We have a lot that we can worry about in today’s world. Never mind the financial worries that are depicted in the graphic above, but we are also still in the middle of a pandemic. Yes, we have vaccines. However, we don’t know how long it will last. We don’t know if it will work against new strains. There’s still a lot we don’t know.
What about the economy? Some areas are reopening, some are still shut down. Some may never reopen. Will those people find new employment? What’s going to happen to all those closed businesses? Lots of questions, very few answers.
Here in Matthew 6, we continue with Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. He focuses here on vanity, pride, praying, fasting and lastly, worrying. The answer is actually very simple. Let’s dig in….
“Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. 2 When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. 3 But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. 4 Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
Teaching about Prayer and Fasting
5 “When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. 6 But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
7 “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as the Gentiles do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. 8 Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him! 9 Pray like this:
Our Father in heaven,
may your name be kept holy.
10 May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today the food we need
12 and forgive us our sins,
as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
13 And don’t let us yield to temptation,
but rescue us from the evil one.
14 “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. 15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.
16 “And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get. 17 But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. 18 Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
Giving, praying and fasting should be a regular part of our Christian lives. Everything that we earn, God has given us the opportunity to work for it. All He asks for in return that we give back — 10% of our income as a tithe, as well as serving Him with our time.
Our prayers should be conversations with God, our Father, Abba, Daddy. The Lord’s prayer is just an example. “Pray like this…” Jesus said. We honor Him, we seek Him, we are grateful, we ask for His provision and His protection. We are not supposed to babble on like “reciting the rosary” or saying 10 Our Father’s and 6 Hail Mary’s as penance. I remember rattling them off. They didn’t mean anything to me.
Fasting is depriving yourself of food or something meaningful. Sorry, but not eating meat on Fridays is not fasting. The first time I fasted, I had been unemployed for 3 months. I went on a liquid fast between Christmas and New Years. Instead of cooking, I read the Bible and I prayed. I studied. I prayed some more. Learning to trust in God alone isn’t easy. Moreover, as you read the Bible more and more, you get to know God better. He’s not some far off entity that you have to access through a priest or a church. No, He wants to be your friend and your personal savior. He wants to have a relationship with you. Continuing…
Teaching about Money and Possessions
19 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.
22 “Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. 23 But when your eye is unhealthy, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!
24 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.
25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for todayMatthew 6 NLT
Verse 19 really came alive for me after Hurricane Andrew in Miami in 1992. You couldn’t help but realize that everything that we see is temporary. It could be gone in one fell swoop. That’s why it’s important to store treasures in Heaven. When I changed my focus from being money-driven to being Spirit-driven, I started to see God’s hand in everything good that happened to me.
Learning to trust God is not easy. It doesn’t make sense. But, that is what Jesus is telling us here. The key is to seek the Kingdom of God first — above everything else. What does that mean? Start your day by reading the Bible and praying. Thank Him for another day. Ask Him for guidance for whatever you have to do. Seek His help, wisdom and guidance throughout the day. End your day with Bible study and prayer. When you put God first, He will reward you. He does provide for your every need. NEEDS — not wants! There’s a difference!
Where is Your Focus?
Who is your master? Money or God? If it’s money, you’ll worry forever because you’ll never have enough. If it’s God, you won’t have to worry, because you know He will provide. 2020 was a rough year for most people. There were months when I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to pay my rent or make my car payment. Oddly enough, the day before my car payment was due, I got a new client. That happened a lot. However, I still got anxious when I saw a bill’s deadline and there wasn’t enough in my bank account. Nevertheless, the money came in and the bill got paid.
There’s an old song that came to mind a few months ago that put me at ease and I allowed myself to stop being anxious. The video is below, but the chorus goes like this…
Great is thy faithfulness,William Runyan, T. O. Chisholm
Great is thy faithfulness,
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed thy hand hath provided.
Great is thy faithfulness,
Lord, unto me.
Do You Have a Personal Relationship with Jesus?
If you’re not sure if you’re saved or not, if you truly want to be born again and have the assurance of salvation, receive the Holy Spirit, and get a 1-way, non-stop ticket to Heaven after you die, or that you won’t be left behind at the Rapture, this is what you have to do…