The Sermon On The Mount: Part Four – Matthew 6:19-34

**This post will is the forth post of an exciting series on the Sermon on the mount in Matthew 5-7, as translated in the English Standard Version of the Bible.  You can read the passage online by Clicking Here so that you can gain the most value and context for these posts.  Please subscribe to this blog to receive updates on new posts! You can read the whole series in order by Clicking Here**

Recap – We left off with an overall message of:  If we want to follow Jesus, we’re called to love, pray, and worship genuinely.  It’s all about the nature of our hearts; the motives behind our worship need to be pure.

In this next section in Matthew 6, verses 19-34, the overall theme is best summed up as: If we want to follow Jesus, we should know that earthly possessions do not matter as much as trusting the Lord in all of life’s circumstances.

God and Money – Matthew 6:19-24 

Money can consume us; whether we are in need or not.  We can spend so much time thinking about how we are going to pay the electric bill in a very hot or cold month, how we’re going to fill our tank up again, or how we’re going to advance further, financially, in our life time.

Jesus warns us how money can become an idol – where we may have a lot of treasure, but none of that matters when you pass on to the next life; your spiritual treasures are what matters.  So wich are you focused on?

Jesus said that the eye is the lamp of the body, so is your eye on God, or on money?  If it is on money, you will notice that money consumes your thoughts, and you are never really satisfied with what you have.  If God consumes your thoughts, though money is a natural part of life, it will not be the focus of your life.

Trusting God through observing nature – Matthew 6:25-34

Life seems simpler as an animal sometimes.  You wake up, search for food, build nests or dens, sleep, repeat.  Animals don’t have bills, they don’t have to buy clothing, or food; they just live. Is life hard for them? Yes – predators could get to them, and they have to survive the harsh winters and the hot summers.

For humans, its hard to say that God will provide for us sometimes because we know that some Christians die of starvation, some are homeless, and although these things happen, some of these people STILL are joyful.  Why?  Because they know that heaven is greater, that God is loving, and they let that hope carry them through, instead of letting their worries gain control over their tomorrows.

This passage seems to indicate that God knows and provides for our needs.  I am going to be honest and say that I have a hard time accepting the view that God provides for the needs of a Christian when the starvation and homelessness of Christians exist.  It would be easy for me to believe that God provides all of our needs because I have all of my needs…but what about those who don’t? Its difficult; its messy.  For now, I have to trust in the God who gave me the greatest gift of faith, and pray for clarification for the rest. If you have any thoughts on this, please leave a comment!

The Sermon On The Mount: Part Three – Matthew 6:1-18

**This post will is the third post of an exciting series on the Sermon on the mount in Matthew 5-7, as translated in the English Standard Version of the Bible.  You can read the passage online by Clicking Here so that you can gain the most value and context for these posts.  Please subscribe to this blog to receive updates on new posts! You can read the whole series in order by Clicking Here**

Recap – We left off at the end of Matthew 5, verses 17-48.  The topics covered in this section were The Law (17-20), Anger & Lust (21-30), Divorce (31-32), Oaths (33-42), and Non-Retaliation and Enemy Love (43-48).   Christ’s theme in all of Chapter 5 seems to be something like, “If you want to follow me, You’re called to more than what is expected of you from the world”.

In this next section in chapter 6, verses 1-18, Christ’s theme seems to be something like, “If you want to follow me, You’re called to love, pray, and worship genuinely”.

We’re Called to Love Genuinely – Matthew 6:1-4.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:1-4 that when we practice our faith in ways that would seek attention, we are not doing those good actions from a pure heart, but from a selfish heart.   When we help the poor, and when we try to quench the thirst of poverty…we should not do so in ways that would attract attention to ourselves; trying to save face.  We should be doing these things in ways that would Not attract attention, and our motives should purely be centered on serving God, and serving others.

Following Jesus is a religion of humility before a righteous God, and of service to your fellow human being.  Following Jesus is NOT a religion of selfishness, or of self-exclaiming pride

We’re Called to Pray Genuinely – Matthew 6:5-15

Like we learned from the previous passage, we should not pray in order to be heard, or to get attention, but rather, prayer is to be a special moment shared between us and God.

This passage also teaches us that when we pray, repeating the same request over and over again does not make God hear us more;  it does not change how God is going to respond to our request.

In verses 9-13, “The Lord’s Prayer” is said by Jesus as an instruction on how to pray. The Lord’s Prayer is a prayer that has been said throughout Christendom for hundreds of years; some traditions state that its usage dates back to the first century with the early Christians.  Some traditions still incorporate the Lord’s prayer into their weekly services because they believe Jesus instructed that the Lord’s Prayer should be said regularly, while others say it would be vain repetition to say the same words over and over again.  Regardless of our personal opinion on its usage in today’s world, we can at least observe what the prayer intended to communicate to its original audience.

The prayer starts by acknowledging the Lord’s divinity through showing reverence to his name.  It then petitions the Lord to usher His kingdom into the world, and that His Will would be done.  The next part is asking for “our daily bread”, which has been interpreted to mean either literal food, or it could also be a metaphor for spiritual food.  The prayer then closes with asking for forgiveness, while acknowledging our need to forgive others, and to also keep us from the temptation to fall again.

After the prayer, verses 14-15 continue to stress the importance of forgiving others.

We’re Called to Worship Genuinely – Matthew 6:16-18

Matthew 6:16-18 is about fasting, and it ties into the theme of this whole section of Matthew 6:1-18; the idea that we should not do acts of service, prayer, or worship because we want to gain attention; but because we are simply trying to serve the God we love.  

Fasting is meant to be a time of withholding from something for the purpose of worship of God, prayer, and/or praise.  Some observe this practice today, and others do not.  Regardless of what your practice is, the principle for this whole first section of Matthew 6 is summed up in the meaning behind verses 17 and 18, which says:

“But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,  that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”(ESV)

When a person would fast, their hair, hygiene, and overall appearance could look poor because of their lack of food for whatever amount of time they chose to fast.  Because of this, Jesus gave the literal teaching to make your hair look nice, clean up, and go about your day as if you were not fasting so that what you are doing for God would only be seen by God.  Again, the purpose for this was to tear down people’s perceptions of what it meant to worship as shown to them by their religious leaders, which was public and attention-seeking worship.

Conclusion

Worship is meant to be done for God, and is between him and us.  Different people worship different ways. Some worship God best through contemplative reading, thought, and prayer.  Some worship best through Service, and others worship best through music.  Regardless of the mode of worship, we should never lose sight of the purpose of Worship.