MONDAY, APRIL 3
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 6
Today we are in the second of three chapters that make up this sermon we call The Sermon on the Mount. Interestingly, the topic of righteousness Jesus brought up in chapter 5 is still a prominent theme in chapter 6.
He begins in verse 1 by telling us that all kinds of righteousness will always be rewarded. He said if we practice our “righteousness” for the purpose of others seeing just how “righteous” we are, the compliments, pats on the back, and high fives are the reward. On the other hand, when we practice our “righteousness” for the purpose of helping others in such a way that glorifies God, He will reward us.
That doesn’t mean we have to do everything in the dark of night or in stealth mode or while wearing a ski mask. It means that when we step out to do something “righteous”, our motivation is the key. Are we doing it so others will see and congratulate us? Or are we doing it so that God will see and reward us even if others might inadvertently know what we are doing? The issue isn’t really if someone else sees us or not. Our actions can be good examples to others. The real issue is why we did it in the first place: for others to see and be impressed or for God to see and be glorified.
Because Jesus is such an amazing teacher, He knew we would probably need some examples to support this incredible teaching. So, in the next several verses, Jesus offers us at least three examples, all three beginning with “When you…” You can find these in verses 2, 5, and 16. The three examples He gives are about giving to the needy, praying, and fasting.
It is very interesting that Jesus chose the words, “When you…” He didn’t say, “If you…” but “When you…” In other words, Jesus is fully expecting us to engage in these three things. For Jesus it is not a matter of if we do these things. It is a matter of when we do these things. And since motivation is important, when we do these things, we need to do them with the right intention.
The only way we should give and pray and fast is so that God is our only audience. Again, that doesn’t mean others won’t see. They may very well see regardless of how secretive we are. It just means our intent was for God to be our only audience.
Jesus said in all three instances (giving, praying, fasting), if God was our intended audience, then God will be our rewarder. Of course the question is what is the reward. I don’t have a clue. But whatever God gives to me as a reward has to be something that is valuable otherwise it wouldn’t be a reward. It has to be something that is desirable otherwise I wouldn’t want it. It has to be something personal because in all three cases the Scripture says “will reward you”. This reward is something that God has just for you just for this occasion.
So, we are to live our lives to please an audience of One believing that the One who is the giver of all good gifts has something particularly good just for us.