Gospel of Matthew Chapter Six Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
Have Faith In Him
Verses 1-4: "Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. 2 So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you." History is full of people who swindled others, doing horrible things, getting rich in the process and then becoming philanthropic in later years. Many cities contain their statues, dedicated to those who practiced a belated "righteousness before men to be noticed by them." Unfortunately for hypocrites everywhere, God has noticed them, too. They've received all the honor they will get, and such false righteousness will be dishonored in eternity. If you give to someone or some organization as the Holy Spirit has prompted you, just do it and don't be concerned if you are not noticed for your generosity. "Your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you."
Verses 5-8: "When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. 7 And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. 8 So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him." As it was in the preceding verses about giving to the needy, it also is with prayer. Look at your motives. You're not giving or praying in order to be seen and admired by others; in reality you have an audience of One and His Name is God. Prayer is the calling out of the soul to Him who hears you. It does not have to be lengthy or repetitious in order to be heard—prayer is best when it is from the heart, simple and filled with trust in the One who loves you. Notice that God already knows what is needed. True prayer is an act of faith, expressing belief in the Lord. His answer may not be precisely the way you expect it, with responses like "No, Yes, or Wait," and the form of His "Yes" answer may be unexpected. But remember Luke 18:1—People "always ought to pray and not lose heart." Keep it simple and keep on praying. He hears—and answers.
Verses 9-13: "Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. (For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.)" This is what we call "the Lord's prayer," and it is beautiful. He already told us, in Verse 7 to not use prayers, including this one, as "meaningless repetition," and so it is actually a model, teaching us how to pray. We are reasonably to start our prayer in praise to God. He is worthy of our praise, for as we discover Him more and more, we find that He is wonderful and we love Him. Noting that humanity is a rough bunch, it makes sense to call for the soon return of our Lord to this world. And finally the needs of ourselves and loved ones are expressed, which the Lord knows about anyway—but your Father loves it when you ask Him. And then we note that, as sinners in a sinful world, we need 1) to be forgiven, and 2) we've been hurt, so we need to forgive others. It's obvious that temptation surrounds us, so we ask Him to keep us out of temptation and "deliver us from evil." The world is His, and He has the power to protect us.
Verses 14-15: "For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions." Forgiveness is critical to our growth in faith, hope, love and in every good and perfect need. Do you hate somebody? They may hate you also, or they may not even know that you hate them. What is your motive in disliking somebody? Is jealousy a factor? Scottish minister Thomas Chalmers said, “Unforgiveness is the poison we drink, hoping that the other person will die.” Forgiveness will heal you. Unforgiveness destroys you, and worst of all, "your Father will not forgive your transgressions." There's something bent inside all of us. We all need to be healed, and forgiving others as God leads, is a big step down His holy road to restoration and peace.
Verses 16-18: "Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 17 But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face 18 so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you." I attended a get-together of a Christian group in Tucson, Arizona, some years ago, at the home of a lovely married couple. Another person arrived and was asked by the wife, "Would you like something to eat?" The emphatic response was, "No, I'm fasting!." I was struck by the smugness and pride that radiated out of the person. It was on his face and in his voice. A better response could have been a simple, "No thank you." If you're going without food because you want to be closer to God and feel He has led you to do it—that's great—but if it's done so people will think you're special, you've missed the point. Let your Father see your sincere, faithful acts, and HE "will reward you."
Verses 19-21: "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." We came into this world as biological creatures who need food to eat, water to drink, air to breathe and more. Humanity has invented money as a means of buying things, and we pretend it has value, though it's just paper and bits of metal with words scribbled on it. Gold and diamonds have no value at all, except we pretend such value exists. You may or may not be a billionaire, but history has proven that your riches may be gone in a moment, moth-eaten, rusted away, burned and taken by thieves or invading armies. Our Treasure must be the Lord, for no one else can truly help in time of trouble. Go to the Lord in faith—He will save you—forever.
Verses 22-23: "The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!" Our values are mostly poor. Members of humanity tend to want financial security, health, good reputation, success, physical love and more. When you come into the world, "your eye is bad..." You want everything and think it's your right to have whatever you want. "Darkness" includes taking from others in order to have it yourself. And so much of what we call "understanding," is actually darkness pretending to be light. Jesus said, "I am the light of the world" (John 8:12). In a world of the blind, He is the One who can see. Put your hand in His. He will lead you out of darkness and into the Light.
Verses 24-25: "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. 25 For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?" You work to provide your own physical needs, which may expand to include the needs of a spouse and children. Many have noticed that our quest for money, our love of some line of work or profession, can actually become like "masters" that rule us. We want people to like the way we look, sound and dress, hoping at least that we will be respected. Such desires become like drugs that we can't stop taking. Listen to the Lord Jesus and stop worrying so much about your life. God has given you life, and you don't have to become slovenly—just take a time out and start to trust in Him.
Verses 26-27: "Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27 And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?" God could have created you as a guppy, a worm, a snail or a fruit fly. Instead you are a man or woman with the potential to be a son or daughter of God. It's time to notice the birds as they flit from tree-to-tree, understanding that God loves you even more than those little creatures—and if He feeds them, which He does, He will provide for you, too. Look up from your worries and troubles and trust in the Lord—you'll be eternally glad that you did. Mere worry will not prolong your life.
Verses 28-30: "And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!" Wander into a flower shop and notice the simple beauty of those flowers. They didn't just happen to be that way. God created them for many purposes, but now He wants you to see that just as surely as the Lord makes them beautiful, He is doing a beautiful work in your life, though you may not see it yet. He will clothe you, feed you, and provide for your every need in ways that have often been too deep to understand. Even His "No" answer to prayer can be "Yes" to something much greater. You of little faith have the potential to be of great faith, which is the key to everything. Trust in Him.
Verses 31-34: "Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Trust in Him. As He so clearly says, "Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." Place your faith in Him and stop worrying so much. Your Father sees you, He knows your need and He is providing for you, even though you may think you are doing it for yourself. For years, I worried about everything, but as I look back, I see His deliverance in innumerable places I did not perceive at the moment. I remember three distinct times when I went for literally half a year without income and God brought us through... somehow. I really don't know how He did it, but I was there and He did it. I have learned and am still learning faith in His hand of deliverance during times of need. Take your concerns about the future to Him. He is already in the future and knows the outcome of everything. Have faith in Him—He will bring you through.
Father, my tendency has been to do it myself instead of trusting in You. I really have wanted the admiration of others, when, in fact, You always were and are—my true need. I'm sorry, Lord. I trust in You. I am Yours. In Jesus Name. Amen.