4. How are we affected by the condition of the eye?
4 The extent to which the eye can serve as a lamp to the body, however, depends largely on the condition of the eye. For this reason, Jesus went on to say: “If, then, your eye is simple, your whole body will be bright; but if your eye is wicked, your whole body will be dark. If in reality the light that is in you is darkness, how great that darkness is!” (Matthew 6:22, 23) From this we can see the tremendous influence that the eye exerts on our entire life course, for good or for bad.
11. Explain the terms “simple” and “wicked” in Jesus’ statement about the eye.
11 Confronted daily with such an array of eye-appealing distractions, we can appreciate all the more why Jesus Christ admonished us to keep our eye “simple” and not “wicked.” (Matthew 6:22, 23) What does that mean? “Simple” here is translated from the Greek word ha·plousʹ, which basically means singleness of mind or devotion to one purpose. On the other hand, “wicked” in the original Greek is po·ne·rosʹ and has the meaning of bad, worthless, evil. Thus, the ‘simple eye,’ rather than being distracted or sidetracked by everything that is going on, focuses its attention on only one thing. By contrast, the ‘wicked eye’ is shifty, crafty, and covetous, and is drawn to things shady and dark.
12. Review and explain the context of Jesus’ discussion.
12 But what should the eye focus on so that the “whole body will be bright”? A consideration of the context will help us to find the answer. In the preceding verses, Jesus was talking about “treasures upon the earth” and “treasures in heaven.” He said that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Then, after discussing the eye, he again emphasized the need to show singleness of purpose, saying: “No one can slave for two masters,” God and Riches. In the following verses, he offered counsel on one’s view of the daily necessities and concluded with the admonition: “Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.”—Matthew 6:19-34.
13. On what should we focus our eye so that our “whole body will be bright”? Why?
13 What can we glean from all of this? Jesus is here talking about goals in life, pointing out the futility of the pursuit of material things and the blessing of cultivating interest in spiritual matters. Clearly, he is telling us that by focusing our eyes singly on Kingdom interests, our “whole body will be bright.” Why? Because if we make the doing of God’s will our goal in life, we will seek to reflect the glorious good news in every aspect of our lives. Not only can we look forward to a bright future but we can also be freed from the dark and underhanded things produced by a life devoted to selfish pursuits.—2 Corinthians 4:1-6.
14. How does focusing one’s eye on material riches result in “darkness”?
14 The apostle Paul reinforced Jesus’ words when he explained: “Those who are determined to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and many senseless and hurtful desires, which plunge men into destruction and ruin.” (1 Timothy 6:9) There surely is substance to these words! The news is full of stories about senators, mayors, judges, bankers, corporate executives, and others who have been caught in white-collar crimes that, according to one report, “rake in a minimum of 200 billion dollars annually” in the United States alone. The ‘temptation and snare’ of becoming rich have turned many once respectable individuals into felons and criminals. Surely, we want to avoid being ‘plunged into destruction and ruin,’ experiencing the “darkness” about which Jesus warned.—See Proverbs 23:4, 5.
15, 16. (a) What other “desire of the eyes” must we shun? (b) How would you apply the counsel at Proverbs 27:20 to our discussion?
15 However, is it only those who set their eye on becoming rich that face the danger of walking in darkness? No, for “the desire of the eyes” also includes many other things. Recall Jesus’ words at Matthew 5:28: “Everyone that keeps on looking at a woman so as to have a passion for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Surely, that warning can also be applied to allowing one’s eyes to dwell on material that is designed to excite or arouse illicit passions and desires.
16 Then there is the anxiety over food, drink, and clothing that Jesus spoke about. (Matthew 6:25-32) While these things are necessary, an inordinate desire always to have the latest, the richest, the most sought after, can enslave our mind and heart. (Romans 16:18; Philippians 3:19) Even in recreation, hobbies, sports, exercise, and so on, we must maintain proper balance and guard against being caught up in the fads and fancies of the world. In all these areas, it would be good for us to bear in mind the wise words found at Proverbs 27:20: “Sheol and the place of destruction themselves do not get satisfied; neither do the eyes of a man get satisfied.” Indeed, we need to exercise self-control so that in trying to satisfy our eyes we do not endanger ourselves spiritually.