Matthew 6:19-24 Reading

Matthew 6:19-24

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. 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! 24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

A few thoughts for meditation:

In this next section on the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus turned his attention to perhaps the most common idol of humanity, wealth. First, he called disciples to make a new investment decision, to store up treasures in heaven, rather than on earth. Earthly treasures will perish for one reason or another. And even if you succeed in gathering all the treasures you want in this life, you will leave them behind at death, and they will be dispersed to others. Better instead to store up treasures in heaven. This builds on what Jesus said earlier about “rewards” for sincere worship. You store up heavenly treasure by investing your time and energy in what has eternal significance before God; a life of obedience and good works, suffering for Christ’s name, working toward forgiveness and reconciliation, etc. You strive to make your own contribution in serving the kingdom of God with the gifts and opportunities that Christ has invested in you. You strive to be the faithful husband, wife, parent, worker, church member, and neighbor that God calls you to be, trusting that whatever hardships you endure will be far surpassed by the joys of being with God and his people in the end.

Jesus then singled out the heart behind the pursuit of wealth or God. You will pursue what you treasure most. “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” What you value most is the true object of worship in your heart, no matter what you say with your words. We saw before how Jesus confronted the “hypocrites” about their false worship. They claimed to worship God but really were worshiping the praise of men. Here, Jesus made a similar point. You may claim to worship the Lord and even publicly give thanks to him for all the wealth you have, but if you are living for your wealth, that is your true god and master, not the Lord. Jesus then explained the implications when you try to divide your loyalty between God and money. It’s like trying to put one eye on God and one eye on money. It divides your vision and basically makes you blind. Rather than having “good eyes” focused singularly on the Lord, your eyes are dysfunctional, causing blindness and darkness within. Your love of money is going to hinder your professed love to the Lord. For example, you will be selfish and stingy when you should be generous and compassionate. Or you will be reluctant to give up earthly wealth for the kingdom because you trust it too much to give you comfort and security rather than God.

Jesus then finished the point moving from the pictures of treasure and vision to slavery. You cannot serve two masters, money and God. The tension creates problems in your heart. They offer different wages and require different standards of faithfulness that conflict with each other. For example, if you are serving money, then you will be tempted to work on the Lord’ Day unnecessarily and compromise your obligations to the Lord in order to make that extra effort for more money. You will despise the Lord for getting in the way of your pursuit of money. Or the opposite can be true; you will hate your money-making venture for getting in the way of your worship of God. You can’t love and serve both. One must be subservient to the other. Your money must serve God or your will try to make God serve your pursuit of money. It’s important to note that Jesus portrayed both here as slave-masters, not just employers. You are in slavery to one or the other, whether you like it or not. If you love money, then you are a slave to money. If you love the Lord, you are a slave to him instead. Paul used the same picture in Rom 6:19; slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness. There is no middle ground. You cannot serve both with the singular whole-hearted devotion that each requires.

So, who do you love more? Jesus or money? Who do you trust to meet your needs? Who do you trust to keep you secure when trouble comes? When making career choices, what pursuit drive you more? What treasures are truly more important, the earthly or the heavenly? Which master truly loves you?

Matthew 6:16-18 Reading

Matthew 6:16-18

16 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 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.

A few thoughts for meditation:

In this section of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus finished his teaching on sincere worship with a correction for proper fasting. Fasting was a heightened form of prayer, where you would not eat food for a designated period of time, and devote that time instead to more prayer. It was a way to deny yourself and express your dependence upon God and provide more focus to the pressing burdens in your prayers. But this act of devotion and dependence over time became of mark of performance. “Hypocrites” turned the practice into a show to gain human applause, as they did with public giving and prayers. But that applause was the only reward they received for such fasting. God did not bless it or accept it. It was not a pursuit of God but a pursuit of self-promotion.

Jesus then taught the manner of true fasting. Instead of making it obvious to everyone that you are fasting, you should fast in “secret”, just like prayer and giving. It should be done for God’s eyes, not anyone else’s. So wash and dress like you normally do and go about your day without drawing attention to fact that you’re fasting. Obviously, you will have to explain to your family why you are not eating when you refuse the food they offer. But fasting is never done to impress others with your piety. Other than the special times of focused prayer “in secret” you go about your day as normal. Or perhaps you find a way to take a day off from work or get out of town for a period of time to fast and pray without drawing attention to yourself. This is sincere fasting, focusing your desires and attention upon God, not upon people’s approval.

Fasting is not commonly practiced today, at least in the evangelical world. But it is a part of legitimate biblical worship, both in private or public. The OPC Directory for Worship has a short section on fasting (pg. 167). Sometimes fasting was practiced on a more regular basis, which seemed to be the case Jesus had in mind here. But sometimes fasting was done when faced with great needs, public repentance, important decisions, or solemn occasions. In either case, it is a time to draw near to God with focused prayer about our particular concerns. Are you feeling overwhelmed by pressing trouble? Are you remorseful and repentant for some serious sins? Are you desiring to have a closer walk with God or seek to please him in some important matters? Perhaps consider taking some time for fasting and prayer.

Weekly Devotional Guide (June 8-13)

Memory Verse for the Week:

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Daily Scripture Readings

  • Day 1 Matthew 6:16-18
  • Day 2 Matthew 6:19-24
  • Day 3 Matthew 6:25-34
  • Day 4 Matthew 7:1-6
  • Day 5 Matthew 7:7-12

Hymns of the Week

  • Hymn: Speak Oh Lord (by Getty/Townsend)

Speak, O Lord, as we come to You To receive the food of Your Holy Word.
Take Your truth, plant it deep in us; Shape and fashion us in Your likeness,
That the light of Christ might be seen today In our acts of love and our deeds of faith.
Speak, O Lord, and fulfill in us All Your purposes for Your glory.

Teach us, Lord, full obedience, Holy reverence, true humility;
Test our thoughts and our attitudes In the radiance of Your purity.
Cause our faith to rise; cause our eyes to see Your majestic love and authority.
Words of pow’r that can never fail— Let their truth prevail over unbelief.

Speak, O Lord, and renew our minds; Help us grasp the heights of Your plans for us—
Truths unchanged from the dawn of time That will echo down through eternity.
And by grace we’ll stand on Your promises, And by faith we’ll walk as You walk with us.
Speak, O Lord, till Your church is built And the earth is filled with Your glory.

  • Trinity Hymnal 447 Christ For the World We Sing

1 Christ for the world we sing; the world to Christ we bring
with loving zeal: the poor and them that mourn,
the faint and overborne, sin-sick and sorrow worn, whom Christ doth heal.

2 Christ for the world we sing; the world to Christ we bring
with fervent pray’r: the wayward and the lost,
by restless passions tossed, redeemed at countless cost from dark despair.

3 Christ for the world we sing; the world to Christ we bring
with one accord: with us the work to share,
with us reproach to dare, with us the cross to bear, for Christ our Lord.

4 Christ for the world we sing; the world to Christ we bring
with joyful song: the newborn souls whose days,
reclaimed from error’s ways, inspired with hope and praise, to Christ belong.

Matthew 6:9-15 Reading

Matthew 6:9-15

9 Pray then like this: “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 also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. 14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

A few thoughts for meditation:

After providing guidance on genuine prayer, Jesus turned his attention to the content of prayer. What should a righteous man prayer for? Jesus provided a guide for the main themes which our prayer life should have. There are 6 petitions; the first 3 focused upon God glory, and second 3 focused upon our needs. Then Jesus finished stressing the final note of forgiveness. In this outline alone, we see the priorities of our requests in prayer; God’s glory and kingdom is more important than our personal needs, and we want him to be glorified in the way he meets our personal needs. But too often our prayers are lopsided, focusing too much upon or own needs. As we saw before, prayer is a means through which we enjoy communion with God. We come to spend time with him, not just ask him for things. A true disciple and child wants God himself, not just the blessings he provides. The prayer begins with “our Father”, stressing the gift of adoption. This is a relationship to God we have only by grace, through the work of Christ. By calling God Father, we are also calling to mind all that God did to make it possible for sinners like us to call him “Father”. By calling him Father, it stresses our dependence upon him, but it also reminds us of the nurture and care he provides, and the affection he has for us.

The first three petitions address God’s name, kingdom, and will. “Hallowed be thy name” is a petition of praise. You honor and praise God for his greatness, glory, and holiness. Our prayers should begin with worship and awe. With “Thy kingdom come”, we pray that God’s saving power would advance into the world to save sinners, correct injustices, and promote reconciliation with God and man. The kingdom has already broken into this world through Christ, and it is expanding as more and more people are saved. So we pray for that work to continue. With “thy will be done”, we pray that the earth will be brought into complete subjection to God the way heaven is. Right now, there are forces of rebellion and resistance to God. through this petition we are praying for God to subdue those forces. Ultimately, we are praying for God to accomplish his plan of redemption and usher in the return of Christ and the age to come.

The next three petitions address our food, forgiveness, and faithfulness. In “Give us the day our daily bread”, we ask that God would provide for all our necessities. In the ancient world, poverty was common, and many people did not know where their next meal would come from. This was a literal prayer for some. By this petition, we recognize our utter dependence upon God for every good thing when enjoy. Next, ” forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” In this petition we acknowledge we are sinners. In seeking forgiveness, we must confess specifically what sin we need forgiveness for. This is a regular prayer, so we should be in the habit of self-examination and repentance. But this hope of forgiveness also comes with an obligation to be forgiving. God’s children learn to forgive like he does. If God is willing to forgive our sins, no matter how great they are, then we must learn to forgive others too, and surrender the desire for personal revenge. Finally, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Here, we ask God to enable us to be faithful, to give us the wisdom and power to resist temptation. This is a recognition of our condition in spiritual warfare against our own sinful desires, the influence of a sinful world, and the spiritual forces of evil led by Satan. All these influences conspire to lead us astray from God and into spiritual self-destruction and we must depend upon God to help us remain faithful. That is part of living by faith, trusting God to provide what you need, as you wrestle and obey.

Jesus closed the prayer with a final word about the importance of forgiveness. Those who refuse to forgive, show they have not truly experienced forgiveness themselves from God. The point of God’s work of redemption was to bring about reconciliation between God and man, to repair the destruction created by sin. Those who are reconciled to God through Christ and call him Father are now agents of God’s mercy to others. A refusal to forgive keeps that sinful rift open between men and frustrates the work of the gospel. Jesus will teach more later about the necessity for repentance in order for reconciliation to be achieved. There’s no true reconciliation without repentance. But the move toward reconciliation begins with a willingness to forgive, a willingness to not hold an offenders sin against them anymore, and instead to trust God to punish as he sees fit. True disciples are willing to forgive and repair the relationship whenever an offender desires to change. That is what God did for us, and as his children, we should be willing to do that for others. This is a fitting conclusion to the matter of prayer. Through prayer, we enter into the labor of God’s kingdom, calling upon God to advance his saving power into our own proud and sinful hearts as well as the world around us. And God has chosen to work through our prayers to accomplish his purposes. In other words, if you want to see God’s saving power and glory advance in our community, then get on your knees every day and ask him.

Matthew 6:1-8 Reading

Matthew 6:1-8

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. 2 “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 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. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when 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. 7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

A few thoughts for meditation:

After dealing with our conduct among men, Jesus turned his attention to worship What does genuine worship look like? What does a righteousness greater than the Pharisees look like in our worship practice? As before, Jesus cut straight to the heart of the matter, our motives for the worship practices we perform. In this case he focused on giving tithes and prayer. If you practice these things for the purpose of drawing attention to yourself, they are rejected by the Father. And this motive may not be obvious. You may not be as brazen in your desire for praise as the examples Jesus gave here. It may just be a more secret desire for bragging rights, a secret self-righteous smugness while going through the motions but under the guise of humility, a secret desire to be “caught” doing the right thing by others. But God knows our hearts and has “no reward” for religious performers. Instead, your focus and desire is to know and please God.

Jesus began with the act of giving. First, notice Jesus expected his disciples to give tithes. “WHEN you give…”.The solution to hypocritical giving is not to stop giving at all, but to give with the right motives. You give out of love and gratitude to God and a genuine concern for the needy who benefit from it. You “do not blow the trumpet”. There is debate about what practice is actually meant here. Most likely it referred to public calls for giving in times of need, what we might call a “special” offering or collection today. At these times, the “hypocrites” arrived to make a show of their gifts, trying to deceive themselves or their audience about the greatness of their generosity and virtue. But, Jesus called for “secret” giving in public, giving in such a way that you do not draw attention to yourself more than others, nor to the amount that you are giving. You give to serve God and meet the current need, not to gain applause for yourself.

Jesus then provided the same kind of correction to prayer. The hypocrites pray in ways that they will be noticed by others in prominent public places and with many eloquent words. This is not a criticism of public prayers. For example, praying “in the synagogue” was a normal role for leaders. But what are you seeking with your public prayer? Praise for yourself? Or a genuine desire to bring the needs of the people before God? If you are seeking the applause or approval of others, that will be your only reward. God will not accept your prayer. Instead, Jesus called us to “secret” prayer. If you pray in public but never in private, you likely are one of these hypocrites. True prayer desires communion with the Father. So, go spend time behind closed doors with him and pray. Go someplace where you will not be found by others. And notice again, Jesus expected his disciples to pray, “WHEN you pray…”. The solution to hypocritical prayer is not to stop praying but to offer genuine prayer. And do not try to impress or manipulate God with the length or eloquence of your prayers. In pagan worship, much weight is put on the form or repetition of the words in order to “break through” to their preferred god. But the Father already knows what you need and has a plan to meet it. Don’t waste words trying to convince or manipulate him. This principle applies to public prayer as well. As Solomon said “let your words be few” (Ecc 5:2). Offer suitable enough words to respect and acknowledge the greatness of God as our Father and King and then bring petitions for the people simply and honestly. Don’t mount up needless repetitions or unnecessary fancy words or phrases. God already knows our needs. Sincerely offer your petitions to the King and trust him to take care of you and those you are praying for.

Such is the kind of giving and prayer which the Father will “reward”. The reward of men is their fickle temporary praise. But the “reward” from the Father is deeper. Jesus doesn’t specify the nature of the reward here. But later in the chapter he specifies laying up “treasures in heaven” rather than on earth. And even later, he taught about the reward of praise from God, “well done, good and faithful servant” (Matt 25:21). The rewards of faithful worship may not translate into material blessings in this life like fame or possessions. But it does translate into a closer walk with God both now and in eternity. True disciples worship God to have more of God himself, not to have more stuff from God.