms over the surface of the pupil, so that the light cannot enter.


In contradistinction to all these evils, how good it is to have a clear eye, with its distinct vision; and how much more good it is when the purpose and intention of the soul is so undivided that the whole of life is illumined by the glow of a clear and beautiful radiance! All through this chapter our Lord is arguing against this double vision. He says: "Do not profess to belong to the kingdom of heaven while your hearts are buried in the earth; do not have two masters; do not be divided by anxious care; seek first the kingdom of God." All through this chapter He is, in fact, bidding us to make our constant prayer the cry of the psalmist, "Unite my heart to fear thy name." Our Lord sets His whole force against any duplication of character so inimitably described by John Bunyan in "Mr. Facing-both-ways," who, with one eye on heaven and another on earth, sincerely professed one thing and sincerely did another, and, from the inveteracy of his unreality, was unable to see the contradiction of his life. "tie tried to cheat both God and the devil, and in reality he only cheated himself and his neighbours."


There are three kinds of men. First, those who have no intention; second, those who have a double intention; third, those whose intention is pure and simple.

1. Some have no intention.


They live day by day without purpose; the eye of the mind is fixed definitely and intently upon nothing. They take each day as it comes, getting from it anything it may bring, doing the duty it demands; but their existence is from hand to mouth, at haphazard, with no aim, no ambition, no godly purpose. They cannot say, with the apostle, that they are leaving the things which are behind, and pressing forward to the things which are before, or that one thing they are ever engaged in doing. It is quite true that in many cases there may be no great cause to be championed, no subjects to be explored, no object in making money, because already there is an ample competence. Some may read these words who are daughters in a wealthy home, or young men the heirs of a considerable fortune, or people in humble life who have no urgent need to look beyond the day or week with its ordinary routine; but even these should have a supreme purpose--to bring down the New Jerusalem out of heaven, to establish the Kingdom of God amongst men, to hasten the coming of the day of Christ, or to be themselves purer and holier. To become may always be the supreme purpose and intention of the soul; to be a little more like Christ; to know and love Him better; to be able to shed more of His sweetness and strength upon others. There is no life so contained within the high walls of circumstances, but it may reach up toward the profound light of the azure sky that arches above.


Do not be content to drift through life; do not be satisfied to be a piece of flotsam, swept to and fro by the ebb and flow of the stream; do not be a creature of circumstance, because it is certain that if you are not living with a divine purpose for God and eternity you are certainly living for yourself, for your ease, for mere indolent enjoyment, or to get through the years with as little fret and friction as possible. This, at the heart of it, and in such a world as this so abject and needy, is undiluted selfishness. To have no purpose is to have the worst purpose; to have no ambition is to be living for self; to have no intention is to be drifting through the wide gate, in company with the many that go in thereat, to their own destruction.
 

2. Some have a double intention.

 

They have heard the call of Christ and have received the seed of the Kingdom; but so soon as it reached their hearts two strong competitors endeavoured to share with it the nutriment of the soul. On the one hand, there were the cares of the world--these largely have place in the poor and struggling; on the other hand, was the deceitfulness of riches--these principally are found among the opulent and well-to-do. For a brief interval there was a struggle as to which of these should be master, but the strife soon ended in the victory of the sturdy thorn; those ruthless brigands seized for themselves all the sustenance that the soil of the heart could supply, and grew ranker and taller until the tiny grain withered and failed to bring forth fruit to perfection.


Will you not examine yourself? You think that you are whole-hearted, whereas you may be double-hearted; or, to use the apt simile of the prophet, baked on one side and not on the other; or, to use the simile of the great dreamer, looking one way and rowing another. You seem to be very earnest in Christian work, but are you quite sure that your apparent devotion does not arise from a masterfulness of disposition that likes to be independent and rule? May it not be due to a fussy activity, which must be engaged in many directions that the soul may escape from itself; or to a natural pity and sympathy for men, which would incite you to a similar deed, even though you had never heard of Christ? Of course, you say to yourself that your motive is pure and single, and that you only desire to glorify God; but in His sight it may be that you are really actuated by the natural propensities of your nature, by your desire to be first, or by your appetite for notoriety or money. The heart is so deceitful that it becomes us to examine ourselves with all carefulness, lest at the end of life we shall find that, whilst we appeared to be doing God's work, we were really doing our own; and that, whilst our friends gave us credit for great religious devotion, we were really borne along by a vain, proud and unworthy purpose, which robbed our noblest service of all value in the sight of eternity. As the apostle says, the one supreme intention of every child of God should be to please Him. How few of us can say, with the apostle: "Whose I am and whom I serve!" "It is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment; he that judgeth me is the Lord."

3. Let us see to it that we have a pure and simple intention.


Our aim should be to set our whole soul upon one thing only--to do the will of God, so that the whole of our religious life may be spent before the Father, who seeth in secret; that our alms, our prayers, our fastings, should be for His eye, and His alone; and that the whole of our life should emanate from hidden fountains where God's Spirit broods, like those fountains of the Nile concealed in the heart of the great mountains, the secret of .which for so long defied the research of the explorer. The lamp of a holy life is the pure intention of the soul which seeks to gain nothing for itself, which has no desire to please men or to receive their commendation, which does not shirk adversity or court the sunshine, but which sets before it as its all-sufficient goal that God may be well pleased and that at the close of life's brief pilgrimage it may be said of each of us, as it was said of Enoch, "He had this testimony, that he pleased God."


How blessed such a life is! The light of the soul's pure intention illuminates God, duty, human love, the glory of creation, and the significance of history, literature and art. I remember once in my life, at a most important crisis, when for weeks I was torn between two strong, conflicting claims, that at last I was compelled to put aside all engagements and to go alone into the midst of nature, where I carefully examined my heart ¢o its very depths. I found that the cause of the difficulty to ascertain God's will arose because I allowed so many personal considerations to conflict with the inner voice; and when I definitely put these aside, and stilled and quieted my life so that I became conscious of being impelled by one purpose only --to know and to do God's will--then the lamp of a pure intention sheds its glow upon the path which I became assured was the chosen path for me. And since I dared from that moment to follow, all other things have been added. It was when Solomon asked that he might have a wise and understanding heart, that he might know God's purpose, that God gave him honour, wealth and length of days. Again and again these words of Christ ring out as amongst the deepest that He ever spoke: "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you."

 

If the lamp of the pure intention of the soul is not kept pure and clean, "how great is the darkness!" Our Lord alludes, of course, to the fact that when darkness settles upon the forest, the beasts steal forth, the glades resound to the roar of the lion, the cry of the jackal, the laugh of the hyena. Multitudes of beasts that have lain quiet in their lairs whilst the sun was shining, creep forth; and our Lord says that when a man's heart is set on doing God's will the lower and baser passions of his nature--like so many beasts of prey--remain in their hiding places; but as soon as the blur comes, and the soul ceases to live for the one intense purpose of pleasing God, then darkness steals upon the house of life, and all manner of evil and unclean things, that otherwise would be shamed into silence and secrecy, begin to reveal themselves. "How great is that darkness!" If any are conscious that there is a darkness upon life, upon truth, upon the Word of God; if they are perplexed and plagued by the intrusion of evil things which fill them with misgiving--let me urge them to ask God to "cleanse the thoughts of their hearts by the inspiration of his Holy Spirit, that they may perfectly love him and worthily magnify his holy name." (From F. B. Meyer: The Directory of the Devout Life)

 

Matthew 6:23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: ean de ho ophthalmos sou poneros e, (3SPAS) holon to soma sou skoteinon estai. (3SFMI) ei oun to phos to en soi skotos estin, (3SPAI) to skotos poson.
Amplified: But if your eye is unsound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the very light in you [your conscience] is darkened, how dense is that darkness! (Amplified Bible - Lockman)

KJV: But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!
NLT: But an evil eye shuts out the light and plunges you into darkness. If the light you think you have is really darkness, how deep that darkness will be!  (
NLT - Tyndale House)
Philips:  But if your eye is evil, your whole body will be full of darkness. If all the light you have is darkness, it is dark indeed!" (
New Testament in Modern English)
Wuest:  But if your eye be diseased, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light which is in you is darkness, the darkness, how great. (
Wuest: Expanded Translation: Eerdmans)

Young's Literal: but if thine eye may be evil, all thy body shall be dark; if, therefore, the light that is in thee is darkness--the darkness, how great!

But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness: ean de ho ophthalmos sou poneros e, (3SPAS) holon to soma sou skoteinon estai. (3SFMI) (Mt 20:15; Isaiah 44:18-20; Mark 7:22; Ephesians 4:18; 5:8; 1John 2:11)

Bad (4190) (poneros from pónos = labor, sorrow, pain) means evil in active opposition to good. Poneros is actively harmful.

 

Darkness (4655) (skoteinos from skotos from skia = shadow) refers to physical darkness or as used here figuratively spiritual or intellectual darkness. When our spiritual eyes are clouded by greed, there is nothing but darkness.

 

The idea of haplous in Mt 6:22 is "singleness of purpose". Thus one who has a "clear" eye looks with singleness of purpose to fulfilling God's will whereas a person with an evil eye focuses not on what God wants, but what he wants. He relies upon himself rather than trusting God. Instead of experiencing God's light, he wan­ders in darkness, seeking his own way rather than God's revelation

 

J I Packer wrote that...

 

laying up treasure on earth is dangerous because such treasure destroys spiritual awareness. If your eyes are filled with light and working properly, your body will be able to move easily and safely. If you can’t see clearly, you will lack physical ease and poise. Similarly, if your heart is possessed by what this world and this life offers, you will not be able to see spiritual issues clearly, and when you read the Bible, its full meaning will escape you. (Packer, J: our Father Loves You: Daily Insights for Knowing God. 1986. Harold Shaw Pub)

If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness: ei oun to phos to en soi skotos estin, (3SPAI) to skotos poson  (Mt 23:16-28; Proverbs 26:12; Isaiah 5:20,21; 8:20; Jeremiah 4:22; 8:8,9; Luke 8:10; John 9:39, 40, 41; Romans 1:22; 2:17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23; 1Corinthians 1:18, 19, 20; 2:14; 3:18,19; Revelation 3:17,18)

William MacDonald explains the somewhat enigmatic verses (Mt 6:22-23) writing that...

The good eye belongs to the person whose motives are pure, who has a single desire for God’s interests, and who is willing to accept Christ’s teachings literally. His whole life is flooded with light. He believes Jesus’ words, he forsakes earthly riches, he lays up treasures in heaven, and he knows that this is the only true security. On the other hand, the bad eye belongs to the person who is trying to live for two worlds. He doesn’t want to let go of his earthly treasures, yet he wants treasures in heaven too. The teachings of Jesus seems impractical and impossible to him. He lacks clear guidance since he is full of darkness.  Jesus adds the statement that if therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! In other words, if you know that Christ forbids trusting earthly treasures for security, yet you do it anyway, then the teaching you have failed to obey becomes darkness—a very intense form of spiritual blindness. You cannot see riches in their true perspective.  (MacDonald, W., & Farstad, A. Believer's Bible Commentary : Old and New Testaments. Nashville: Thomas Nelson)

John MacArthur sums up spiritual eyesight writing that...

If our eye is bad, however, if it is diseased or damaged, no light can enter, and the whole body will be full of darkness. If our hearts are encumbered with material concerns they become “blind” and insensitive to spiritual concerns. The eye is like a window which, when clear, allows light to shine through, but, when dirty, or bad, prevents light from entering. Poneros (bad) usually means evil, as it is translated here in the King James Version. In the Septuagint (Greek Old Testament) it is often used in translating the Hebrew expression “evil eye,” a Jewish colloquialism that means grudging, or stingy (see Deut. 15:9, “hostile”; Pr 23:6, “selfish”). “A man with an evil eye,” for example, is one who “hastens after wealth” (Pr 28:22). The eye that is bad is the heart that is selfishly indulgent. The person who is materialistic and greedy is spiritually blind. Because he has no way of recognizing true light, he thinks he has light when he does not. What is thought to be light is therefore really darkness, and because of the self-deception, how great is the darkness! The principle is simple and sobering: the way we look at and use our money is a sure barometer of our spiritual condition. (MacArthur, J: Matthew 1-7 Macarthur New Testament Commentary Chicago: Moody Press)

Spurgeon preaching on Mt 6:22,23 observes that...

THIS sentence has in it the nature of a proverb. It is well worthy of frequent quotation, as it is applicable to such various circumstances. It is one of the most pithy, sententious (characterized by or full of aphorisms, terse pithy sayings, or axioms) utterances of our Saviour. So full of meaning is it, that it would be utterly impossible for us to draw out all its analogies. It is capable of adaptation to so many different things, that the ablest commentators despair of being able to give you the whole of its fulness. But remark, that very much of the meaning is to be discovered by the use; as the varieties of our personal experience, furnish varieties of practical reflection.

 

For example, we may interpret the passage of conscience as the eye of the soul, —conscience must be clear and simple. If the conscience, which is the candle of the Lord, and which searcheth the secret parts of the belly, be not light but darkness, how great must the darkness be! If a man has not enough conscience to know darkness from light and light from darkness, and he puts bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter; if that only power, on which seem to tremble some rays of the ancient light of manhood, be darkened, —if the lighthouse be quenched, if the windows be sealed up, —how great, indeed, must be the darkness of man! We cannot wonder, when once a man has a depraved and seared conscience, that he runs into iniquity willingly, commits sin with both hands, and goes from step to step till he obtains the highest seat in the scale of sin.

 

The symbol of the eye here may also refer to the understanding, taken in a yet broader sense than as the conscience; for, I suppose, that conscience is, after all, but the understanding exercised about moral truth. If the understanding of man be dark, how dark must be man’s soul! If that which judges, and weighs, and tests; if that which is to us the teacher, the recorder of the town of Mansoul; if that be amiss, if the recorder make wrong entries, if the understanding hath bad scales and useth divers weights, how gross, indeed, must be the ignorance of man! What! Seal up the windows of the house; surely the thickness of the walls will not so much keep away the light as the sealing up of the windows.

 

Let but the understanding be enlightened, and the rays will diffuse themselves, and illuminate every faculty of the whole man: but, ah, if it be darkened, man is in darkness as respects all his powers.

 

Yet again, the term “eye” may also respect the heart; for, in some sense, the heart is the eye of the soul. The affections turn the man in a certain direction, and whither the affections go the eye is turned. There is such a connection between the heart and the eye of man, that well might this text have such a reference. If the affections be pure, the man will be pure; but if the affections themselves be perverted, debased, degraded, we need not marvel that the man’s whole life should be degraded, debased, and filthy too.

 

You see the aptness of the proverb by the numerous moral truths it may serve to illustrate; but time will only allow me to take it in more than one or two aspects, and may God bless what I shall have to say to all our hearts. (Read the rest of his message on Matthew 6:22, 23 A Single Eye and Simple Faith - Pdf)

Matthew 6:19-24

F. B. Meyer has the following message entitled...

THE DISCIPLES' USE OF MONEY
(Matt. 6:19-24.)

THERE are two things which distort our eye-sight, i, e., which hinder the pure intention of the soul: the one is the temptation of the prosperous and well-to-do; the other of the poor, reminding us of the seed that was sown among the thorns. "This is he that heareth the word, and the cares of this world (this is the temptation of the poor and struggling), and the deceitfulness of riches (this is the temptation of those who are endeavouring or beginning to obtain property), choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful."

It is of the temptations which accrue in dealing with money that we have now to speak. Our message is to those who, to use the words of the Apostle, desire to be rich. These are they who "fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition" (1 Tim. 6:9).

Our Lord, first, alludes' to the ephemeral 'and destructible character of earthly riches. Oriental wealth consisted largely of magnificently embroidered dresses; and in a land where there were no banks (in our sense of the term), coin would be buried in the earth, often, as in the case of Achan, in a hole dug within the precincts of the house. We are reminded also of the parable of our Lord about the hidden treasure in the field, the owner of which had no idea of the buried wealth that lay beneath the surface of the soil, until the ploughshare came into collision with it, and the metallic ring indicated that he should stay his oxen in order to disentomb the jar of coins, hidden when invasion swept the country, and which the proprietor never returned to claim.

Our Lord remands His hearers that moth or rust will destroy all earthly treasures, and that thieves may at any moment break through the slight clay walls of their homes and carry off their hoarded stores. And surely His words are capable of an extended reference to that "crowned and sceptred thief," who shall one day dig through the clay walls of our mortal house, and take from us the raiment in which we have been attired, the wealth we may have amassed, the shares that stand in our name, the lands that we have purchased at such cost, sending us forth naked and despoiled, stripped of everything, into a world where we shall land as paupers, because we shall have failed to lay up treasure there.

Our Lord could not for a moment have meant to denounce every kind of saving. For instance, the Apostle Paul enjoins on parents the duty of laying up for their children (2Cor 12:14). It is surely right for us to take advantage of the great laws of life insurance that we may make a reasonable and moderate provision against old age, and especially that we should, by a small annual payment, secure for those who may survive us an adequate competence. I seriously think that every young man and woman should, in the early years of their life, commence to pay into one of our large insurance offices, so that at the age of fifty-five, or sixty, a sum may be forthcoming which will be of use to them in their declining years, the same sum being paid to mother, wife, or sister, in case of their premature death; and I cannot for a moment believe that the spirit or letter of our Lord's words contradict this item of Christian economics.

It seems also certain that there is nothing in these words of the Master to prohibit the setting apart of a certain sum as capital, which may be used for the development of business, and therefore in the employment of a large number of operatives. Nothing seems to me more beneficent than that a manufacturer should add to his capital, and therefore to his machinery and yearly output, for all this means the widening of his influence and the provision of work to larger numbers of men, women, girls, and lads, the more especially if he contributes to the building up of some garden city, free from the facilities of drink, free from the confinement of the great city, free from the vices which are incident to every great aggregation of humanity, where every home is within sight of trees and flowers, where every working man has his plot of land, and where the children breathe fresh health-giving air.

But neither of these methods of laying aside money is contrary to our Lord's injunction, "Treasure not treasures upon the earth." What He forbids is the amassing of money, not for the use we make of it, not for the securing of our loved ones from anxiety, but for its own sake, to such an extent as that the endeavour to hoard engrosses affections which ought to be fixed on nobler and diviner things, and leads to the concentration of the whole being upon the growing balance in the bank or the increase of Real Estate. In the judgment of eternity it is altogether unworthy of an immortal being to imperil his highest interests, his vision of God, his spiritual power, his peace and blessedness, for things which are so lightly held and easily lost as riches. Granted that the things for which men strive are no longer to be destroyed by moth and rust, or stolen by the night thief, yet the uncertainty of riches is proverbial; at any moment they may take to themselves wings and fly away. A panic on the Stock Exchange, depreciation in the value of securities, some new invention, the diversion of trade from one port to another, or the competition of the foreigner, may in a very brief space cause the carefully hoarded winnings of our lifetime to crumble and subside like the Venice Campanile.

Our Lord might with good reason have denounced the practice of laying up treasure because of the temptation which the desire to gain it involves. When a young man enters life with the one intention of making a fortune as quickly as he can, he is almost sure to begin making it according to the maxims and practices which prevail in the world around him. From afar he sees the goal that beckons, and he is tempted to take the shortest cut to reach it, along a road strewn thick with lies and roguery, with lost reputations and blasted characters. That road is taken by myriads in the mad rush to become rich, irrespective of the misery which may be involved to others, and the injury which is being wrought for themselves. Well may our Lord describe riches as "the unrighteous mammon" (Luke 16:11). Therefore, with the utmost urgency one would reiterate to all who are commencing life, in the words with which the great Apostle to the Gentiles closed one of the last Epistles: "Charge them that are rich in this present world, that they be not high-minded, nor have their hope set on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy."

The amassing of treasure by His disciples

Let us turn now to the reasons which our Lord adduces for His urgent prohibition against the amassing of treasure by His disciples.

First, the hoarding of money
induces an inordinate love for it.

"Where thy treasure is, there will thy heart be also." There is a strong temptation to the most devout man who begins his life consecrated to God and to the best service of his fellows, when he sees money beginning to accumulate in his possession, to be attracted from the main object of life to his rising pile. Let young business men who bear the name of Christ test themselves, and ask whether their hearts are not being insensibly stolen away. They may not be aware of what is happening. Grey hairs are becoming plentifully strewn upon their heads without their knowing it. The fascination of money is one of the strongest in the whole world. It is almost impossible to handle it, whether it has come down as an inheritance from the past, or has been gained by successful trading in the present, without coming to like it for its own sake, to congratulate oneself when it increases, and to scheme for its further accumulation. Thus the heart becomes unconsciously bound by ever-tightening chains, as the balloon filled with the light gas, and meant to hold commerce with the clouds, chafes at the strong hawsers by which it is held to the earth.

It is not difficult for onlookers to discern the process by which the heart is being weaned away from the Unseen and the Eternal to the temporal and transient. There is a slackening of interest in religious worship and Christian service; an absorption amid the home-circle which shows that the heart is no longer there; a reluctance to part with money that used once to be freely given for home and foreign missions. It becomes increasingly difficult to engage the attention in anything which involves the diversion of time or thought from the bank, the factory, or the store. The process is very subtle; but, on the comparison of years, those who love the tempted and fascinated nature, shake their heads gravely as they realize that the heart is being betrayed to its ruin, and that another life will soon be cast beneath the wheels of the terrible Juggernaut Car of worldly ambition and success.

There are five tests by which we may become aware whether this parasite is wrapping itself around us. Let us dare to question our hearts, and ask God to search them by His Holy Spirit. These five will suffice:

(1) Do we find our mind going towards the little store of money which we have made, with a considerable amount of complacency, casting up again and again its amount, and calculating how much more may be added in the course of another year? When we are sleepless at night, or sit back in the corner of our railway carriage, do we find ourselves habitually going in the one direction of that growing competence? If so, is it not clear that our heart is being fascinated and attracted?

(2) Does the thought constantly intrude in our mind that there is now less likelihood than ever of our spending the end of our days in a respectable workhouse, or being dependent upon others, even upon God Himself? Do we look back upon the days of early manhood and compare them with the present, feeling that we are becoming independent? Is our trust in God less complete than it used to be? Is there not danger, therefore, of our weak and deceitful heart trusting in these uncertain riches, and being robbed of that simple faith which used to be the charm of earlier days, when we were content to do His work and trust Him for all that was necessary?

(3) Do we envy other men who are making money more rapidly than we are, and count ourselves ill-used if we cannot keep pace with them?

(4) Do we look at every service we perform, at our extending knowledge of men, at every new piece of information that we gather, in the light of their monetary advantage?

(5) Is it our habit to measure the gains of the year simply by what we have made, and with no reference to what we are, to the money we have accumulated, rather than the good we have done?

It becomes us to ask ourselves such questions as these reverently, as in the sight of God, and thoughtfully for our own highest interests, for they will reveal to us almost certainly whether the slow poison of an absorbing love of money may not he stealing through our heart, robbing it of its noblest attributes. It is a terrible thing for us to love gold for its own sake, rather than for the use that we may make of it, because the heart is liable to become like that which it loves. Not only is the heart buried in the place where the treasure is, but the heart becomes like the treasure. Ossification is a terrible physical disease, when the heart turns to a hard, bony substance; but it has a spiritual counterpart for those beneath whose love for gold the heart shrivels into something little better than metal.

The second reason, hoarding money
diverts the pure intention of the soul.

It is not necessary for us to dwell at length on the second reason which our Lord adduces against treasuring our treasures, viz., that hoarding money diverts the pure intention of the soul and blinds all spiritual light. We all know that faith is only possible for the pure heart. The faculty of spiritual vision and receptivity depends upon the simplicity and integrity of our moral life. When, therefore, the heart is filled with thoughts of its earthly riches, it becomes gross and insensible to the spiritual and eternal realm. Things of God fade from the vision, the love of God declines from the heart, the soul is no longer single in its purpose, the eye becomes dim, the, spiritual force abated, moral paralysis sets in, and the whole body becomes full of darkness, under the cover of which evil things creep forth. Oh, do not let your spiritual eyes become dazzled by the glitter of this world's goods, lest you be unable, like Bunyan's man with the muck-rake, to see the angel who, with golden crown in hand, waits to bless you. Instead of crouching over the heap of transient treasure, rise to your full stature, and claim the crown that fadeth not away!

Third reason, hoarding money enslaves.

The third reason that our Lord adduces is that hoarding money finally enslaves. He says that "No man can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon." He employs two significant words, the one, Mammon (an old Chaldaic word for the god of wealth); the other, to serve, the subjection of the slave to the caprice of an owner. Our Lord puts in juxtaposition the two masters, God the Beneficent Father, and Mammon the god of wealth, and says everyone must choose between them. Whichever you elect to serve will become the supreme dominating force in your life, giving you no option, save the obedience of a slave.

Notice then the peril of the Christian man who is falling under the sway of covetousness which the Apostle calls idolatry (Col. 3:5-note; Eph. 5:5-note). At the end of the process, be it longer or shorter, he will renounce entirely the service of God, and become the slave of money-making. The slightest acquaintance with commercial circles will give evidence of the tyranny of Mammon, which compels its abject slaves to toil day and night, demands the sacrifice of love and health, of home enjoyments and natural pleasures, insists that every interest shall be subordinate to its all-consuming service, and at the end of life casts its votary, bankrupt and penniless, upon the shores of eternity. Drink itself, stripping men of everything worth living for, is not more to be dreaded.

What then is the alternative to this prohibited hoarding of money? Are we to give away promiscuously and to everyone that asks? I confess I have no faith in this indiscriminate giving which demoralizes him who gives and him who receives; which creates a plentiful harvest of loafers and ne'er-do-wells, to the detriment of the thrifty and industrious poor, and which satisfies the sentiment of pity by a lazy dole, when it ought to set itself to a radical amelioration of the suppliant beggar. It is comparatively fruitless to give a meal here and there, without endeavouring, by practical sympathy and helping hand, to assist families by putting them in the way of helping themselves. This is what is needed; and to put one individual, or houseful, in the way of standing upon their own feet and securing their own livelihood, is immensely more important than to furnish temporary relief, that supplies the need of to-day, but makes no permanent alteration in the circumstances of to-morrow or of the future. It is much more difficult to use our money thoughtfully and thriftily to help others than to place half-a-crown or a sovereign in their hands. Here, for instance, is a poor woman, whose case appeals to your sympathy.

It is, of course, quite easy to give her a few shillings and to dismiss her from your mind, but the noblest thing would be to secure her a sewing-machine or a mangle, thus furnishing her with the opportunity of self-help. It is quite as important not to give money indiscriminately as it is not to hoard. The ideal method of life is to use what you have to help others, to regard your possession of money as a stewardship for the welfare of the world, and to consider yourself a trustee for all who need. Instead of letting your dresses hang in the wardrobe, give them to the respectable poor whose own are threadbare, that they may be able to occupy suitably the position on which their livelihood depends. This is the best way of keeping them free from moth. Whatever you have in the way of books, recreation, spare rooms, elegantly furnished homes, look upon them all as so many opportunities of helping and blessing others.

If you are in business, at the end of the year put aside what is needed for the maintenance of your family in the position to which God has called them; next, put aside what may be required for the development of your business; third, be sure that by a system of life insurance you are providing for the failure of old age; but when all this is done, look upon the remainder as God's, to be used for Him. Never give God less than a tenth, but give Him as much more as possible. If you have money by inheritance, you have no right to give that away or squander it; but pass it down as you received it, always considering, if you will, that the interest is God's, awaiting your administration as His steward and trustee.

Let every Christian adopt the principle of giving a certain proportion of the income to the cause of Christ, and whenever the fascination of money begins to assert itself, instantly make a handsome donation to some needy cause. Every time the temptation comes to look at money from a selfish standpoint, meet it by looking up to God and saying, "I thank Thee that Thou hast given me these things richly to enjoy, and desire wisdom and grace to use them for Thee and Thine."

What will be the result of a spiritual attitude like this? Ah, the full blessedness cannot be put in words, but this you will find, you will have treasure in heaven, for what you invest in ministering to others is capital laid up in God's Bank, the interest of which will always be accruing to you. I have a very distinct belief that actual interest comes from money which is being invested in doing good; and at last those we have helped will welcome us into the eternal mansions (Luke 16:9). Moreover, your heart will be increasingly fixed where your treasure is, in the Unseen and the Eternal. Your eye will be single, your life harmonious, your hold upon earthly things slender, your love for your Master, Christ, becoming a passion. Ultimately you will find that the yearning which you used to have for selfish satisfaction and comfort will pass away, as the blessing of Him that was ready to perish falls upon your head, and the thanks of the widow and orphan anticipate the "Well done!" of your Lord. (1.1) (The Directory of the Devout Life)

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Last Updated July, 2013

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