A Study of Matthew | Chapter 6
Verses 1-4 One of the main focuses of chapter 6 is to make sure we are not being self-centered, but God centered as well as focused on serving others. Jesus was explaining that when we give it should be out of love and sincerity not just to boast in what we are doing for others. This does not contradict Matt 5:16 because that verse was talking about the deeds we do being a natural reflection of Jesus and his light. Those should naturally shine for all to see. In this context Jesus was saying we should not do just to get recognition, but it should flow naturally because that is what Jesus followers do. This will actually cause God to receive the glory not us. When Jesus says do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, this is again referring to doing so out of pride. We should rally together as a people for expanding the Kingdom.
Verses 5-15 Jesus carries the same ideas toward prayer. When we pray we shouldn’t do it to draw attention to ourselves. We should be focused on God. The easiest way to do that is by secluding ourselves. Jesus often went away from others to pray. It is guesstimated that he may have prayed up to 5 hours in the mornings. Jesus did pray publicly and privately, so we can’t say he meant this is the only way to pray. Jesus tells us how to pray in verses 9-13. Let us break it down.
Our Father- The first thing we must understand is that prayer is not just something to do when we need stuff from God. The word ‘our’ expresses that we are to pray for others not just ourselves. The second word is Father. One meaning of Father is source. Any time we have issues or needs we should always go to the source of the solution.
In Heaven- We go to the father when we need outside interference. Myles Munroe define prayer as an earthly license for heavenly interference. God has given us certain abilities and direction to live our lives. When an ambassador needs help in a foreign land, they call home for their outside help. As ambassadors of Heaven we should do the same.
Hallowed be your name- We are to honor God because he is holy and set apart and above any other name. We honor him by proclaiming his greatness. We should recall all the wonderful things he has done for us and ways he has already blessed us. This also builds our faith in the requests we ask in the future.
May your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven- the Kingdom come phrase is debated among many scholars and theologians. What I have found in my studies and in context of all 4 gospels is that Jesus came to bring the Kingdom of God to earth where the Holy Spirit can move and do the will of the father through us. As we are led by the Spirit, he will guide us to fulfill the will of God.
Give us this day, our daily bread- Some interpret this to mean give us only what we need for today. Others believe this means give us at the least what we need for today. In the few times we saw Jesus feed people, they always had more than enough to feed themselves and those around them. It is important to point out Jesus once again uses a plural noun, ‘us’, which shows the focus was on the whole group of believers not just themselves. This can also include all the things that require having daily bread including the ingredients, the means to cook it, the energy and ability to cook it, etc.
Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors- We have already been told to settle our disputes before sacrificing to the Lord, and here we see that we should treat others how God has treated us, with forgiveness. We are able to forgive to the extent we realize we have been forgiven. 1 John 4:19 says “We love because he first loved us” Forgiveness is a part of love and is natural in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Lead us not into temptation but rescue us from the evil one.- We should always avoid temptation. The Lord will never tempt us to do evil. He has rescued us from an eternal damnation and here we should be asking God to help us avoid his trickery.
Why would Jesus tell us that if we don’t forgive others, then the Father will not forgive us? We are reflections of Christ and through the Holy Spirit we are also reflections of the Father. If we do not forgive, we are not reflecting His image. We love because he loved us first and we forgive because he forgave us first. Forgiveness is a sign of the kind of love Jesus told us to have for one another.
Verses 16-18 Again Jesus takes an aim at the heart of the pharisees about their fasting habits. Fasting is when you take a time period to not eat and pray instead. Many people still practice this today when seeking major life decisions. In those days, the Jews would fast every year on the day of Atonement. This is the Holiest day of the year in Judaism. It is a day of atonement and repentance and included a 25-hour fast with most of their time in a synagogue service. Aside from this, the Pharisees would fast two days a week to try to impress people with their “holiness.” Fasting was meant to be a private practice not to be announced to everyone to be praised for it. Jesus was simply telling them again to focus on the purpose of fasting and their Father in heaven would reward them way more than earthly praises could.
Verses 19-24 The word used for treasures can be used in a physical or spiritual context. Whatever we treasure is where our heart will be. Whatever you spend your time and resource on is where you usually find your treasure. Something you deeply care about is considered treasure. Jesus was telling us that the things we should treasure are the things this world cannot take away. Our treasures are within the Kingdom of God. Money was one of the most talked about topics for Jesus. This was because it is one of the biggest competitors of our hearts. There should be nothing that steals our service away from God. We should never act like we are doing for God what we are actually doing for money.
Verses 25-34 Jesus tells us not to worry about everyday needs like food, drink or clothing. This is referring to stressing over things. This does not mean not to plan. Later Jesus tells us we need to count the cost before building. 28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you,30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ Luke 14: 28-30. Another place in scriptures tell us: “Then the LORD said to me, "Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others.”” Habakkuk 2:2. Jesus is telling us not to stress about the everyday needs because the father has proven himself time and time again to his people that they would have what they need if they focus on his purpose for them. Our task to is seek the Kingdom of God. Jesus teaches about this throughout the Gospel in so many ways. The disciples were seeking the Kingdom. They would always ask for more revelation from Jesus after he told the parables because Jesus would hide the treasures in the messages. The parables were not broken down for everybody, but for those who were seeking to understand on another level. Diligently seek the Kingdom.