Jesus had just spent time telling what thou shalt not do. Now we see him advising on how to do things that they were already doing; giving, praying, fasting…even worrying. Remember that every time Jesus says hypocrites, he means Pharisees. Jesus is showing them how they can be better, more righteous that the Pharisees. I find this comforting. For me this is a statement made to our hearts. It’s Jesus feeling our inadequacy in righteousness and whispering “they don’t even do it right. I don’t want you to do it like them. I want you to do it like me.”
Again these are all things about the heart. What is your motive? Who are you doing this for? Why are you doing it this way?
- How much you give is between you and the Lord. Great or small, do it without fanfare.
- Your prayers…they are for, to, about God. No need to be loud and/or long. A whispered single word can be more powerful than a well thought out, prepared recitation. The Lord’s Prayer is a model. A pattern to follow. Jesus said like this, not repeat after me. This prayer is not a substitution for our own prayers. That’s not to say it does not have its time and place. I just think God wants more from us. He wants it to be personal. He knows what we need and want, but he wants to hear it from us. There are a lot of things I could do for my kids that I know they want or need from me, but I’m not going to automatically do them. That’s how things get taken for granted.
- We are real good at separating earth and heaven or spiritual and material. Jesus really didn’t do that. He wanted our spirit to guide our flesh not be in a separate compartment for use when we felt like it. It is fine to want things. No, you can’t take it with you, but you can enjoy it while you are here. The problem comes when material/earthly things become more important than God. You can’t serve both. Could you give it all up?
The Pharisees were all about receiving praise for their actions. They wanted and liked the production they gave to show their piety and blessings. That applause would be the only reward they got.
And then in his precious way, Jesus says don’t worry! He knows me… I mean us so well. He says God’s got you. Look at the prayer I just gave you. I know what you need. Rely on me.
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