The following is a short article that I was asked to write for the January 2009 edition of New Hope magazine. It's aimed at a lay magazine audience, so it simplifies things a bit. I need help on the last paragraph - as it stands, it is too trite. Any suggestions?
Good Eye / Bad Eye
What I love most about being a professor at Pacific Rim Bible College is the opportunity to help young leaders learn how to better interpret and apply the Bible. Today in class, a student asked about a difficult passage from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount: “… if 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” (Matthew 6:22-23). What did Jesus mean?
It turns out that having a “good eye” or a “bad eye” was a common manner of speaking when Jesus taught. The phrase “bad eye” is often translated as “stingy” or “greedy” in other places in the Bible (Deuteronomy 15:9, Proverbs 23:6, Proverbs 28:22, Matthew 20:15). And the word for “good” in this verse is translated as “generous” in some other passages in the Bible (1 Chronicles 29:17, Romans 12:8, James 1:5). So Jesus was using the ordinary language of his day to point out how much better generosity is than stinginess.
If you read this whole section of Jesus’ sermon (Matthew 6:19-34), you can tell that Jesus is giving several key principles about handling our money. First, he tells us that an act of generosity is like making a deposit in heaven (6:19-21). Then he tells us that having a “good eye” (being generous) lights up our whole lives, while having a “bad eye” (being stingy) makes our whole lives dark (6:22-23). Next, he warns us that we must choose God as our master, not money (6:24). Finally, Jesus teaches us how to avoid worry so that we will use our money generously to advance God’s purposes (6:25-34).
We ended our discussion not only with a good Bible lesson, but also with a challenge: am I being generous with the resources God has given me? Do I have a “good eye” or a “bad eye?”
I'm looking forward to your comments and suggestions on the wording of the final paragraph.