“22 The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! 24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” Matthew 6:19-21 (NKJV)
The story is told of the pastor who was traveling from Rochester NY east to his home in Georgetown NY. If you know New York State at all, especially in winter, there is a rule about the weather: if you don’t like the weather you have in the morning, just wait! By noon it will be different! Well, Pastor Ken left Rochester on the main Interstate 90, and it was raining. Pretty soon the temperature dropped, and the rain turned to sleet. And what do you know! Not too long afterwards, the sleet turned to…SNOW! When Pastor Ken got off I-90 to head south to Georgetown, he was completely in the DARK! He pulled off the road and discovered that his headlights were completely covered in 2 inches of…ICE! When he cleared off the ice, guess WHAT? He could see clearly! And then he could safely drive HOME!
Verses 22-24 are the foundation for the rest of this chapter. They develop a principle, which principle is followed by 3 simple but profound fruits.
PRINCIPLE: The eye is the lamp of the whole body – what we look at and what we let in to our mind.
Have you read 1 John 2:15-17 lately? Here this passage is:
“15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”
This leads us to FRUIT #1: A focused eye produces a fruitful life (v. 22)
The old King James uses a word which is quite foreign to today’s Bible student. Verse 22 in the King James reads, “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.” The word “single” [or “good” in the New King James Version] is from the Greek word, “haplous”. It is defined as “having a focus of purpose”. It is also translated as “pure” (The Living Bible) and “sound” (Amplified Version).
In my first charge in a small country church town, we lived in an 100 year old parsonage (come to think of it, in my SECOND charge we lived in a parsonage built in 1894!). We lived across the street from the neighborhood farmer and his wonderful wife. And with his barn came, well, mice and rats. Well let me tell you! We had a black and white cat named “Callie” who understood “haplous” very well! He would post himself in one of the doorways near the door to the garage. He would brace himself. And then? He would wait, and wait, and…all of a sudden there was this POUNCE! And the poor helpless animal became another victim that Callie proudly displayed for his parents – us! You see, Callie was SINGLE AND VERY HAPPY! The parsonage life in a farming community was the life for him!
But what if you used that focus – not to pounce on people (or mice or rats, for that matter!) – but on personal holiness? Proverbs 11:25 says, “The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself.” To “be made rich” is wonderfully translated elsewhere as “be made fat” (KJV), “be blessed” (Septuagint – the OT Greek), “enriched” (Amplified), and “rich” (Living Bible).
Isn’t that what we want, what we hunger for? God wants to create, and we are hungry, to be a spiritual man who sees things just the way they are, and responds in a way that reflects the Savior upon Whom he is focused! Which leads us to…
FRUIT #2: An unfocused eye, beyond being unfruitful, is DARK – an instrument for the devil’s use (v. 23).
“Dark” or “darkness” means “blurry”. Literally, it means “having double vision”
Blurred by WHAT??? How about: Sin. Lusts. Desires. Prejudices. The world’s standards.
The Bible says we are to “love one another” (John 13:34-35 AND 21 other references!) and we are to “hate evil” (Psalm 97:10 AND 2 others). The world says that all men are inherently good. So it is possible for the Christian with the unfocused eye to live in the fear of the world rather than in the fear of the Lord. It is possible for the unfocused Christian to have a fear of what the world will think of him, a fear of being misunderstood. As a result, he is, well, USELESS for the Lord!
Let’s look at an amazing Biblical example. One of Paul’s co-workers was a fellow named DEMAS. We learn of him directly in 3 passages: Col. 4:14, Philemon 1:24, and 2 Tim. 4:10. To the Colossians and to Philemon, Paul referred to Demas as working along with Paul’s personal physician, Luke. Further, Paul considered Demas a “fellow laborer.” 2 Timothy 4is believed to be the last chapter Paul ever wrote before he went home to glory. What does v. 10 say about Demas?
“for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica…” [my emphasis]. What a sad commentary about someone who at one time was one of Paul’s trusted fellow servants. Demas is a perfect example of FRUIT #2: he had an unfocused eye, a DARK eye. He was no longer of use for the Savior. And if THAT is true, for whom is he useful? Hmmm…
Finally, there is FRUIT #3: a focused eye gives true DIRECTION (service) in what really matters most (v. 24)
The great American writer, Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) had a thought about verse 24. He said, “this verse is a proof text against Mormonism and their old belief in having more than one wife. For the verse says, “no man can serve TWO masters.” (Groan…)
Lehman Strauss was one of the greatest authors and speakers that God used throughout the later years of the last century. He had no car and no house. He said, “those tie me down.” He commented that as a result, he was completely yielded to serve!
Both the Old and the New Testament say that the follower of the Lord is to “love the Lord with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength”. God never said that we can’t have THINGS. He doesn’t want THINGS to have US, thus blinding our service for Him.
AS WE CLOSE:
There is the story of the farmer whose prize cow gave birth to 2 calves: one red, and one white, He proclaims to his wife, “when the time comes, I will sell one and keep the proceeds to live on, and then I will sell the other and give the proceeds to the Lord’s work. She asked him, “which one will you live on, and which one will you use to help the Lord’s work?” He wisely replied, “We won’t bother to decide now – we’ll treat both the same.”
A few months later, the farmer says to his wife, “The Lord’s calf is dead.” The wife reminds him, “but you never decided which is the Lord’s calf.”
“Yes,” the farmer replied. “The red cow was always to be the Lord’s calf.”
THE MORAL OF THE STORY: the Lord’s calf always dies.
That is the heart of this passage in Matthew 6:22-24. The singular heart is the one which has died to self and lives focused only on the Savior.
And you know what? The heart focused only on the Savior is…SINGLE AND QUITE HAPPY!
Am I really? Are you?