Giving, Praying, Fasting Matthew 6:1-8, 16-18

Giving, Praying, Fasting Matthew 6:1-8, 16-18

     Chapter 5 deals with character (beattitudes), influence (light, shine), and righteousness (hate, faithfulness, your word, and love). Chapter 6:1-18 deals with your personal devotions to God in three areas – giving, praying and fasting. Note: “our Father, your Father, heavenly Father” is said 8x in 18 verses – Jesus is speaking to disciples/believers. Jesus knows that these disciples and the crowd listening already give alms, pray and fast. Jesus moves from back in forth from singular to plural in these verses-from general to an individual truth. Jesus assumes that people want and will be rewarded from the Father. Jesus is not speaking against public prayer. The law required regular public prayer and days of fasting. 

     What is Jesus teaching about these acts of service (giving, praying and fasting) to God? The answer is set in one word in each of these subjects. The word is “hypocrites” v. 2, 5, 16 and in 7:5

The key to understanding these three acts of righteousness is in verse 1. 

v. 1 “take heed” The great danger of a subtle sin is embedded in vain-glory and self–promotion.  James and John wanted to call down fire to destroy the Samaritans for not welcoming Jesus (Luke 9:53-55). If you really want man’s reward, Jesus says you already have it. The real question is, “Why am I doing this?”

     1. Giving –  Jesus is teaching about hypocritical giving (Jesus is referring to almsgiving). Jesus is talking about people who want to announce or keep track of how much giving of mercy that they do. Answer from Jesus-the unannounced and uncounted things done in secret, the Father will reward.

     2.  Prayer – Jesus is teaching about hypocritical praying. Jesus is not talking about worship in public setting. Public worship is commanded in the Scriptures. Jesus is referring to people who want to advertise their spirituality. His answer is to “go to your closet and shut the door.” If the door was open, they could still see you.

    3. Fasting – Jesus is teaching about their hypocritical fasting. Jesus is now dealing with individual people who want to elevate their reputation. Why does Jesus say put oil on your head and wash your face? Because the Pharisees didn’t do this as an act of their own righteousness before others. Jesus says when you fast, act normal and don’t advertise it.

 Two Summary Thoughts

1.   The good works that we take notice of, God takes the least notice of. The good works that God takes notice of, man takes the least notice of.    

2.   A godly reward is really having more of God.

 Three Spiritual Applications

1. Spiritual people can be hypocritical in their spirituality.

2. Spiritual exercises can be corrupted by wrong motives and have no reward with God.

3. Spiritual rewards can be lost if it is intended for the blessing of man.

Leave a Reply