Matthew 6 Notes:
Jesus continues in the Sermon on the Mount giving principles surrounding religious hypocrisy and kingdom priorities so disciples will live for the Kingdom of God in righteousness (Matthew 6).
First, Jesus takes on the religious hypocrisy (6:1-18)
The focus is on Religious Righteousness of a Disciple of Jesus. Matthew uses a form of “Not…as the hypocrites…but…you.” The focus of these verses is almsgiving to the poor, prayer and fasting were the three chief acts of the Jewish Piety. It is interesting that these are 3 of the 5 Pillars of Islam too (the other two are Mohammed and Mecca Travel)!
I. The Principle (vs.1) 1 “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
Note: “Righteousness” is “to do what is right.”
The source of your expected reward (men or God) determines the manner of your religious practices (public or private).
“Not the outward show, but the inward glow!”
a. Giving to the Needy (Almsgiving) (vs.2-4) 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.
“When” you give – not “if” you give. Assumed that you will give.
Don’t make a show of it outwardly.
Do not make an issue of it inwardly.
Give privately, generously and spontaneously.
b. Prayer (vs.5-15)
i. Loud Prayer (vs.5-6) 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.
“When” you pray – not “if” you give. Assumed that you will pray.
Do not try to impress men (6:5)
ii. Repetitious Prayer (vs.7-8) 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.
Do not try to impress God (6:7).
Pray privately and sincerely (6:6, 6:8).
iii. Example of Good Prayer (vs.9-13) 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.’
First Half: God’s Glory:
Let your name be sanctified – praised.
Let your kingdom come.
Second Half: Our Needs:
Forgive Debts – as we forgive others.
Don’t lead us into testing. Rescue us from evil.
iv. Forgiveness and Prayer (vs.14-15) 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.
Comment on forgiveness so your prayers are effective.
Connection between “right” praying and “bitterness in your heart” toward others.
c. Fasting (vs.16-18) 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.
Do not make a show of it (6:16) Pharisees fasted twice a week.
Fast privately, going about your normal activities naturally (6:17-18).
- Hypocrites are showy. Disciples are secret.
- Hypocrites are motivated by pride. Disciples are motivated by humility.
- Hypocrites are rewarded by mankind. Disciples are rewarded by God.
Second, Jesus explains Kingdom Priorities (6:19-34)
This is all about the attitude of a disciple. Matthew uses Metaphor and Example as the form of this section.
I. Kingdom Heart (vs.19-21)
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Divided affection. Do you love the world more than heaven?
II. Kingdom Vision (vs. 22-23)
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
Divided attention. Is your vision fully on Jesus?
III. Kingdom Loyalty (vs. 24)
24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
Divided allegiance. Is your commitment fully with Jesus?
IV. Kingdom Trust (6:25)
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?
i. Life and Food (vs.26-27) 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
Pursuit of the kingdom takes priority over anxiety about food.
We learn this lesson from the natural creation. Birds don’t worry.
ii. Body and Clothes (vs.28-30) 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?
Pursuit of the Kingdom takes priority over clothing.
We learn this lesson again from the natural creation. Flowers don’t worry.
b. Live Right (vs.31-32) 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
c. Keep the Main Thing, the Main Thing (vs.33) 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
d. Don’t Worry (vs.34) 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Worry is a barometer of your trust in God.
If you want to know how well you are trusting God, check your worry gauge.
Questions to Contemplate:
- Which verses in this section challenged your heart?
- Why do you think we struggle sometimes to privately, generously and spontaneously give?
- What is going well in your prayer life? What is challenging for you?
- Do you use the Lord’s Prayer as part of your everyday prayers?
- How is praying effected by bitterness and lack of forgiveness toward others?
- Where is it most tempting to have a “divided heart” toward God?
- On a scale of 1-10 (10 is high stress), where is your “Worry Level”?
- Of all the principles tonight, which will you work on this week?
But, what do you think?