Matthew Chapter 5 was so full of Jesus's teaching, and now, here in Chapter 6, there is even more of it! And one can not possibly read any of this, without being totally changed from the inside out! It's as if every verse is like looking into a mirror and seeing the very worst part of yourself!
I mean, get this - right at the beginning of Matthew Chapter 6 Jesus says "Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you." Matthew 6:1-4
Basically, Jesus is calling us out and telling us to stop acting like hypocrites! He does not even want us waving our ministry flags telling everyone how great our ministries are! He says that when we give to the needy we are NOT supposed to let everyone know what we give or how we give! In fact, the assumption is that we WILL give! That's not even the question! He doesn't say, "If you give to the poor." He says, "When you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing." Another words, if you are a follower of Christ, then you WILL give! And WHEN you give, do not pay attention to what you give or who you give or why you give - just give!
My God. This is such an eye opener for me! We live in a world where "social services" and "ministry resources" are marketed, volunteered and funded! In fact, I can't think of a ministry that is not broadcasted on social media, or marketed to say "Look at US and Look at what we do!" Every ministry I know does this - and the goal is always to attain more so that the ministry can do more.
And then I think of our Upper Room. I think of the women who humbly give of their time, treasure and love to care for a lady who was bed-bound for what seemed like forever. I think of my friend who makes lunches for the homeless, without asking for anything from anyone. I think of the times when someone needs a shoulder to cry on, or a hand to hold. I think of the guy who fixes a kitchen sink or mows a neighbor's lawn. I think these must be the terms of endearment that Jesus speaks of when someone just helps because - when the right hand does not know or care what the left hand is doing.
And Jesus said, "when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."
My God. Continue to show me the error of my ways. Help me to stay away from "Ministry Flags" and all the evil baggage that comes with them. Humility is everything Lord. Humility is everything!
It appears the Holy Spirit has given me seven different poetic sermons to illuminate the scripture found in Matthew Chapter 5. The first was called “8 Blessings” and it was based on a sermon that Jesus gave on a Mount that spoke about the blessings of God. The second was called “Salt” and it was about Christians adding flavor to a lukewarm world. The third was called, “Awake O Sleeper” and it was based on the importance of shining God's light into a dark and dreary world. The fourth was called “Its the Law” and it highlights why Jesus came! He said, "Do not misunderstand why I have come. I have not come to abolish the Law of Moses or the writings of the Prophets. I have come to fulfill them." The fifth was called “Anger” and it spoke to how quickly anger can turn to danger and create murder, before we even know it! And the sixth was about the marriage vow, and it spoke to the importance of an oath - to a potential spouse and, more importantly, to God himself.
Now, here I am, at the end of Chapter 5; and Jesus is teaching about the problem with revenge, and why, as His disciples, we MUST show love to our enemies.
“You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say do not resist an evil person. If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also; if you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat too; if a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it 2 miles; give to those who ask and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow.”
Truly, loving our enemies is the opposite of what our flesh really wants to do. It takes every once of self-control to push our pride down and not want to take things into our own hands. We will often come up with excuses like "righteous anger" to justify our positions. But Jesus. He says, “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
Do you not see why Jesus had to come?
Can you imagine forgiving a Nazi, who has killed thousands and thousands of men, women and children?
Can you imagine forgiving a rapist who has stolen the very essence of a person's being?
Can you imagine loving a person who sells little children?
Or extending grace to someone who has beaten his wife, or another person?
Can you imagine forgiving an Islamist who hates your God?
Can you imagine any of these people being considered a friend?
What exactly is Jesus trying to say?
Is he honestly telling us to love and to forgive?
Do we really have to pray for those who persecute us?
God, is this how we prove that we are your children?
Help us to learn how to love and forgive.