This week we’ll be looking at Matthew 6:1-18 which has 3 major themes; Giving to the poor, Prayer and Fasting. Pay attention to the number of times Jesus repeats certain words.
Matthew 6:1-4, NIV
“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Matthew 6:5-15, NIV
5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. 14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Matthew 6:16-18, NIV 16 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Just a few questions to think about…
How would you define “acts of righteousness”? Where do you most persistently or strongly experience the temptation “to be seen by others”?
Why do you think Jesus talks so much about hypocrisy? Is this just relevant to the religious community in Jesus’ day or is it still an issue in our life and church today?
Is it encouraging or discouraging to think that our reward for doing what we think is right will either be praised by people or a reward from our heavenly Father?
Also, since FASTING is one of today’s theme and there’s a Fellowship Meal planned for lunchtime, you may want to consider fasting during breakfast time. J
See you Sunday!