READ: Matthew 6
BACKGROUND: Jesus continues the Sermon on the Mount and his teaching on how to live the radical lives God is calling us to and stand out as his people in the midst of a dark world.
3 – Not literally. That would be weird. The big idea of this section is: If your giving is inspired by trying to earn the praise and respect of people – instead of as a loving, faithful response to God – then it isn’t right.
5 – The word “hypocrites” gets thrown around a lot in this chapter. The Greek word literally means actor – like stage actor or play actor. In essence, someone who is intentionally and purposefully pretending to be something/someone they are not.
7 – It’s not about the right words. Or the number of words. Or the order of words. There’s no secret key in prayer that allows you to compel God. It’s about lining your heart up with his, and very honestly asking him and pouring your heart out to him. And he listens!
9 – “Hallowed” = Revered, respected, honored
10 – God’s Kingdom is a reality even now since Christ conquered sin and death. We are living as citizens of it. This is a prayer to see it fully realized. To see all things set right and made new.
11 – This about needs. Not wants or desires or selfish ambition. Bread. And it’s “us” not “me.” It’s about communal need and not only our personal needs.
12 – Debts or trespasses = sins. They are a way of thinking about what it means to sin. Ponder that. Sin incurs a debt that must be paid. Sin violates and trespasses against the holiness of God.
13 – God never leads us into temptation. This isn’t a prayer for fear that he might. It is a request for deliverance.
9-13 – These are all imperative verbs. Command verbs. Do it! It’s not that Jesus is telling us to command God, but to urgently implore him to do it, to make it happen!
17 – Jews often put ashes on their heads when they were fasting – so that everyone could see how pious they were. Jesus says to maintain a normal appearance instead. Fasting isn’t about proving your piety. It’s about connecting with God.
20 – Treasures in heaven are the things we do in life that matter for eternity – like showing Christ’s love and sharing our faith.
24 – Jesus never says that money itself is evil. Just loving and trusting in it. But he does make it clear that it is very difficult to have it without falling in love with it.
34 – What an incredibly liberating verse! If we really had faith that this was true (and we absolutely should!) it would make life so much better.
THINK (thoughts via my mom today): If your bible is like mine, chapters are divided into sections by bold, italicized headings – kind of like sub-titles. If my thoughts while reading were also subtitles, they’d look kind of like this:
Giving to the Needy – Does the trivia fundraiser on Friday night count? It’s for a really good cause.
Prayer – Can we hurry up and get to the “This is what I want” part?
Fasting – The thought of it makes me hungry.
Treasures in Heaven – Okay, but I need to run to the mall really quick first…
Do Not Worry – Now seriously, how am I gonna do that?
I’ve been a follower of Jesus for a very, very long time (I’m really old) and yet I struggle daily to give him control of my life. I am the hypocrite, the worrier, and the pagan Jesus rebukes. Too often I try to please two masters, and the light of Jesus in my life is hidden by the darkness of sin. But despite my miserable human failure the amazing message of Jesus in this chapter is that I get to connect with the Creator of the Universe….It is an invitation for me, and everyone like me, to come talk to our Father – a caring father. It is a reminder that while life is sometimes out of control, he is always in control; that money isn’t that important, that he will give us everything we need, and that we can trust him so completely worry isn’t even possible! I can give him my selfishness, my deception and my pride. And I can do this every day! So, while we will never by perfect, we can let Jesus reign be more and more evident and have more and more impact in every sphere of our lives.
CONSIDER: What would it look like to committ part of this chapter to memory…and the next time you’re tempted to worry or serve two masters or live for yourself etc., you can rebuke your sinful nature with the powerful words of Jesus!