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41. Giving, praying and fasting (Matthew 6:1-18; Luke 11:1-4)
If the followers of Jesus give help to the needy with the aim of winning people’s praise, their giving is of no value in God’s sight. They will have their reward in the praise they seek, but will miss out on any reward from God. They should keep matters of giving secret from even their closest friends (Matthew 6:1-4).
Prayer also is a private matter. Believers do not need to make a show of prayerful zeal, as if their heavenly Father needs long and impressive prayers to rouse him to action. He is not like the lifeless idols of the heathen, but is a loving Father who understands his children’s needs (Matthew 6:5-8).
In encouraging believers to pray confidently, Jesus provides a model for them to follow. Although they can speak to God with the freedom of children speaking to a father, they should do so reverently, remembering that he is holy. An expression of worship ensures that his glory comes before their needs (Matthew 6:9). Believers should pray for God’s rule in their lives and in the lives of others, whether as individuals or among people in general. Their prayers may concern great things such as the completion of God’s eternal plan, or small things such as the provision of daily needs (Matthew 6:10-11). They should confess their sins, remembering that God will forgive them only if they forgive others. They should also ask for God’s control in the affairs of life, so that difficulties they meet will not cause them to fall into sin (Matthew 6:12-15).
If at any time believers accompany their prayers with fasting, they should not try to impress others by making themselves look sad. Their fasting will be of no value in God’s sight if they use it to win people’s praise. When they fast they should act and dress normally (Matthew 6:16-18).
42. Concern about material things (Matthew 6:19-34; Luke 12:22-34)
People who come into the kingdom of God should not view the material things of earthly life as others view them. They should put God’s interests first and be generous in giving to others. Those who set their hearts on material things are being disloyal to God, and guarantee bitter disappointment for themselves in the end (Matthew 6:19-21).
To illustrate the results of right and wrong attitudes to material things, Jesus referred to a local belief about the results of good and bad eyesight. People believed that eyes were like windows that allowed light to enter the body and keep it in good health. Healthy eyes meant a healthy body (light); diseased eyes meant a diseased body (darkness). A healthy view of material things will result in a healthy spiritual life; but an unhealthy view will mean that the natural spiritual darkness already in the heart will become even darker (Matthew 6:22-23). A person can be a slave of only one master at a time. If people devote their attention to increasing their prosperity and comfort, they can no longer claim to be loyal to God (Matthew 6:24).
Others, however, get into bondage to material things not because they are greedy, but because they worry too much about having enough money to look after themselves. They should realize that if God gives life, he can also give what is necessary to maintain life (Matthew 6:25-27). If he cares for lesser things such as birds, flowers and grass, he can certainly care for his people. Believers should not be anxious concerning their material needs. Those who do not know God might be anxious, but believers should trust in God and put the interests of his kingdom first. They are under his rule and they should trust that as day to day difficulties arise, he will provide the answer (Matthew 6:28-34).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Matthew 6". "Brideway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12