Gospel Thoughts: Matthew 6
|1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. 2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men.||Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: 4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.|
Jesus Addresses Giving Alms
Listen very carefully to the words of Jesus. This is how the sixth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel begins. When you give alms do not make a public exhibition of yourself to be seen of men. Rather do this in private so that your giving is between you and God. Alms is when you give money or food to the poor. Jesus’s teaching in Matthew 6 contrasts with the vanity of the Scribes and Pharisees who enjoyed making a public display of their good deeds. This performance was for their glory. Charitable deeds should be for the glory of God, showing God’s goodness and mercy toward mankind. The reward for this vainglory is merely the applause of man.
Jesus mentions a trumpet being sounded. This can also be called a fanfare. A loud sound announcing the arrival of an important person, such as a King or Queen. In the United Kingdom, a fanfare is sounded to note the arrival of the monarch.
|5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. 7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. 8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.||9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. 14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.|
Prayer is a very important part of Christian life. We ought to pray daily. The Apostle Paul wrote, “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. v.17). A prayerless Christian is a lifeless Christian. prayer is a blessing from God. Prayer is a privilege, we ought to take every opportunity to pray to God. Christians should pray day and night, in good times and in times of hardship.
Hear the words of C.H. Spurgeon on the subject of prayer, “True prayer is not a mental exercise nor a vocal performance. It is far deeper than that – it is a spiritual transaction with the Creator of Heaven and Earth.”
Christian prayer is not hypocritical. Our motive is for the glory of God. Jesus tells us how the hypocrites like to stand in the synagogues and on the street corner to be seen of men. His teaching here is continued from the opening verses about alms. Whatever the Christian does it ought to be for the glory of God. the Christian is told to not say vain repetitions when they pray. This means do not say the same words and phrases repeatedly, thinking you will be heard more by saying the same things. An example of this would be the Rosary. The Rosary is a prayer of Roman Catholicism, whereby the words of the apostle’s creed, Lord’s Prayer, “Hail Mary” and others are said multiple times. God is not concerned with word counts and flowery expressions and mantras. God desires to hear what is on your heart.
Our Lord said that those who use vain repetitions think they will be heard for their much speaking. Jesus goes on to explain what true prayer is. Here we find the words to what has come to be known as the Lord’s Prayer.
We learn several important points about prayer here. Prayer is to be addressed to God, his name should be honoured, his will should be sought to be done, a request for daily needs to be met, the words of prayer are to be thankful. We are also to pray for forgiveness of sin and deliverance from the temptations. Jesus closes his example of prayer with “Amen” meaning, let it be so.
|16 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; 18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.|
Fasting is another deed for the glory of God. It is clear to see by now that the theme of Christ in Matt 4 is the glory of God and the disapproval of vainglory for yourself. When you fast, we should go about our daily routine without making a display of our fasting. Notice how Christ said when you fast. Fasting ought to be a normal practise for Christian people. Fasting should not be viewed as an optional extra or an add on to the Christian faith. Fasting, which is going without food for the body to devote your time, effort and energy on spiritual food, nourishment and discipline.
|19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole||body shall be full of light. 23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! 24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.|
Where is your treasure
Set your thoughts on the things of God. Lay your treasures in heaven above where rust cannot destroy. Earthly treasures will fade and be of no eternal use. This is the message of Christ here. Many people spend their whole life building up treasures on the earth. They spend their money and time in the pursuit of wealth, and earthly fortunes and gain. It is a true saying and worthy of being reminded at this point that we bring nothing into the world, and we carry nothing out. What will it profit you to have all this vain world can offer only to spend eternity separated from God’s eternal rest and joy?
God desires that His people have a spiritual vision to see his desire and will for us. Good eyes are fixed on God alone. This is crucial as no-one can serve two masters. The Christian has one and only one master. You cannot serve God and earthly gain. You cannot split your loyalty between God and the world. In England we have a saying, “you can’t sit on the fence.” When it comes to matters of the Gospel, you cannot sit on the fence. You are either with God or against God. Do not be fooled into the trap of the materialistic world, many have and been swallowed up. In 1 Timothy vi.10 Paul tells us that the love and an endless pursuit of riches and money will cause much spiritual hurt to the child of God. Who is your master? What occupies your mind? What does your heart desire?
|25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? 28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.||30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.|
Jesus teaching on worry
In the closing verses of the sixth chapter of Matthew’s gospel Jesus speaks about worry. He reassures us that those who trust in Him have nothing to fear in terms of their daily needs being met. Jesus teaches us that the birds do not sow nor gather food in barns, yet God feeds them. We are further reassured that God will tend to the needs of His people.
We are to turn to God for help and not be consumed with worry. We ought to cast our cares upon the Lord. Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. By turning to God in faith and prayer we do just that, we seek God first and put Him first.