In the culture of the Bible, there was a belief in something called the evil eye. Basically, a malevolent stare, sometimes accompanied by some occult ritual practice, was a way of harming people who upset you, basically cursing them.
This evil eye was supposed to be capable of harming, or even killing, living beings by looking at them. The damage may or may not be intended by the owner of the eye. This belief was widespread in ancient times and has continued up to the present, although it seems never to have spread much to the western hemisphere.
Methods of defense against effects of the evil eye included the wearing of charms (the camels’ ornaments of Judges 8:21, according to some), repeating of oaths, and obscene gestures. A person might be held in suspicion of evil intentions if observed watching children or farm animals. The effects of the evil eye were believed to be rooted in envy so that when one expressed his admiration for animals or children he would often say, “God bless them” or it's equivalent so that his motivations would not be questioned.
In the Old Testament, the phrase seems to denote the quality of stinginess, referring to the man or his action, without reference to magical power. In Deuteronomy 15:9, “thine eye be evil against” (KJV) might just as well be translated as “you are selfish toward.” Likewise, “his eye shall be evil toward” (KJV) means “he will act selfishly toward.” (Deut 28:54, 56) The contexts indicate that those referred to refused to share with others who had less. Selfishness also fits the context of Proverbs 28:22, describing one who “hastens after wealth.” In Proverbs 23:6 the context allows the RSV translation as “stingy.” Selfishness or envy is the apparent meaning in Matthew 20:15 and may possibly be related to the situation in Matthew 6:22, 23, and Luke 11:34.
So our proverb for today speaks of a bountiful, or “good” eye that looks to the needs of one’s neighbors, aiding them when they are in need and celebrating with them when they are successful.
The negative attitude accompanying an “evil eye” even without the occult practices sometimes associated with it, is a sinful and destructive mindset. To look to others with suspicion, envy, and ill-intent is to court destruction, not for others but for ourselves. When we allow our hearts to become bitter towards others, we are missing out on the bountiful life that we are offered in Christ.
So today, let’s check our hearts and how our attitudes towards others are shaping up. If we find ourselves thinking poorly of others or having resentment towards them, let’s ask God to help us soften our hearts and allow His grace and mercy to shape our hearts into a mirror image of God’s bountiful love.
Prayer for Today:
Father, thank you for your gracious provision that you offer me each day. Help me to be content with what I have and avoid jealousy and envy. Jesus, teach me to have grace even for my enemies. That by your Holy Spirit I can be formed in your image, to bear your light and love in the world. Amen.