When I was a child, no one ever told my parents exactly what was wrong with me, just, “She has really bad vision.” As a teenager I began to figure out that it was worse than I thought when my doctor allowed all the student doctors to examine me and give their opinions, then sat back and told them why they were wrong. Then after I married and we moved out of state, I actually had a doctor tell me he wished I had never walked into his office. I never did again.
So how do I see? That groundbreaking surgery on June 13, 2005, which has saved my vision for six extra years now, has left some interesting effects. Depending upon the day, the light, the internal pressure at any particular moment, I have double vision, tunnel vision, blurry vision, foggy vision, white reflections that block most of the view, ghost images, black specks, pale yellow splotches, starbursts, gold concentric circles, a fish-eye lens effect, spinning black and silver pinwheels on the periphery that move toward the front—and shaky equilibrium! .
But I think that makes me understand Jesus’ statement in Matt 6:22 better than most: The lamp of the body is the eye; if therefore, your eye is single, your whole body shall be full of light.
Jesus is talking about focus. What do I focus on, this physical life or the spiritual? The immediate context is the contrast between spiritual treasures and earthly treasure (v 19,20), God and mammon (v 24), the concern for physical needs versus righteousness and the kingdom (v 31-33).
I often become distracted by things that get in the way of my vision. I am down to one eye I am still legal to drive with now, and concentration on the road is important. I have to consciously make an effort to ignore the specks, the splotches, the circles, the starbursts, the reflections, and on days when the blur is too much, I simply cannot drive if I want to avoid a mishap.
In the same way it is easy for our spiritual “eye” to become distracted by all the things in front of us, by a concern for wealth, acceptance, and security, but also by necessities like food, clothing, and shelter--things which certainly are not wrong in themselves. But when that is the thing we focus on, our eye is no longer single but, as Jesus plainly says in verse 23, “evil.” Sooner or later we will have a spiritual “wreck.”
That is probably where Satan gets the majority of us—we have to provide for our families. Worrying about that can actually make us do more than we need to, perhaps even push us over into a covetous attitude of always wanting more, not relying on God, and putting Him and his kingdom so far down on the list that we never even get to it any more. And that means that our “eye” is no longer light but darkness, making us see things in ways that deceive us—we can serve God while we serve this world and its treasures, can’t we?
Jesus appeals to our common sense. Two different things cannot be the “most” important. We have to make a choice—which one comes first? Which one do we focus on? Whom do we serve, God or mammon?
Take it from someone who knows—double vision doesn’t work.
Lay not up for yourselves treasure upon the earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consume, and where thieves do not break through and steal, for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The lamp of the body is the eye; if your eye is single, your whole body shall be full of light. But if your eye is evil, your whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore, the light that is in you becomes darkness, how great is the darkness! No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Matt 6:19-24