The Evil Eye

Many have referred to the eye as a window to the soul. Jesus said, “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness,” (Matthew 6:22-23). When was the last time you had your spiritual eyes checked?

What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart,             come… envy [an evil eye],” (Mark 7:20-22, ESV, emp. added).

Envy, for Christians, should be a thing of the past. The Bible teaches us to be ready for every good work as an overflow reaction to the mercy of our Savior. This requires a change of mind and heart. As we read, “For we ourselves were once… passing our days in malice and envy…but when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared…that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life,” (Titus 3:3). This is why Peter wrote to Christians saying, “So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander,” (1 Peter 2:1, ESV, emp. added).The Scriptures give us five reasons why we should avoid envy and remove it from our hearts:

  1. Envy is the opposite of love. “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast,” (1 Corinthians 13:4).
  2. Envy causes spiritual decay.“A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot,” (Proverbs 14:30)
  3. Envy encourages a conceited attitude. “Let us not become conceited… envying one another,” (Galatians 5:26).
  4. Envy prevents us from inheriting God’s kingdom.“envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God,” (Galatians 5:21).
  5. Envy produces internal emptiness.“Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man’s envy of his neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind,” (Ecclesiastes 4:4).


In the New Testament, the word “envy” comes from two words meaning “an evil eye.” This makes sense when we hear or read the phrase, “Their eyes are green with envy.” Not that their eyes literally change color, but that the person’s look suggests ill will, jealousy, and/or internal dissatisfaction.  There’s the heart problem.

Whether we envy someone’s success, possessions, social-status, talents, or anything else we allow our personal dissatisfaction to impact our thoughts, feelings, and actions. In Central America, due to the harsh conditions of the sun and the burning of the cane fields, it is common for people to damage their eyes, developing scar tissue called Pterygiums. This scar tissue typically starts in the corner of the eye and can eventually cause blindness if it reaches the cornea. When envy enters our spiritual eyes, they become damaged and scarred. Spiritual blindness easily follows as envy grows in our hearts and minds.

            If our spiritual vision becomes corrupted, how will that impact our heart? Let us guard our hearts by making sure that our spiritual sight is crystal clear. As Paul said,

“I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need,” (Philippians 4:11-12).