An idiom used in scripture that has stuck with me is that of the “evil eye” or in Hebrew: “ayin hara.” An example of its use can be found in Proverbs 23:6-8 (DARBY) [emphasis mine] “Eat thou not the food of him that hath an evil eye, neither desire thou his dainties. For as he thinketh in his soul, so is he. Eat and drink! will he say unto thee; but his heart is not with thee. Thy morsel which thou hast eaten must thou vomit up, and thou wilt have wasted thy sweet words.”
The beginning of verse 7 is more familiarly translated as “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (AMP). Essentially, the foundational point we will start with is what we think and believe in our hearts, sets the tone for who we are. In other words, you can say all the kind and generous things you want, but if your heart is unkind and stingy that is the true indicator of your character.
We see this point reiterated in the New Testament when we’re challenged not only not to engage in sexual sin, but not to even lust after another in our heart (Matthew 5:28), clearly indicating our thoughts and heart intent matter. Again in the story of the widow’s mite where even though she gave less because her heart intention was to give all, hers was the greater gift (Luke 21). And of course we’re exhorted to be cheerful givers (2 Corinthians 9:7), again indicating that our heart intentions matter deeply – remember, think on that which is good, perfect, and true. (Philippians 4:8). What is in our heart and mind matters deeply.
Bringing this back around to the “evil eye” (sometimes translated as “stingy”), this has to do with perspective. How someone is looking at things. So in our example above in Proverbs, we see the person with the evil eye giving an outward show of generosity, all the while begrudging every bit taken, which makes what is given ultimately almost a curse. Let’s look at these verses again in the Living Bible paraphrase, “Don’t associate with evil men; don’t long for their favors and gifts. Their kindness is a trick; they want to use you as their pawn. The delicious food they serve will turn sour in your stomach, and you will vomit it and have to take back your words of appreciation for their “kindness.””
And while this scripture is warning us about interacting with others who have an evil eye, my challenge for myself (and now for you) is to check yourself to see if you’re operating in an “evil (stingy) eye.” This could be something as obvious as not trusting God’s provision enough to be generous when He prompts you to sow, or it can be more nuanced like not assuming positive intent when you don’t understand someone else’s actions.
This also holds true with how we see ourselves. Do we belittle ourselves or think badly of ourselves? All of these things indicate operating with an evil eye, which means a perspective shift is needed. What we need is “ayin tovah,” which is Hebrew for the “good eye” – it implies a generosity of spirit that is the opposite of the stingy evil eye.
We get to choose our response to everything that happens to us and around us. It is our choice. We can choose to see what is good, or we can constantly be looking for what will go wrong next. It’s our choice. But we cannot for one moment blame the resulting heart and outlook on someone else. If I choose to be negative and constantly look for offense, the subsequent bitterness and anger are the result of my own choices.
This brings to mind a D4Yart Deck card called “BEAUTY SURROUNDS YOU,” a portion of which reads, “See the beauty in everything, for when you focus your attention on seeing beauty – you will always find it, for it is there even in the bleakest landscape or the moments of hardship, simply look.” This is always true, for even if the only beauty you find in a moment of hardship is the fact that you took a moment to pause and look for beauty – even with everything swirling around you, that discipline is indeed beautiful and worth celebrating.
So challenge yourself to intentionally choose your perspective rather than simply riding the raging waves of our emotions and simply reacting to everything rather than choosing our response. Choose to be generous of spirit and to have a “good eye” rather than an evil (stingy) one. For in doing so you make way for beauty and generosity to surround you, and let’s face it – that is a much sweeter way to live!