A popular adage says that the eyes are a window to the soul, meaning that the eyes reflect the goings on in our souls. Jesus, too, alludes to the power of the human eyes to not only reflect but determine the state of a person’s health. He likens the eye to a lamp:
“Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is unhealthy, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is” (Matt 6:22-23).
Jesus distinguishes between a healthy eye and an unhealthy eye. A healthy eye is not paranoid. It is not quick to judge what it sees and is always ready to give the benefit of doubt. A healthy eye knows that there is usually more to a situation than meets the eye (pun intended). When our eyes are healthy, we are gracious and merciful towards others. We are not easily offended.
An unhealthy eye is suspicious of everything. It is distrustful and quick to rush to judgment, to take everything at face value or imagine things that aren’t real. An unhealthy eye is not compassionate and does not consider that there could be more to a story. An unhealthy eye will write you off in a second.
So how healthy are your eyes? How well do you see and how do you react to what you see? Are you quick to take offense or are you quick to extend grace?
It may be a glance, a certain tone of voice, a careless word or the inflection of a certain word and offense quickly takes root. Soon relationships break down, hurtful words are traded, and months roll into years without a resolution. Many times, the disintegration of a relationship is the result of an erroneous perception. For example, you unexpectedly run into a friend. Your face lights up with recognition and you approach her with a smile, ready to share pleasantries about your lives. As you approach her, she greets you casually and walks past you. What is your first reaction? Are you immediately offended and begin to wonder why she has practically ignored you? Are you reminded of a similar incident in the past when she behaved the same way? Do you decide that you have had enough and will mind your business next time? If these are some of the thoughts that might pass through your mind, Jesus says your eye is unhealthy and “your whole body is filled with darkness.”
Let us replay that scene again. If your eye is healthy, then your perception of your friend’s actions will be different because “your whole body is filled with light.” You will not be quick to judge her actions as a dismissal of you. You will find her behavior odd, but you will also be concerned about her. You will wonder if she is having a difficult day, week, month. You will wonder what matters are weighing heavily on her mind. You may even consider whether you unintentionally offended her the last time you were together. And because your eye is healthy, you will look for an opportunity to connect, to clarify, to seek peace and to heal.
In the Beatitudes (Matt. 5), Jesus taught about the blessings that accompany peace-makers and those who extend mercy to others. He said that if you are merciful, you will obtain mercy when you need it. If you are a peacemaker, you will be called the son or daughter of God because He is your Father, Jehovah Shalom, the God of Peace Himself. You can only extend mercy and seek peace if you perceive your world through healthy eyes because healthy eyes mean a body (spirit, soul and body) that is healthy and filled with light. Then you will be able to be the light that shines in a dark world, a city set on a hill that cannot be hidden (Matt 5:14).
Therefore, let your light so shine before men and women so that they may see your good works which stem from a light-filled body (Matt. 5:16). As a result, they will give all the glory to your Father in heaven.