Monday, October 28, 2013


I was in two places at once.  I was on my way to buy the day's food at the outdoor market, and lost deep in ancient Palestine where Jesus is rebuked by the Pharisees for not making his disciples wash their hands before dinner. (Earbuds in, I smiled to myself; I wonder how the Pharisees would have felt about Purell?)  Then Jesus taught them that compared to the stuff that comes out of people, food or a few germs for that matter have no power to pollute.  He said: 

What comes out of a man, that defiles a man.  For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. (Mark 7:21-22 NKJV)

Jesus seems to be saying that from deep inside of us, from our sinful hearts, comes the external actions that appear so clearly as sin to others.  I hate that.  I want to pretend that when I do something bad it was a one-off, an accident, that I was having a bad day or was just surprised and didn't know what to do.

I was especially startled to hear "an evil eye" in the middle of that list.  I flashed-back to studying this verse in Sunday School.  I thought the evil eye was glaring at my mom. Though a sin in its own right, that's not what Jesus had in mind. 

I recently read Walking in the Dust of the Rabbi Jesus.  I know I am a year behind Melissa but my downstairs neighbor recently lent it to me.  Tverberg carefully explains this particular idiom. To have a good eye means to have a generous spirit to see and meet the needs of those around you. 

So there it was in the middle of the list between "lewdness" and "blasphemy."  Weird.  I can imagine what lewdness would look like: dirty dancing or this link on High School Football games. Blasphemy is also not that hard to imagine: walking around in a T-shirt proclaiming "God is a girl." Practical examples of the "evil eye" though are a little harder. 

Walking along in the lovely fall sunshine, it all started to come together in my mind.  The "evil eye," thinking back to Tverberg, means a stingy spirit or an envious spirit*. Envy is definitely a sin. It's right there at the end of the 10 commandments.  I remember because I always snickered at the KJV as a kid.  (You've forgotten?  I can't put it here for you, this blog is a solid PG!  You'll have to look it up.) But envy isn't exactly the same as stinginess and the idiom definitely carries both ideas (See Deuteronomy 15:9 and Proverbs 23:6).  Pondering, I walked on to the market, bought the materials to make a lovely pork and apple stew for dinner, and listened to the next several chapters of Mark. 

Mark 8-10 reveal a shockingly stingy picture of the apostles.  They debate on who'll be the greatest instead of sharing honor; they get mad because someone is casting out demons using their teacher's name, they are jealous of their Rabbi's time and don't want to share him with the children.  It's not money that haunted them.  Peter says a little later in Mark that they had left all for the Lord.  They lacked generosity in other areas.

Me too.

Stack of coins 0214
Few people ask for my money and I am not willing to give it.  Of course our little house church has nearly no overhead and the beggars only want a my loose change.  I'm happy to share.  There are other things though that are harder.  With two at home to homeschool I have the busiest schedule I've had since the days that I worked a full-time job.  I'm an introvert and interaction with others costs me in energy, and I'm tired. Those are facts.

I've been stingy. That's a fact too.

I've been quietly withdrawing from people.  I've slacked off in areas like hospitality, encouragement and visiting.  Every time I started to think of it my mind shied away.  For weeks I've done nothing.  Sigh.

By the time I made it home I had prayed for a generous and repentant heart.  I talked to my husband about beginning again with the discipline of hospitality.  I need to see my own abundance and give more cheerfully.  Help me here-what do you struggle to be generous with?

*If like me you don't read Hebrew you can get a better understanding of her point by going to an online concordance with a KJV setting LINK and doing a word study on "evil eye."
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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