The Evil Eye - A Bible Study
We All Have An Evil Eye
Universe is full of evil eyes!
The 'evil' or the 'good' eye
A wave of giggles shifts across the congregation as the ushers hand each attendee a small piece of candy. I say, “Do not eat this candy. I want you to hold it for a while. It will help you remember what I preach this morning.”
“OK, does everyone have a piece of candy?” There is a short pause and I continue, speaking tongue in cheek, “Everyone repeats after me, “Pastor Walt gave me the evil eye, today.” There is a tidal laugh across the church, as they repeat the words. “Now, hold your eyeball candy in your hand and say, “I have an evil eye!” The chuckles begin to die down, as my message begins to penetrate the understanding of the worshipers.
Three initial points:
1. Everyone has an “evil” eye. It is just like the candy you are holding but it is real and spiritual. Spiritually, we all have an evil eye! You may not want to admit it, but you have an evil eye!
2. Everyone has “good” eyes too. Spiritually, we have an evil eye, but we also have good eyes!
3. We have a choice of which eye to use. We can choose not to use our evil eye, and instead use our good eye and be blessed!
Jesus Sermon on the Mount
The Upside Down Parable
Jesus brings this out in His use of a most interesting parable. Remember, a parable is simply a short story told to illustrate a message. This parable I call the “upside down parable,” because everything in it is not what it seems to be! Jesus talks about a fellow having an evil eye!
Mat 20:1-16 For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is a householder, which went out early in the morning to hire laborers into his vineyard. (2) And when he had agreed with the laborers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. (3) And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, (4) And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. (5) Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. (6) And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? (7) They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive. (8) So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the laborers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. (9) And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. (10) But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. (11) And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, (12) Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. (13) But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? (14) Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. (15) Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? (16) So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.
Look again at verse 15:
(15) Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?
We are all invited to work in His vineyard
Be careful little eyes what you see
WHAT IS AN EVIL EYE?
i. The "evil eye" was a jealous, envious eye. The landowner asks the man if he is jealous because the landowner was generous to other people. (From Guzik Commentary)
ii. "An evil eye was a phrase in use, among the ancient Jews, to denote an envious, covetous man or disposition; a man who repined at his neighbor’s prosperity, loved his own money, and would do nothing in the way of charity for God's sake." (From Clarke Commentary)
This commentary gives us a little understanding into what an evil eye is. This man in the parable had his eye on everything except the goodness of the landowner. This parable had its setting in hard times. Recession is always hard, but when recession, depression, unemployment and near homelessness reign, then you can glimpse the meaning of the story. These folks are at the market place hoping, praying, anxious for any work. The Landowner comes Himself into the market place, sees the want and with a good eye knows their want can be met by His need of workers in the vineyard. He is not merely hiring; a foreman could do this. He is helping them and Himself. His beloved vineyard will be cared for and His workers will be provided their needs. He enters the market early and offers a “penny” to the workers. There is no hassle over the pay; it is an accepted laborer’s pay for a day’s work. It is not a miserly penance but a sum of honorable reward to feed a hungry man’s family or meet a part of his debt during a hard time. At their hiring, we hear of no worker complaining over his reward, or over the heat of the day, or the length of the hours. Each worker knows that a job is a privilege, and each is blessed to finds work in such a time.
The Vineyard is like the Kingdom of Heaven
Studying the Parables of Jesus
The Landowner Sees the Need
The Landowner returns to the market throughout the day to see if there are more in need of work. He never fails to hire anyone wanting work; he never considers it ‘pay’ (after the first are hired, he simply told the latter workers, he would just do what was right by them). It is as though with his good eye he could see potential in every unfortunate, and the blessing each could be to His vineyard.
When I think of what Christ means to me, I see myself when I sat in the market place of ideas and philosophies, and life styles with a spiritual hunger for a morsel of real truth that would really satisfy and give meaning to my wretchedness. In my dejection He comes with flaming eyes beholding my woe but also my latent desire to be in His vineyard. From the street of my rejection, He says, “Come unto me, and work in my vineyard!” I left that life of death, and now I live!
Over and over, he returns till the 11th hour. Now, one would think that with only minutes to work, the Landowner would not worry Himself. What good for His darling vineyard could be accomplished with the day near gone. There is so much work in the vineyard toil, and by the time you hire someone and transport them and assign the work, the sun is setting. However, this is the good eye of the Landowner. His good eye sees a man with a family, a man wanting work and still seeking at the 11th hour, someone who may go to bed, if he has one, hungry. “Why are you idle?” He asks. “Because no one has hired us!” is the reply. The Lord of the vineyard is moved to the quick of His compassion, because He knows this is true. Even as at harvest time, the fields are white (or ripe) for the harvest, the marketplace is always full of folks waiting to be hired. This is the nature of that place, and it is the nature of this Landlord to hire everyone who hears his voice.
Good Eye or Evil Eye?
This parable gives a glimpse of what a “good” eye and an “evil” eye are
So, this parable gives a glimpse of what a “good” eye and an “evil” eye are. Now I want to look at a few other Scriptures to go a little deeper.
He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil eye, and considereth not that poverty shall come upon him. (Pro 28:22)
The wise man of Proverbs draws a picture of a person with an evil eye. He sets his attention on accumulating riches without regard of the consequences. The love of money is the root of evil.
Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye, neither desire thou his dainty meats: (Pro 23:6)
And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man. (Mar 7:20-23)
When Jesus referred to the evil eye, the folks knew what he was talking about. I use the term today and we laughed. We laugh because the term today comes to mean one who can project evil with his eye. However, in Bible days it meant “greedy” or “covetous” – someone who could not enjoy others being blessed.
The light (lamp) of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single (Good), thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! (Mat 6:22-23)
Of course, this text is from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. Jesus is saying the eye like a lamp to the body, your spiritual person. If it is good and working right with liberal generosity, then you are full of light. However, if you have an evil eye, that which should be light is great darkness.
if therefore thine eye be single: that is, if thy mind be liberal, generous, and bountiful: for Christ is still upon the same subject of liberality, and against covetousness; and here speaks entirely in the language of the Jews, who could easily understand him; in whose writings we read of three sorts of eyes; a good eye, a middling one, and an evil one; ..., (from Gill Commentary)
He that hath a bountiful (good) eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor. (Pro 22:9)
Web Resources on the parable of the vineyard
- Parables: Parable of The Workers In The Vineyard
- Sermon Notes: Stories Jesus Told: Workers in the Vineyard Matthew 20:1-16 Jnauary 10, 2010
- Bible Study Lessons Sermon Outline, Bible Lesson. The Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard
- Sermon Outlines - The Parables Of Jesus - The Laborers In The Vineyard (Mt 20:1-16)
- Laborers in the Vineyard
The Upside Down Parable
It is not totally original with me, but I call this parable, the upside down parable. I say upside down because nothing in it is as it seems.
First, it is not a picture of a vineyard, but of the Kingdom
of heaven. The reader is prone to think
of a story about a vineyard, but this is the Kingdom of Christ. It is told with a shock value of surprises to
wake us to the very nature of the Church of Christ. Any business would fold, paying its entire
workforce the same regardless of position or hours. However, this is not any business; it is the Master's vineyard, His Church!
Secondly, it is not a picture of a landowner, but of Christ Himself who enters the marketplace and personally bids any and all to come into His vineyard.
Thirdly, our sympathies naturally lie with the first workers who weather the heat of the day, but received the same as the latter workers. Here is where the good and evil eyes come into the story. Our natural sympathies are wrong because our eyes focus on the first and not the last. The Master’s sympathies are focused equally toward all those in the marketplace. He is not willing for any to perish from hunger or lack. His vineyard is able to work and reward them all! When He see the 11th hour group, He sees them more important than the day, and the vineyard more important than the pay. While most focus their eyes on the heat and labor of the day, the Lord focuses on getting as many to the joy of His vineyard as he can.
Fourthly, the pay is not pay but the common grace that is given to every Christian that accepts the calling to His vineyard. The first workers were given a fair day's wage, but so were the rest. Life is not fair; we are all different in size, in looks, in wealth, in health, etc.. However, in Christ, by grace we are all made alive. The same grace that saved Billy Graham saves me. The same hand that saved Peter from perishing in the water, held me when, as a seventh grade sinner, I accepted my role in His beloved vineyard. The Jews are the first, we are the last, but it is the same Christ which will save both, if we accept His invitation. In one way or the other we are all 11th hour workers.
In closing, we all have two eyes. Which will you use today, the good or the evil?