January 8th Matthew 6
Almsgiving in secret
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. 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. 3: But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: 4: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
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. 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. 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. 9: After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10: Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11: Give us this day our daily bread. 12: And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 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. 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.
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.
Christ is very concerned that the works of righteous of the Jews are not performed for the praise of men, because this distracts the giver from the motive of benevolence to the motive of pride and thus spoils a good work. The same is true of prayer. So often the public prayers of Israel degenerated into ‘show prayers’ which say - look at me! Christ takes the Jewish Kaddish and adds to it a personal section expressing our need of Gods intervention. However the prayer remains firmly rooted in Judaism and its focus is on the coming kingdom. Lastly Christ speaks about the Jewish custom of fasting and again the emphasis is on fasting before God rather than before men. The reward that the Jew seeks is only given to those whose minds are pure.
- What was the main mistake that the Scribes and Pharisees made about their law in this passage?
- How does Christ correct their thinking?
- What are your thoughts on the Lords prayer?