Matthew 6:22-23 - The Lust of the Eyes

Jesus said: “The eye is the lamp of 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!”

Jesus says our bodies will be full of light if our eyes are healthy. But our bodies will be full of darkness if our eyes are unhealthy. What does Jesus mean by healthy and unhealthy eyes? He can’t be speaking in a medical context, surely. He isn’t. 

In his first letter, John writes: “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world” (1 John 2:15-16).

What is the “lust of the eyes” that John warns about? Simply put, the lust of the eyes is the desire to possess what we see. Our eyes are the entrance to our hearts and minds and, consequently, the gateway to our souls. All the things we see impact our lives significantly because we naturally begin to lust after them. 

Consider, for example, the constant barrage of advertising that greets us whenever we tune into any form of media or the endless deluge of pornography that swamps us from all sides. We are deluded into believing that these things will bring us happiness when in truth, they steal happiness because nothing in the world can truly satisfy us! You undoubtedly know this. 

And the more we see these things — be it in books, movies, or things around us — the more darkness we allow into our hearts and minds, and the darker we become. As Christians, we have the light of Christ in us, but we can obscure that light with darkness, much like covering a lamp with a blanket. 

Let us, therefore, not lust after the things of the world. As John says, “the world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” And when we stop seeking the things of the world, we will become “the light of the world,” just as Christ is (John 8:12, Matthew 5:14). 

May the Spirit be with you.