In Matthew 5:16 Jesus said, “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Yet in verse 1 of this chapter he says not to do your acts of righteousness before men. What is the difference? It is partly in the motive.
In chapter 5 the motive was to have people see that your deeds were done because of your Father in Heaven. But below, Jesus teaches that the motive should not be “to be seen by” men. It can be a tough line to navigate. It is easy to let pride creep into our good deeds and our giving. Are we doing it for God’s glory or ours?
Giving to the Needy
1“Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
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 men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 3But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
There are many important lesson on prayer in the next passage. Again, motive is important. Prayer in public or in groups is fine, but not if we are doing it to be “seen by men.” And our prayers don’t have to be long and eloquent. Consider how brief the Lord’s prayer is.
God knows what we need before we ask him, but Jesus tells us to pray anyway. There may be a lingering mystery as to why we would need to pray if He knows what we need, but we are clearly told to pray anyway. We can trust that there is an important purpose behind it.
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 men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 6But 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. 7And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
9“This, then, is how you should pray:
” ‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
11Give us today our daily bread.
12Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’ 14For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
16“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 17But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18so that it will not be obvious to men 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.
Treasures in Heaven
19“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
We are not told exactly what it means to store up “treasure in Heaven,” but we can trust that it isn’t just marketing spin. If Jesus says it we can trust that we’ll be truly glad that we did so.
Consider the truth of “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” If you own a lot of stock in one company, think of how often you check that stock price. If you give to a mission in a particular country, consider how much more often you think of that country.
22“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
24“No one can serve two masters. 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 both God and Money.
Do Not Worry
Jesus talks a lot about worry. Worry is a sin that we all commit. Ironically, worry eats up our life instead of adding to it. There is a difference between planning and worry, though. Saying, “Don’t worry,” isn’t an excuse to be reckless.
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 important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look 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? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
28“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If 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, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
If we seek his kingdom and righteousness first then everything else will fall into place.
What passages stood out to you, and why?