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At the center of secret things is our heart. What is going on in there? Is it faith in the Almighty God, creator of heaven and earth? What I mean to say, is that when you are in secret, when you have secret thoughts, are thoughts dominated by the reality that God is and that He is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Do you believe that to be true on Sunday afternoon? How about on Monday? Do you believe it on Thursday?
When the worries of the world rise up to confront you, can you calm your fears with faith in Jesus? If so, then you are trusting in heavenly riches. If not, then your treasures are on Earth and they are sure to rust and fade away.
Keep in mind, here, that we are trying to get to know Jesus. Jesus says something here that are very uncomfortable. He has just issued blessing in the beatitudes and now He is issuing warnings. If you find in your secret place, greed, worry, a desire to please men, then beware. You may gain all of those things on the Earth and miss Heaven.
But He also says some very comfortable words. If you having nothing but God, then you have all that is needful. But you have to actually believe this is true in order to possess that great treasure of earthly peace. Do you believe this? Are you prone to worry, like Martha? Or, are you at peace at the feet of Jesus, like Mary?
Matt. 6:1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
Jesus makes a bold and categorical statement here. If you desire is to have the praise of men, you have it, but you have no reward with God. Jesus does not say that your reward of your Father in heaven is diminished. He says it is completely lost.
Why? He gives the answer in verse two.
2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
It is hypocritical to say that you believe in God and seek His favor and then seek the acclaim of men. The reason such men have no reward is heaven is that they are not going to heaven. They are hypocrites. They really do not love God.
This should call us up short. Such men do their good deeds openly and publicly. They do them as religious good deeds but God says that they do not belong to Him.
3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:
This simply means do your alms secretly. There are times when your giving or your good deeds will be noticed publicly. Do not worry about that. But do not do them so that they will be noticed publicly. If you can, do them secretly. Do them so that the only one who could notice is God. This shows whether you really believe that there is a God who notices.
4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
Secret alms, open reward. The hypocrites desire the acclaim of men. A faithful Christian desires to please God. A hypocrite gets open honor but loses the honor of God. A faithful Christian receives the honor of God and then God also openly rewards him. God rewards him with spiritual blessings, financial blessings, even honor of men. He makes him honored in the gate. But in order for this all to work, one believe that He is and that He is the rewarder of men.
Matt. 6:5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
Prayer works the same way. God is in heaven and you are on earth, therefore let your words be few. We seem to get this all backwards. Men are within earshot, God is far away, therefore let your words be big and many.
There is a place for public prayer. Jesus is not outlawing it. But we should always pray to God and not to men. Also, our prayers should not be sermons that are consumed by men. We should not show off our Bible knowledge, our vocabulary, our endurance. If we really believe that God hears and answers, our prayers should be to Him who knows all things.
Hypocrites show off to impress men. They do impress them and that is their reward.
6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
The implication here is that hypocrites pray in public, not in secret and that the faithful pray in secret and do not worry about public prayer. How is your prayer closet? Do you pray privately? Do you believe that the Father meets you there to answer your prayers? Do you believe that your private prayers affect your public person?
7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. 8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.
Jesus is referring to prayers that are like mantras, a repeated word or phrase said over and over again to appease God. We ought not to repeat a word or phrase over and over. Jesus says this, then He gives us a prayer to say and one that is also a model prayer.
Matt. 6:9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
God is holy. Remember His holiness. He is in Heaven and you are on Earth, therefore let your words be few.
10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Jesus is announcing the kingdom. We should agree with Him and ask God to establish His heavenly kingdom on Earth.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
Our provision comes from God. In the ancient world as in today’s third world, this prayer is a clear reminder that we need God to provide for us. Many need their food replenished daily or they go hungry. In our world, the connection is somewhat less clear. We have refrigerators and freezers full of food. But God still gives our sustenance to us. You should pray this prayer at least daily.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
Since we pray this prayer daily, we should remind ourselves daily that we are forgiven sinners. This enables us to forgive those that have sinned against us. We should also be willing to forgive debts and sins just as our debts and sins have been forgiven. Who has offended you? Forgive them. Who owes you? Write it off.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
The world, the flesh and the devil are full of temptation. May God deliver us from them. One of the great temptations of the devil is to refuse to forgive. He is the accuser of the brethren. He always has a charge to lay at the feet of the elect. It is God who justifies. So part of the deliverance from temptation is what is mentioned previously in this Lord’s prayer. Forgive. Cancel debts. Do not remember sins against the brothers. Do not accuse. Do not listen to accusers. Accusers of the saints are doing the devil’s work.
The internet is full of such accusers of the brothers. Some godly men are accused, often by others who claim to be Christians themselves. The accusers might be Christians but they are acting like the devil. Do not be led into such temptations. Stay far from them.
Why? Because the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ. Kingdom people should not act like this. God’s kingdom will not tolerate such accusers. It will not tolerate unforgiveness and accusation. He is the one who gives power over the devil. Our work should be to do His glory.
If we, who are of the light, participate in the darkness, then our darkness is shown to be utterly dark. Such dark lights will be extinguished.
14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
This verse shows us that temptations are about bitterness, envy, accusation, unforgiveness. He sandwiches forgiveness around temptations. God has forgiven you, therefore forgive. If you do not forgive, you show that you do not belong to God.
If you refuse to forgive and let things go, then whatever God has forgiven you will be retained. You will go to the grave in your sins. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
What is going on in the secret places of your heart? Are you retaining sins? Are you accusing the brothers? Is there envy? Bitterness? Let it go. Forgive for you have been forgiven.
Matt. 6:16 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; 18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.
There is a place for fasting. The purpose is to focus on prayer to God. That should be done in secret, so your fasting should be done in secret. What is the purpose of a public fast? Is it not to gain the acclaim of men? Particularly, the purpose is to show men how spiritual you are. If you do this, you gain their approval but profit nothing from the approval of God. God is not pleased with public fasting.
From time to time, we have called for a church-wide fast. To that extent, if I have called for it, you know that I am fasting. Perhaps I lose my reward. That depends on how and why I am fasting. I might be calling the fast to show you how spiritual I am. In that case, I have my reward. But for the rest of you, there is no public display. You respond in secret. You skip meals and pray to God. Do so with a cheerful countenance. Make sure that no one but perhaps your immediate family knows you are fasting. Let God see and reward.
What is His open reward? Answered prayer. Closeness to Him. Honor, riches, favor with enemies, peace in your own heart. God’s rewards are manifold.
Matt. 6:19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
This verse is not changing the subject. We are to lay up treasures for ourselves in the place where treasures last forever. Heaven. If you lay up for yourselves earthly treasures, they will perish. God’s rewards are heavenly treasures.
Is your heart in heaven? Or, is with being honored among worldly men? Think about this for a minute. Many of us strive for masteries in work, education, various hobbies. Why do we do this? Do we do this to be the best of a select group? Are we striving to stay ahead of those beneath us, so we can compare our excellence to all the ones behind us? That is earthly treasure. It will perish.
Or rather, do we seek to answer the first catechism, to glorify God and enjoy Him forever? Are we working to give Him glory? If so, we will work hard, we will work for a long time, we will work when no man is watching.
22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. 23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! 24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
Jesus now takes the application to a very earthly level. Greediness is a great detriment to godly living. An evil eye is one that is greedy of earthly gain. There is also the application leading back to the previous verses, succumbing to temptations. One of the reasons you would do this is so that you can benefit financially.
Do not take this too lightly. I have seen people whose great sin is that they really want stuff. They are willing to have stuff now and hell later. Seems like a bad trade to me but earthly comforts appeal to us right now and heavenly comforts seem a lifetime away. Jesus is saying that if you are in the light of Jesus and His Church but really you are seeking the things of the earth and not heaven, then you are not really light but darkness.
One warning here is for those who have something financial to gain from the body of the saints. I would put pastors at the top of the list. Are you serving for the sake of financial gain? Do you see your congregants primarily as tithers to support you? Are you more interested in those who give more? Are your people dollar signs?
But there are others in the body who benefit financially from the saints. Are you a real estate agent? Do you look at church people as potential clients? Are you a financial advisor or insurance salesmen? Do new members look like potential new clients? Are you a builder? Do your brothers and sisters in Christ look like dollar signs when you get to remodel their kitchens? There is a host of ways to sin. Beware.
Matt. 6:25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
Take no thought. Stop worrying about dinner. Stop worrying about your clothes. Stop worrying whether you will have a place to lay your head.
But I have a mortgage. But I have car payments. But I have debt. This is a problem. Once we have become slaves, it is near impossible to not worry. The master keeps worrying us with his demands. So, you must seek to free yourself from that slavery.
You are more than what you eat or drink. You are more than what you wear. You are more important to God than the animals and the plants and yet God feeds and clothes them all. Do you believe this? If so, then take no thought. Take NO thought. Stop worrying, today. Give us this day our daily bread, our monthly house payment, our money to work on debt reduction, our food, our clothes, all of our needs. Take NO thought.
26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? 28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
Is this not monumentally important? Jesus goes out of His way to teach us to take no thought. Solomon was not as glorious as a lily. God clothes the lilies and God will clothe you. Do fail to believe this is a crisis of faith.
31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
Do you worry about clothes? Do you worry about food? Do you worry about housing? Then Jesus says that you have little faith. The word can mean short in stature or short in duration. Is your faith small? Is your faith temporary? If so, confess to God your little faith and ask Him for big faith. Faith that trusts Him fully now and that lasts long.
33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
To seek God’s kingdom is to seek God. You are citizens of God’s kingdom. If you seek Him, then all of your needs are provided in Him. Take no thought for the morrow. God is there, too.