They are usually considered to symbolize loyalty, honesty and integrity. Even as the expression “true blue” means to emphasize purity.
A romantic significance is attached to them as a rule. They seem to have attributed to them more depth of expression and feeling or emotion.
Well, now, that is something different. And we do not mean “green eyes” in the literal sense. They are synonymous with jealousy. They are the color of the eyes of that beast, the Green Eyed Monster, according to which jealousy, greed, covetousness and envy are personified. You may physically have green eyes, and you are not condemned because of it. You may have blue eyes and be very dishonest. Your eyes may naturally be brown, and yet spiritually they may be green. We would like to call your attention in these lines to that vicious evil of having green eyes in the spiritual sense.
That the sin of jealousy is widespread is to put it very mildly. We can better say that it is universal. Wherever you find man, you find these green eyes. For all are born by nature with green eyes. When a child is born the question is often asked, does it have blue eyes? Does it have brown eyes? Does it have eyes like its father or like its mother? Spiritually it has eyes like both its father and its mother, for both of them, always, by nature have, from the spiritual viewpoint, green eyes, the eyes of jealousy, envy, greed and covetousness.
Now it is true that jealousy does not always manifest itself the same way. It assumes quite a different form when it is to be seen in the lives of little children trying to out boast each other as to what their daddies, their mommies, their brothers or sisters can do, than when it is practiced by more mature and sinfully enterprising business men. That childish prattle may cause you to smile (though you should not, for it is sin) and to take steps to bring this “green eyed” contest to an end, but most likely you will find a word for the “green eyed” deeds of the adult, progressive businessman which, will take away the sting out of sin. We often call that the spirit of competition and laud to the skies the opportunity in our land for all or most of us to have our “green eyes” satisfied to a very great degree, because we can make a good bargain, since two businessmen or business concerns are “slugging it out” (pardon the expression, but sin is awful) to see who is going to get the trade in a certain district, to see who is going to cause whom to move out of the district and leave the whole area for a noncompetitive business, where prices may once again be raised. A large, attractively arranged supermarket is built, and people in the area and perhaps from far and wide make it their store. It does a million dollar business. This does not go by unobserved Oh, no! “Green eyes” see it. They also see a large open field very nearby where another super market can be built within plain view of this store that does the million dollar business. So it happens that soon we have two super markets in competition with each other. No, wait! A third one is also going up!
Now we call these men enterprising business men, men with vision, men who have their eyes open. Indeed, but then they are “green eyes”! What would the apostle Paul have said had he been taken on a tour of one of our modern cities instead of walking the streets of Corinth, Ephesus and Athens? Would he have said, not in vain did I write to the church at Philippi, “look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others”? And he did not mean look on the things of others with those green eyes of jealousy but with eyes of love.
And do we not like those “green eyed” tactics ourselves because our eyes are also spiritually green? We like to “keep up with the Joneses”. The neighbor gets a new car, we must have one too. The neighbor’s wife gets an automatic washing machine, an automatic drier, a new fur coat, yea perhaps nothing more than a new hat. But “I got to get one now too!!!” And how glad I am that those two stores are fighting it out and competing with each other for my trade, for what I save on my groceries because of their “green eyes” I can use to satisfy my own “green eyes”. And so the world goes around.
James, as taught by the very Spirit of God, tells us that these “green eyes” are the root and cause of all the grief and bloodshed we are now experiencing in war-torn Korea where our boys are suffering and dying. He states in James 4:1-5: “From whence come wars and fighting among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members ? Ye lust and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss that ye may consume it upon your lusts… Do ye think that the Scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?” There is the reason for all wars, price wars as we mentioned above also, strikes and revolutions, world wars and “policing duties”.
It is interesting also in this connection to note what the Apostle Paul writes to the churches at Ephesus and at Colosse. To the church at Ephesus he writes, “For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God”, Eph. 5:5. Note the words “…covetous man who is an idolater…” By this statement he does not single out certain covetous men and say that only those covetous men who are also idolaters are barred from the kingdom of God. He exactly means that all men by virtue of their covetousness are idolaters. Covetousness is idolatry. This last he states also when he writes to the Colossians. We read “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry, for which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience,” Col. 3:5, 6. How could it be otherwise? Covetousness by its very nature must be idolatry. For the covetous man makes the thing which he covets his idol. He puts it above everything else. He puts his wishes, his ambitions above God and all that He made. The covetous, “green-eyed” man is rebellious against the living God, Who has kept him from having these things He has given to the neighbor. And that thing, or those things, are the idol at whose feet he will fall. It he will seek with all his heart, mind, soul and strength.
Plain it also is that the covetous man ignores and deliberately rejects the Scriptural principle of Christian stewardship. He goes out from the viewpoint that all the things on this earth exist for his carnal lust, that he has no higher calling than to use the things of this world for himself and that his joy, his pleasure and his prosperity are the most important things in his life. He simply cannot rejoice to see that his neighbor has something and has joy and pleasure. No, he must be above that neighbor. His neighbor must always be inferior to him. Covetousness is pride. So proud is the covetous man that he dares to set God aside! He dares to call God unjust when He distributes His own goods as He sovereignly pleases. And the only god he wants is one that will exalt him above his neighbors.
Back of it all is the lie of paradise. By means of it the devil succeeded in bringing envy, greed, covetousness and jealousy into the heart of the human race. By the lie he succeeded in causing that creature that was created in the image of God to be jealous of the God in whose image he was created. He succeeded in chasing man to greedily reach out for what he might not have and could never have. Yea, he succeeded in seducing man to desire that his eyes of “blue” be changed to a greedy “green”.
But there is hope for the afflicted. There is the possibility of normal sight being restored according to which we shall see God and our calling towards Him with what we do not have as well as with what we do have. That hope is in the cross and Spirit of Him Who in our flesh was not at all tainted with these “green eyes”. Listen, if you please what the apostle says of His pure eyes, “…Who being in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God,” Phil. 2:6. The very thought of being like God in His human nature never entered the holy mind of Him who according to His divine nature is God. In His cross there is redemption for those afflicted with this spiritually repulsive coloring of the eyes. By His Spirit in the way of regeneration and the continued process of sanctification our eyes may be and are changed. Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. With his “green eyes”, which he has by natural birth, he cannot see a kingdom in which God is all in all. But being born again by the Spirit of Christ on the basis of Calvary a man receives those cleansed eyes whereby He does see God as God and His kingdom as a realm which exists for His glory alone.
And in the way of continual sanctification by the power of that same Spirit we will fight and overcome our lust, our greed, our envy, our jealousy and our covetousness. And we will live with our little or with our much, with what God has given us and with what He has given to others to the glory of His name. For we shall live “in His fear”.
And we shall by the same power of sanctification make our song.
Help me Thy will to do,
Thy truth I will pursue.
Teach me to fear;
Give me the single eye
Thy name to glorify,
O Lord, my God most high,
With heart sincere.