Read Matthew 6
Giving to the Needy
6 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others 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 others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
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 others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But 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. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do 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,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others 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 others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others 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 moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, 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 you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
Do Not Worry
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 than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look 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? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If 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—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
In Matthew 6, we find a continuation of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, and it’s filled with practical application of walking in our faith. Today, we’re going to focus on forgiveness.
In the section discussing prayer, Jesus takes time to further clarify the important subject of forgiveness. He gives an example of how to pray in verses 9-13. In verses 14-15, Jesus immediately wants to clarify just one line out of the entire prayer. This should instinctively make us hone in on what Jesus says. Jesus understands man’s tendencies and nature from a creator’s standpoint and from self-experience. Jesus is using repetition to drive a point home! We must forgive one another in order to be forgiven.
One thing that makes forgiveness especially difficult is that the society around us encourages us in different ways not to forgive. This can be found in the media we consume where we see plots of movies and TV shows where people seek out revenge for wrongdoing. Sometimes, in seeking out good things like reform or change, we hold onto the injustices that have happened in a way that’s not forgiving. This makes it more critical to spend time in the Word to have truth constantly combating these daily lies we encounter.
Another thing that makes it difficult to forgive is when an offense is repeated against us. C.S. Lewis in The Weight of Glory explained, “It is perhaps not so hard to forgive a single great injury. But to forgive the incessant provocations of daily life —to keep on forgiving the bossy mother-in-law, the bullying husband, the nagging wife, the selfish daughter, the deceitful son—how can we do it? Only, I think, by remembering where we stand, by meaning our words when we say in our prayers each night ‘forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us.’ We are offered forgiveness on no other terms. To refuse it is to refuse God’s mercy for ourselves.”
Jesus wants there to be no doubt or confusion about what forgiveness entails. Jesus knew He would have to die on the cross to purchase the forgiveness of mankind. The reason Jesus seems to pause his sermon to clarify forgiveness is because He knows its importance!
- What sin against you have you found hard to forgive? Try to share this with your Life Group and pray over this.
- What helps you forgive others that have sinned against you?
- How do you pray? Do you pray the prayer found in verses 9-13?
By the Way
Scripture has a great deal to say about forgiveness. One of the most notable passages is Matthew 18 (which we’ll read in a couple of weeks) where Jesus and Peter have a discussion before Jesus tells us parable:
21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.
Jesus’s point is simple: Forgiveness should be normative for us. As we’ve been forgiven, we should forgive others as well because that’s the story of the Gospel.
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