How Are You Looking?

In this last Sunday’s sermon, the pastor pointed to a Semitic idiom embedded in the Old Testament lectionary reading—there in Proverbs 22:9.  While the English reads, “the generous person will be blessed [because he gave us his bread to the poor],” the Hebrew text (emphasizing and incorporating that idiom) literally reads, “he who has a good eye will be a blessed [ because…].”

eye chartApparently, there’s a connection between having a good eye – or seeing well – and being generous… and being blessed.

The generous person, it seems to me, has a good eye — seeing rightly/correctly that…


  • all the good gifts we enjoy come from God




  • all people are children of God, worthy of his grace and love




  • all places are sanctuaries of the Divine




  • all times are portals of worship


Conversely, those with a bad eye (and, here, going to church provides no immunity) view life with a certain myopia or distortion.


  • Rich and poor alike can suffer from an entitlement mentality… “I deserve what is mine“




  • Even so, people and places and times can be segregated and categorized and assigned different valuations – so that some places are more “sanctuary“ than others, some times are more “worshipful“ than others, and some people are more worthy/precious than others.


Jesus said, “the eye is the lamp of the soul.“  And, while I’m still trying to figure out it’s full meaning, it seems to me that he was speaking (at least, in part) of this connection between the content of our souls and the nature and quality of how we view things in life. “The eye is the spotlight of the soul,” he might have said. “What our eyes see — i.e., what we shine our attention on — is a reflection of our internal wiring.”

Fortunately, God is in the business of rewiring us.

No, it’s not easy.

Yes, it can and does take a lot of time.

Still, incomplete as I am,
I relish, already, the ways I am looking better and better —
seeing more clearly
this heaven-crammed earth,
filled with burning bushes… 1
and Jesus abounding all around
in all his many distressing disguises.2 (cf., Matthew 25:31-46)

To return to the proverb:
having good eyes — seeing well,…
It is truly the grounds for blessing and being greatly blessed!

1 cf., Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “Aurora Leigh”
2 cf., Mother Teresa

posted by Jim Reiter on September 11, 2018

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