How good is your eyesight?

        Specsavers are a British based Opticians business, with a great series of TV ads. Basically, each add features a person doing something stupid because of their poor eyesight and finishes with the tagline ‘Should’ve gone to Specsavers’, which has now become a national catchphrase! 

        Towards the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus has something to say about eyesight:

“The eye is the lamp for the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”    Matthew 6.22-23

      I’ve got two confessions to make. One, I get my glasses from Specsavers! Two, I’ve never really understood these verses…until recently.  What confused me was that they feature in between two short paragraphs about money. It’s as if the gospel writer Matthew has cut and pasted these verse into the wrong part of his account of the Sermon on the Mount. 

      Then I spotted a footnote in my Bible which informed me that the Greek word here for ‘healthy’ implies ‘generous’ and the Greek word here for ‘unhealthy’ implies ‘stingy’ or ‘mean’. That makes much more sense:  ‘If your eyes are generous, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are mean, your whole body will be full of darkness.”

But this still needs some explaining. The Hebrew language used the ‘eye’ in many phrases to describe a person’s attitude to others. So a ‘good eye’ meant to look out for the needs of others, to be generous to the poor, whilst a ‘bad eye’ meant to be greedy and self-centered, blind to the needs of those around you. Even today, Jewish people might talk about ‘giving with a beautiful eye’.

      The concept of seeing or being blind to describe our attitude  and response to the needs of others is a powerful one!  If we have a ‘bad eye’ we are disconnected from the struggles of other people, we cling to what we have, we resent those with more than us, we refuse to help those with less, and deep down we are convinced God can’t provide for us. However, if we have a ‘good eye’ we know God will provide, we act upon his caring presence in our life, we know we have more than enough, and we consistently look beyond ourselves to the needs of others.

    It’s important to have a generous and open handed attitude to money. Caring for others less fortunate than ourselves isn’t just a good habit to cultivate but it is central to our character as followers of Jesus. It’s an opportunity to put our faith into practice. In the Bible, when it states that God ‘hears’ or God ‘sees’ it implies that He is also going to act. God cannot truly see or hear without being moved into action.

    Here at the Awakening Foundation, we are learning what it means to have a ‘good eye’, to see some specific needs in the world around us and be moved into action, making a difference, showing loving kindness and bringing hope and love into a broken and needy world. How good is your eyesight?

         

Lord, let me see the world through your eyes, let me see people the way you see them. May what we see, and who we see, move us to love and care and compassion.

In the name of Jesus, Amen.

Nigel James