1. Matthew 6:1-4 – Do Good to Please God
Do Good to Please God
6 “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 3 But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.
Christ is warning us against hypocrisy and our outward show in religious duties. Whenever we do something, it must be done from an inward principle so that we receive approval from God and not from man. There is a caution against hypocrisy in the good that you do. We need to be careful of this, as it can become a subtle sin in our lives, and vain glory creeps into what we do even before we are aware of it. The manner in which we do deeds of righteousness and charity must be performed with the following in mind:
- With a cheerful respect to Divine direction
- We must aim at the advancement of the honor of God
- Act from Christian compassion and fellowship
- We must be totally dependent on Divine assistance, and give all praise to Him who enables and equips us to live to His glory.
So let us follow the principle rather than making it a rule. God is the one who see’s all things, good and bad, the acts we do on the outside and our very inward thoughts. This is actually an encouragement and hope for us. Especially in times where we feel isolated, not understood, not appreciated. He sees everything in secret and He is the one who rewards. Far greater is the reward of the Lord God Almighty than what we receive from man.
2. Matthew 6:5-15 – The Model Prayer
The Model Prayer
5 “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. 7 And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.
8 “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. 9 In this manner, therefore, 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 this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
13 And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
So Jesus is here, saying that hypocrites manifested the same spirit about prayer as that of alms giving, and being done in public places. Jesus is condemning the prayers that were designed to impress others and characterized by a way of showy display. The Jews were in a habit of praying in public places. They would offer up prayers during certain times of the day . Wherever they were, they would stop their work and paid their devotions. Many sought publicity in this manner and showing it as a proof of their great piety.
Rather than a public display, there should be some place where we may be in secret-where we will be alone with God. This should be a place where no ear will hear us and no eye can see us, but a place where He is able to see us and hear us. Jesus has shown this by example. In Mark 1:35 says “Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.” It didn’t have to be any specific place, it could be a grove, a mountain, a garden or any other place. We do not have an excuse. Especially those of us who have been blessed with a home and a place to live. We spend so much time at home but which of us are practicing being alone with God?
Christ did all this for us, so that we could be saved from our sins. We must in the same manner have a heart for this world, and not only for ourselves. Also notice that Christ, did not specify times when we should pray and how often we should be praying. The reasons for this could be:
- That, it is a choice of a believer to decide. There is no better test of true piety than a hunger to engage as often as possible in secret prayer. He intended to leave it to us to show attachment to Him by coming to Him often, and as often as we choose.
- Specifying times would tend to make our relationship with Christ formal and religious and eventually heartless.
So, prayer is the element of being the breath, the vital air of breathing in Christ and we must and should pray as this is our relationship with God. When we come before Him, because we long to spend time in His presence, this is when our hearts are full, when the sun of glory shines, where no cloud intervenes. This is the Christian that rises above the world. He who sees in secret will reward us openly.
The passage containing the Lord’s prayer is a composition unequaled for comprehensiveness and beauty. The prayer is given as a “model”. It is designed to express the “manner” in which we are to pray.
Our Father – God is called the Father
- He is the creator and the Great Parent of all;
- He is the preserver of the human family and the provider for their wants
- He is the Father of those who are adopted into His family; who put confidence in Him; and who are true followers of Christ and made heirs of life.
Hallowed by thy name
- The word “hallowed” means to render or pronounce holy. God’s name is essentially holy. So by this we are saying, let His name be celebrated and esteemed as holy everywhere and receive from all people proper honor.
Thy kingdom come
- The word “kingdom” here means “reign”. We are expressing a wish that God will reign everywhere, that His laws may be obeyed and especially that the gospel of Christ may be advanced everywhere, until the world shall be filled with His glory.
Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven
- The will of God is that people should obey His law and be holy. The word “will” here has reference to His law and what is acceptable to Him. So when we pray, for His will to be done. So to pray that His “will” be done on earth as it is in heaven, is to pray that His will may be done on earth as in heaven. His law is perfectly obeyed in Heaven, and His true children desire and pray that it may also be obeyed on earth.
So the object of the first section is that God’s name should be glorified and His kingdom established; and by being placed first, we can learn that His glory and kingdom are more important than our wants and that these should be the first in our hearts and petitions before a throne of grace.
Give us this day our daily bread.
- The word “bread” here, means everything necessary to sustain life. This implies our dependance on God for the supply of all our needs. We are fully dependent on Him every single day. Also notice the plural reference, “give us” meaning that it a request not only for the individual, but is applied to more than one, such as your family, church, community etc…
And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.
- The word debt is used figuratively here. It does not mean literally that we are debtors to God, but that our sins have a resemblance to debts and God by dying on the cross, has forgiven us for our sins, when we come before Him in repentance and accept Him as our personal savior. So when we come before Him unwilling to forgive, harboring dark and revengeful thoughts, how can we expect that God will show mercy when we are unwilling to show mercy to others.
And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.
- The phrase used here must be used in the sense of “permitting”, or do not permit us to be tempted to sin. It is implying that God has control over the tempter as to save us from his power if we call upon Him. The word temptation also means sometimes trial, affliction or anything that tests our virtue.
- Deliver us from evil – The meaning here is to deliver us from the evil one, Satan. So that we are delivered from his power, his snares, his temptations. So to be delivered from the evil one is to be safe with the Lord, safe from the heavy and oppressive calamities into which we continually fall.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
- Yours is the kingdom: This is the reign and dominion of our Lord.He has control over all things and so is capable of answering all of these petitions.
- Your is the power: He has the power to accomplish all that we ask. We are weak and cannot do it, but He is the Almighty and all things are possible with Him
- Yours is the glory: His is all the honor and praise. It is not for “our honor”, but that it is for His glory and that His goodness may be displayed in providing for our wants. To show His power exerted in defending us and for His praise and His kingdom to spread throughout the world.
3. Matthew 6:16-18 – Fasting to Be Seen Only by God
Fasting to Be Seen Only by God
16 “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 17 But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
Christ here is most probably referring to private and voluntary fasting, which is a choice made by each individual for himself, although in spirit it would apply to any fast. We should not be hypocrites. The people at that time would literally disfigure their faces and be of an untidy appearance with ashes sprinkled on their head at the time of fasting and by this it would show people that they were in a time of fasting. It was not the deed, but the reputation for the deed that the people were after and with this view the hypocrites multiplied their fasts.
But Christ is saying when we fast, we must anoint our head and wash our face. In other words, appear as usual so that you attract no notice. This is so that, the people will not know you are fasting, but the heavenly Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
4. Matthew 6:19-21 – Lay Up Treasures in Heaven
Lay Up Treasures in Heaven
19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Christ now makes a transition from religious to common actions and warns us of another snare, the love of money and earthly things. These are all things that are perishable and are only for a short time. Rather we must build our happiness on a more noble and certain foundation where the things are eternal and not temporary. This is where the arms of our everlasting Father who is full of power and love will secure us from every calamity and trouble.
So wherever our treasure is, that is where are hearts also. We need to be careful where we make our treasures. Our treasure must be the Lord Jesus Christ and there is nothing that is of more value than Him. In Him are all things, greater than anything this world can offer us. Let us make Him our treasure, so that our hearts may be in Him.
5. Matthew 6:22-23 – The Lamp of the Body
The Lamp of the Body
22 “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
The light of the body is the eye. Just as there are candles in a house to provide the light, so is the eye to our bodies. By the light of the eye, the members of our body, perform their duties. So we see that the eye of the body, is transferred to the eye of the mind. Let us ensure that our eyes are good and our minds are generous and loving, seeking to do good.
Our whole body should be full of light and our actions must be fulfilled by this principle. Our whole life is illuminated, guided and governed by the light of the eye and we will then see the results with our minds being cheerful and having pleasant thoughts and in all things be prosperous and successful.
6. Matthew 6:24 – You cannot serve God and Riches
You Cannot Serve God and Riches
24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
No man can serve two masters. Christ illustrates the necessity of laying up treasures in heaven from a well known fact, that being, a servant cannot serve two masters at the same time. His affections and obedience will be divided and will fail in his duties to one or the other. He will love one and hate the other. If he is devoted to the interests of one, then he would neglect the duties of the other. This is the law of human nature. Our supreme affections can be fixed on only one object.
So Jesus is saying that the servant of God cannot at the same time be obedient to God and seek the treasures of this world. One interferes with the other, and one or the other must be surrendered.
Mammon, is a Syriac word, a name given to an idol worshiped as the god of riches. It has the same meaning as Plutus among the Greeks. So Christ by this is saying that, you cannot serve the true living God, and at the same time be supremely engaged in obtaining the riches of this world.
7. Matthew 6:25-34 -Do Not Worry
Do Not Worry
25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
The Lord Jesus proceeds here to caution His disciples against the worldly cares and being inconsistent with the true services of God as worldly desires. We need to be careful to understand that Christ here does not command us to take no thought for our life, food or clothing, because in other parts of the scriptures we are commanded to be diligent in our business, and to labor with our hands, so that we can supply for our own needs and the needs of other. We can read this in Romans 12:11 “not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;”
It also says in Ephesians 4:28 “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.” So we are told to do our very best with what we can, and the Lord will bless us in that which we do. If we are faithful with a little, we surely will be faithful with much. As it says in Titus 3:14 “And let our people also learn to maintain good works, to meet urgent needs, that they may not be unfruitful.”
So Christ is not saying that we shouldn’t be thoughtful, have foresight and care and be prudent in ensuring that our needs, and the needs of those who depend on us are met but it is the anxiety and concern that takes over our thoughts. It is those periods where we are down with worry, not knowing what the next day is going to bring, and those times where our spirits are low. This is where Christ is saying, you don’t need to worry about these things, rather trust in Him completely as he is powerful and mighty and loving. He is able to do all things, especially when we place our trust in Him.
Verse 27 says Which of you can add one cubit to his stature life; meaning which one of us can profit when we indulge in our anxious thoughts and cares. Stature can be translated here as age, as the caution is against anxious care about the preservation of life, about food and the means of prolonging it. Another way this could be expressed is, by a hair’s breadth or something similar.
In conclusion, it is the will and command of the Lord Jesus, that by daily prayers we may get strength to bear us up under our daily troubles, and to arm us against the temptations we face allowing none of these things to move us. We will be truly happy when we look upon the Lord our God, entrusting ourselves into His mighty arms.
If you have never given your life to Christ, and you feel the call of God in your heart. Now is the time to respond and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord.
You can receive remission of your sins, not by your own works, but through faith in Jesus Christ who already paid the price for us. All you have to do is to accept his sacrifice in your place as a free gift. Take this moment to declare you have accepted the free gift by saying the following prayer:
“God I know that I am a sinner. I know that I deserve the consequences of my sin. However I am trusting in Jesus Christ as my Savior. I believe that His death and resurrection provided for my forgiveness. I trust in Jesus and Jesus alone as my personal Lord and Savior. Thank you Lord, for saving me and forgiving me. Amen.”
If you would like to know more about having a relationship with Jesus Christ, please contact us and we would love to talk to you about living a life with Jesus as the center of your life.
Bible reading: New King James Version (NKJV)
Resources: Various Bible Commentaries