Matthew 6 (NRSV)
“Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.
2“So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 3But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
God cares about what we do and the motive we have in the doing.
5“And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.
“Oh, let us rather seek to be good than seem to be so.”
6But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
“Keep the thing so secret that even you yourself are hardly aware that you are doing anything at all praiseworthy. Let God be present, and you will have enough of an audience.”
–Charles Haddon Spurgeon
7“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words.
When you pray, rather let your heart be without words than your words without heart.
8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
9“Pray then in this way:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
10Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
11Give us this day our daily bread.
12And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.
14For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; 15but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Jesus says: Forgiveness is not an option! It is an imperative.
HERE is “The Lord’s Prayer” sung by Charlotte Church.
16“And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 17But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
19“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; 20but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
My mother knew this poem by heart and I remember hearing her recite it to us kids.
Let me hold lightly things of this earth;
Transient treasures, what are they worth?
Moths can corrupt them, rust can decay;
All their bright beauty fades in a day.
Let me hold lightly temporal things–
I, who am deathless, I, who wear wings!
Let me hold fast, Lord, things of the skies;
Quicken my vision, open my eyes!
Show me Thy riches, glory and grace,
Boundless as time is, endless as space…
Let me hold lightly things that are mine–
Lord, Thou hast given me all that is Thine!
— Martha S. Nicholson
The Sound Eye
22“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; 23but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
Serving Two Masters
24“No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
Do Not Worry
25“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? 28And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?
31Therefore do not worry,
We are invited to know a freedom from the worry and anxiety that comes from undue concern about material things. We can reflect the same kind of heart that Matthew Henry showed when he said the following after being robbed:
Lord, I thank You:
That I have never been robbed before.
That although they took my money, they spared my life.
That although they took everything, it wasn’t very much.
That it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.
saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
In 1971, Karen Lafferty’s rent and car payment were due, while at the same time her savings was gone and her job was teaching guitar lessons to only three students. But at her Bible Study, they read from Matthew 6. She came home and put the words to music, thinking, “Yes, that’s the answer.” The little song soon became well-known around the world! HERE is “Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God.”
34“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.