Matthew 6:1-15, December 22, 2019
It is All About Your Heart
Review – Chapter five concluded with six examples that had to do with your heart. Murder begins with anger in your heart. Adultery begins with lust in your heart. Divorce begins with selfishness and a hard heart. Oaths are only necessary if you have a lying heart. Revenge is only necessary if you do not have a forgiving heart – more on this today. Loving your enemies is made possible only by the condition of your heart – more on this today as well.
6:1-4 Giving is a matter of your heart. Do you want recognition from God or from people? If you are really seeking recognition only from men and women you have no reward from your Father in heaven. If your giving is from your heart and is part of your true worship of God, then it results from the desire to serve Him and not people. Thus Jesus provides a warning of how we are NOT to serve our heavenly Father if we desire heavenly rewards. We are not to give for public giving as in verse four, instead do giving in secret for rewards in heaven from God the Father.
Notice – this does not mean it is wrong to give systematically, using church envelopes or checks to receive tax deductible receipts. However it does mean that this should not be the only way one gives. There are plenty of examples in the bible of planned giving, but we have to be careful we are not congratulating ourselves on how much we are giving in comparison to others or simply in our own mind – our heart.
When the widow gave all she had (Luke 21:1-4), two small copper coins, she did it to please God while trusting God in faith to supply her needs while she helped others. Christians likewise are to give not to receive rewards, but so that the love in our hearts for God might be expressed who it turns out will reward us in heaven.
Again these do not condemn public giving, but clearly speak against giving with the wrong motive or attitude. Choosing how you will give is determined by your hear.
6:5-8 When and Where you pray is a matter of your heart. Note first Jesus is not condemning public prayer, but the misuse of it. If, when you pray in public, you pray with the purpose of being seen and heard by others then you have joined the hypocrites Jesus spoke about. Acts 12:12 provides an example of public prayer that is not being misused. Still the idea of an ‘inner room’ or a ‘prayer closet’ is to ensure you have removed any distractions that might hinder your prayer and allows you to pour out your heart to God.
One commentary added ‘It is the experience of private devotional prayer that really prepares one to pray effectively in public. And most people who say they cannot pray in public do not pray effectively in private either.‘ Want to pray effectively, then pray and then pray again and again and again. It may take awhile to become comfortable talking with your Creator and finding out what is in your heart that you want to talk with Him about. God is not impressed with words, but with the genuine outpouring from your heart. The more time we spend in prayer, the more we are brought into one accord and agreement with His will.
6:9-15 How are we to pray as Jesus shows is a matter of your heart as well. What is the purpose of prayer? Prayer is an act of spiritual expression that brings us into spiritual conformity to the purpose and will of God. What we often call the Lord’s Prayer is in reality a disciple’s prayer given as an example or sample of spiritual prayer. The beginning ‘Our Father’ is uncommon to the prayers found in the Old Testament thus Jesus is providing a Christian prayer for His followers The Lord’s Prayer opens with a preface and then seven distinct sections/petitions and concludes with an amplification of the 5th section or petition. Hallowed is sacred and holy, pure without blemish.
Looking at the Lord’s Prayer we see a sentence that is not included in the oldest manuscripts:
….so we will look at the prayer without that sentence
Forgive us our debts (v12) refers to sins, which are our moral and spiritual debts to God’s righteousness. Followed by as we have forgiven NOT because we have forgiven. Forgiveness is the evidence of a repentant or of a new heart or as John the Baptist would say, fruit of repentance (3:8).
Why is this forgiveness of those who have sinned against us so important that Jesus amplifies it in the final two verses? Let’s take a look at Matthew 18:23-35 to gain an understanding.
Our debt to God is so great anyone’s debt to us is insignificant in comparison. Jesus makes this clear in Mark 11:25.
Then let’s see what Spurgeon says about this:
And then Chuck Smith
And finally Stott quoted in Carson and in David Guzik’s commentary
What will we do? Will we forgive? Will we acknowledge our sin against God is greater than ANY SIN against us?