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(6.) Sincerity in alms, prayer, and fasting.
Thus far our Lord has distinguished Christianity from the glosses upon the law, of the old doctors, handed down to the rabbies of the day. Passing from doctrines to practices, he now proceeds to condemn the hollow-hearted religious formalism of the degenerate Judaism of the day, maintained for the eye of men rather than of God. Fallen Judaism gave alms, said prayers, and observed fasts, all for human eyes and ears.
a. Sincerity in alms.
1. Take heed Mark well this point of danger. Do alms The Greek word for alms, according to the best manuscripts, is a different word from alms in Matthew 6:2. The word literally signifies righteousness. According to the Jewish usage, the word included the three righteous external acts alms, prayer, and fasting; alms to thy neighbour, prayer to God, fasting to thyself. The precept in this verse, including all these three, requires that they should be done with an eye to God alone, and not to man. To be seen of men But are we not commanded to let our light shine? We are so; but the object and end, even then, are not to be seen of men; but the being seen of men is a mere means of inducing others to do likewise, and securing glory for God. The one terminates motive in man and his applause; the other terminates in God and his cause. And this answers the common cavils against the operations of public societies who publish their benefactions. No reward of your Father You serve the eyes of men, and from men must be all your reward. Act for God’s eye, and God will reward you. Human approbation is a good; a desire for it has its proper place. But it is not its right to fill the place of God’s approbation.
2. When thou doest thine alms With a delicate reference to the secresy and individuality enjoined, our Lord changes the plural pronoun ye of the last verse to the more pointed thou. Do thou thus, personally and alone.
Be it here marked that our Lord presupposes that alms would be given. Even fallen Judaism was liberal to God and the poor. The extravagance of the present day, lavish of showy expense, has but a small surplus to spare for charities and liberalities. The Jew gave one tenth of his income; the Christian generally cannot give the hundredth part, since he needs it to supply rich furniture, personal pleasures, and investments for future profit!
Sound a trumpet Symbol for making a great display to attract attention. There is no proof of the existence among the Jews of the practice of blowing a trumpet in almsgiving. Their reward The applause of men which they seek, and the disapprobation of God whom they mock.
3. Left hand If it had perception. A striking symbol of secrecy. “The right hand,” says Mr. Roberts in his Oriental Illustrations, “always dispenses gifts because ‘it is more honourable than the other;’ the left hand, therefore, was to be unacquainted with the charities of the other; that is, there was to be no ostentation; to be perfect secrecy. The Hindoos say of things which are not to be revealed: ‘The left ear is not to hear that which went into the right, nor the right to be acquainted with that which was heard by the left.’“
4. In secret Literally in the secret place. God seeth that secret place, and shall reward thee in the open place. Thy good deeds were covered; thy reward shall be before assembled worlds. Shall reward thee The great principle of reward for good works done with the pure eye to God alone, seems almost forgotten. The fear of claiming merit for our good works and deeds of righteousness for God, has become extreme. Yet evangelically, and by the great condescension of God, a merit, at least a rewardableness, is attributed to deeds of goodness, performed from a right heart, for God. The dollar, nay, the cent, given for Christ from a love for Christ, is an investment which he will repay with an eternal interest.
b. Sincerity in prayer.
5. Prayest From sincerity in alms our Lord proceeds to sincerity in prayer. Hypocrites The Greek word is, literally, play actors. These anciently not only acted a part, but wore a mask. Hence they became a symbol of persons who assumed a false character, especially in religion. Standing A usual posture of the Jews in prayer. The early Christians followed a more uniform practice of kneeling. See Acts 9:40; Acts 20:36. The posture is not essential, but so far as the act is significant, kneeling is assuredly the more reverential. Dr. Thomson says of the Moslem prayers: “I would be glad to believe there was ordinarily any corresponding moral and religious feeling connected with this exterior manifestation of devotion. The Moslems themselves, however, have no such idea. They are rather afraid of any one who is especially given to prayer their prayers, I mean. They have a proverb: ‘If your neighbour has made the pilgrimage to Mecca once, watch him; if twice, avoid his society; if three times, move into another street.’“
Corners of the streets Where streets intersected and so brought large crowds. The Jerusalem Talmud is quoted as saying: “Rabbi Janai stood and prayed in the corner of the street Trippor, repeating an additional prayer at each of the four corners.”
6. Closet The word primarily signifies a locker, or fastened store-room. Hence any private close apartment or chamber. Symbol for any secret retreat. But not only may we be in our closet; our closet may be in us. The innermost prayer of the heart, though in a dense crowd, may be truly the closet prayer. Shut thy door As our Lord is here prescribing a mode of action in opposition to the conduct of the ostentatious hypocrite of his day, he lays a special emphasis upon the particular points of difference. For this reason it is that he specifies the closet and the shutting of the door. These are the symbols of unostentatious devotion. They are not, therefore, to be interpreted materially and mechanically. The pure thought is Perform thy religious duties for God’s eye and not for man’s.
7. Vain repetitions The second caution in regard to prayer. Vain repetition, in the Greek, battologia. The word is derived by an ancient lexicographer from Battus, a poet, who composed hymns full of repetitions. More probably, however, the word is made from the sound, like such words as tattle and clatter. The repetitions of a fervent heart are not condemned; but the parrot-like recitation of heartless phrases, as if the mere saying of them over would be a merit. So the Papists prescribe Pater Nosters to be repeated, and beads to be counted. Of the repetitions of modern Orientals, Dr. Thomson says: “They are obliged to repeat some expressions thirty times; others many hundred times. Would that these remarks did not apply to nominal Christians in this land as well as to Moslems!” Much speaking Instead of sincere speaking. Our Saviour is not condemning perseverance in prayer. On the contrary, he often prayed himself all night. As the heathen do Our Lord will deal with heathenism in a later part of the discourse. But, alas! there is much of heathenism in Judaism.
9. After this manner Our Lord now proceeds to give an outline model of prayer, in which is not one word of irrational babble or cant repetition; but in which human wants are condensed and expressed, and human devotions shaped in terms so direct, so simple, so pure, that sinner or saint, philosopher or child, may understand and use them.
There is no ground for saying that this formula, called our Lord’s Prayer, was selected by him from Jewish forms. No doubt it embodies petitions used in essence by the Old Testament saints of all ages. But it was cast fully and truly in the mould of his own divine mind. It has a heaven-born originality.
In Luke 11:2, Jesus says: “When ye pray, say, Our Father,” etc. Hence there can be no doubt that this was intended as a fixed form of prayer. As such it formed a model for our prayer in general. It is a recorded summary for the Church in all ages of the permanent objects of prayer. It is the condensation and nucleus of all Christian supplication. It has ever served to limit the range of Christian devotion. It is proper, therefore, to be usually repeated in our public service, though not to the exclusion of all other prayer. And it is delightful to feel that it has served to establish a harmony of prayer among true saints through all the world.
Hence, with propriety our Church does use a ritual of forms of prayers, inasmuch as the essential identity of prayers should be traditionally preserved from generation to generation; but not to the suppression of extemporaneous prayers, lest the free action of the soul in prayer should be hampered and gradually suppressed.
The structure of our Lord’s Prayer may be best presented by the following form:
Our Father which art in heaven,
a. Hallowed be thy name.
b. Thy kingdom come.
c. Thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven.
a. Give us this day our daily bread.
b. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
c. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory.
On which we may remark,
1. It begins with an address, and ends with an ascription.
2 . Between these are included two sets of threes. The first set is three celestial, and the second three terrestrial petitions. The three celestial petitions pray for the sanctification of God’s name, the coming of his kingdom, and a universal submission to it.
The terrestrial petitions pray for livelihood, pardon of past sin, and deliverance from committing future sin.
3 . The ascription attributes to God three excellencies in kingdom, power, and glory. But we are bound to add that the genuineness of this ascription, as a part of the sacred text, is, in the judgment of critics, more than doubtful.
4 . It may also be said that the address implies three subjects: God, his abode, and us, his children.
The first three petitions embrace, or imply, all we need pray for apart from ourselves; the last three all that we need pray for ourselves individually and collectively.
The following comparison will show that all its doctrines are contained in the Old Testament.
Our Father which art in heaven: Isaiah 64:8: “O Lord, thou art our Father.” Ecclesiastes 5:2: “God is in heaven.”
Hallowed be thy name: Psalms 48:10: “According to thy name, O God, so is thy praise unto the ends of the earth.”
Thy kingdom come: Psalms 22:28: “For the kingdom is the Lord’s, and he is the governor among the nations.” Daniel 2:44: “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed.”
Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven: Psalms 40:8: “I delight to do thy will, O my God.” Psalms 103:20: “Bless the Lord, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word.”
Give us this day our daily bread: Proverbs 30:8: “Feed me with food convenient for me.”
And forgive us our debts: Exodus 34:9: “Pardon our iniquity and our sin.”
As we forgive our debtors: Leviticus 19:18: “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord.”
And lead us not into temptation: Genesis 22:1: “And it came to pass. after these things, that God did tempt Abraham.”
But deliver us from evil: Psalms 50:15. “And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.”
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen: 1 Chronicles 29:11: “Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all.”
Our Father Against Atheism, which teaches that there is no God; against Pantheism, that teaches that God is not a person, but identical with nature; against Epicurism, which teaches that God cares nothing for his creation; against Polytheism, which teaches that there are many gods, our Saviour teaches that our one God is a tender and gracious parent, who knows our wants and listens to our prayers.
Which art in heaven And so infinitely superior to any father we have on earth. God, though omnipresent, is said to be in heaven. Whether there be a locality in the universe where God is specially and peculiarly resident, is more than we can say. Astronomers do conceive there to be a centre of the system of astronomic worlds: and that centre may be the capitol of the universe, “the third heaven, where God resides.” But at any rate, all human language, and human conception, contemplate God as above and man below. That is, we look from the earth for the Divine; to the earth for the human. Hallowed Held sacred. Thy very name, and so thy self be most profoundly revered.
10. Thy kingdom Thy dominion over all hearts and souls. Come By our willing submission to it, and by its universal spread. In this petition, truly offered, we do truly submit to God; we do truly give him our hearts, and are consequently truly Christians. Thy will be done Thy laws be obeyed; thy commandments be executed. A class of commentators make a distinction, for which there is little ground, between the revealed will and the secret will of God. Thus Professor Owen, in his Commentary, says: “His secret will or purpose is being accomplished at all times and in all places of his dominion.” If this be true, then all the vices, crimes, and abominations of fiends and the most wicked wretches, though forbidden by the law of God, are in accordance with “his secret will!” What is this, but to make a hypocrite of the most holy God? What is it, but to make him will the wickedness of the sinner, that he may damn him? What is it, but to make God the original determiner of all sin; and therefore the responsible author of all sin; and therefore, again, the only real sinner in the universe?
In earth as it is in heaven And thereby men would be as obedient as angels, and the earth would be a counterpart of heaven.
The phrase, in earth, clearly indicates the expectation that obedience to God’s will, bringing on the coming of his kingdom, should overspread the earth. This universal hope is placed in the very body of this universal prayer. It is instinct with the very life of missionary enterprise. That kingdom is to be introduced, not by the convulsion of the world’s dissolution, but by the submission of all hearts to its extending sway. The Church, therefore, cannot pray this clause of the divine prayer in the full spirit of its power, without becoming a missionary Church. In this petition is the concentrated germ of all holy enterprise, of all aggressive energy, of all Christian sacrifice; for the conversion of men, for the blessing of the race, and for the recalling of an apostate world to God.
11. Daily bread Including all the needs of life.
12. Debts As by our offences we owe satisfaction, so they are all debts.
In business we incur debts of money; in morals we incur debts of reparation. In the former debts we pay coin; in the latter we pay in suffered penalty or atonement. So due penalty is often treated in Scripture as a debt. Forgive us our debts Remit the penalty of our offences, and hold us as if we had not sinned.
13. Lead us not into temptation Bring us not into trials that may endanger our souls. This prayer is, however, to be uttered with submission to whatever trials of our virtue God pleases. And hence our Lord immediately adds, deliver us from evil as much as to say, If thou dost lead us into dangers to our virtue, give us strength to overcome.
The evil here named does not mean simply the Evil One; but all evil, including all sin and hell as well as the devil.
All this prayer and submission we offer to thee, O God, for thine is every supreme excellence; namely, the wide kingdom of the world, the absolute power over it, and the glory of all thine own attributes, of all thy vast monarchy, and of all its grand events and results. Amen So let it be. It has the entire consent of our own hearts.
15. Forgive not… neither See on Matthew 18:35. Our Saviour adds this to impress the sincerity of the petition upon our hearts.
c. Sincerity in fasting.
16. Moreover Be not only thus sincere in alms and prayer, but also in fasting. Put on no grim airs to attract attention, but fast unto God.
Of a sad countenance Solemn thought naturally indeed produces a solemn expression of countenance. Penitence may produce tears. And all this is right, provided the external expression is produced by the internal feeling before God. Nay, one may put on sackcloth and ashes, or use other means to bring his feelings to the right state. But to assume expressions, or put on forms, for the purpose of a show where the reality is not within, is simply hypocrisy. Forms, indeed, are often in a degree deserted by the feeling they express; and yet they are well retained to keep us in that way by which the feeling may be made to return, so that the form may become reanimated by the power. But when the form has banished the power, and become a substitute for it and a mere show of it, the hypocrisy has fairly commenced.
17. Anoint thine head, and wash thy face As these were the customary daily dressings of the Jews, our Lord, in the words, directs them to use their ordinary modes when fasting. Of course here is no reducing the practice of anointing the head to a universal Christian command.
The practice of anointing with oil as an inauguration of kings and priests, has already been mentioned. Matthew 1:0. But there were also anointings of guests, of the sick, and of the dead. The practice is extremely ancient; as there appear, even upon the monuments of ancient Egypt, figures in the act of pouring oil upon the head of a person sitting or standing before them. This use of oil in the dry climate of the East is supposed to impart softness and brilliancy to the skin, to prevent the weakening effects of too much perspiration, and to impart to the person health and beauty. Hence, it becomes the emblem of joy and gladness, of excellence and blessing, of divine favour and distinction, of royalty and priesthood. Hence, in periods of symbolical sorrow, of mourning, penitence, and fasting, the Jews abjured the use of oil.
1 . Our treasure not on earth, but in heaven.
19. Treasures The first thought of a superficial reader of these words is likely to be, that our Saviour actually forbids all acquirement of wealth or property, real or personal. And objectors to the Scriptures endeavour to maintain this as the true construction, and so to prove that Jesus teaches a monkish kind of piety. But, first, it to be marked that the very basis on which our Lord gives this precept presupposes that earthly goods are good in their place. His doctrine is that, if we seek first the higher good, all these things, constituting the lower good, shall be subordinately added unto us. Matthew 6:33. And, second, the word treasures does not mean simply riches. The term is not to be literally limited to material wealth alone, but is a symbol for whatever we hold to be our main good, whatever has our predominant affection, whatever is our aim of life. The sentiment, then, is, Make heavenly, not earthly good supreme in your heart. So also moth, rust, and thieves are symbols of whatever can destroy our treasures. If our treasures are wealth, riches take wings and fly away; if beauty, disease may impair it; if learning, idiocy; if strength, paralysis; if talent, insanity, and of all our treasures, m whatever form, the grand thief is death.
For yourselves Making gratification of self your end.
Moth The moth is a worm which breeds in neglected clothes, eats their substance, and destroys their texture. So Isaiah 50:9; Isaiah 51:8; Ecclesiastes 19:3.
Rust Corrosion, or wear and tear of any kind. Corrupt Destroy.
III. CHRISTIAN PIETY DISTINGUISHED FROM GENTILISM, Matthew 6:19 to Matthew 7:27.
Fallen Judaism is the impure service of the true God; Gentilism is the true service of a false god. That god is the world-god Mammon. Gentilism has lost its divine parent; it has become orphaned of our Father who is in heaven. In his place it has substituted the Mammon service and the earthly goods. After all these things do the Gentiles seek. Matthew 6:32.
It is perfectly plain that with Matthew 6:18 our Lord closes his treatment of fallen Judaism. Thereafter he takes a wider scope over the world, and treats, throughout the remainder of the chapter, upon the world-wide substitution of the earthly good for the heavenly good, (Matthew 6:19-23,) of the rivalry of Mammon before the heavenly Father, (Matthew 6:24,) and the dominion of Care in the place of the kingdom or dominion of God over us. (Matthew 6:25-30.) He calls us back beneath the paternity of God, promising that if we will make him our sole Supreme, all earthly goods shall be subordinately added.
20. Treasures in heaven The use of the word treasures here shows that its sense is symbolical for that which is our highest interest.
For yourselves This treasure may, indeed, be for yourselves. Earthly good is transient; you are a mere momentary holder, and not an owner. But heavenly treasures become your own forever.
21. Where your treasure is, there… heart If your treasure is earthly, your heart is earthly.
Now, our Lord condemns no true earthly good, no true earthly enjoyment; he simply claims that in these shall not consist our treasures; and that all their value shall consist in their enabling us to be better servants of God and winners of the true treasures. For this purpose a single eye is necessary, as shown in the next two verses.
22. Light of the body is the eye The body is as a large room, naturally dark, of which the inhabitant is the soul. But it has a light or lamp, the eye; for the eye gathers light from the external world of knowledge, and pours it, like a lamp, into the spacious residence of the soul. Eye be single Or pure from any foreign substance, duplicating and impeding its clear blaze. Body… light If the lamp give a pure light, the room is completely filled with illumination. When the moral perception is uninterfered with by any alloy of base self-interest, the soul possesses the pure light of truth.
23. If thine eye be evil If the eye is evil by corrupting disease or foreign substance. Darkness Of course a blind eye makes a dark body and soul. And morally, where the spiritual eye is disturbed and blinded by unholy motives and worldly self-interest, the soul is filled with darkness.
But the Jews were often inclined to struggle against this heathen world-worship; and so a rivalry and a compromise arose in their hearts between the world-god and the true God. Our Lord now meets this case.
2 . The world must not stand in competition with God, Matthew 6:24-34.
24. Two masters If the masters indeed agree perfectly, it is essentially one master. But here two signifies opposing. They are two, (as two masters ever will be,) not only in number, but in interest; and the poor slave or worshipper is under a conflicting jurisdiction, where one authority commands and another prohibits.
Mammon There is no proof that Mammon was the name of a Syrian false god, or really an idol deity at all. Augustine says it is a Punic word signifying gain. The word was used in later and corrupt Hebrew for wealth. It is here personified by our Lord as the rival to the true God an antigod of this world, He is the supreme Dollar of the day.
Hate… love In the heart. Hold to… despise In the external conduct. Either in heart, or in action, or both, one of the masters will be sole master. Serve As a slave or a worshipper. You cannot serve both; but you may make God your Lord, and Mammon your servant.
But if God alone must be worshipped, and Mammon despised, what will become of our support for life?
Our Lord now meets the question. Be not anxious about the matter; the duty is your part, the care is God’s. He who has adjusted his providential care to the bird, (which, indeed, hunts his food, yet lives by faith,) and to the lily, (that, indeed, struggles to gather moisture, and yet depends on God to paint her texture,) will also adjust his care for you, his chosen servants. Perform, indeed, every duty in the world; then leave all the care to God, and rise to the true dignity of the true man of faith, who brings the world beneath his feet and sets God above all. This is the true place of human excellence and of divine repose.
25. Therefore Since it is God’s part, like a true master, to care for us. Take no thought This rendering of the Greek, ( μεριμνα , merimna, distraction, distrust,) is in itself too strong. The Greek word is derived from the verb μεριζω , merizo, to divide, and implies the distraction of mind between different feelings; or rather, between the true God and the world-god of Gentilism. Let there be no half-and-half distraction of your mind between the two masters, by which anxiety for worldly good shall prevent your complete trust in God. Your anxiety is just so much belief that wealth is safer than God, and Mammon a better master than Christ.
What ye shall eat The questions here condemned should be carefully understood. They are not the questions asked by a housewife who has a dinner to provide to-day; nor the questions of an industrious householder who has a family to feed. These provident queries are a rightful duty, and to furnish the solid answer is its proper performance. The prohibited questions ask not properly how shall I be supplied, but shall I be supplied at all. The questions thus prohibited are questions of infidel distrust asked by a Mammon worshipper, who is called upon to become a man of faith, but is afraid he will thereby lose his earthly living. For all these distrusts our Lord is about to furnish the true, magnanimous, consoling answer. Venture the holy investment; trust in God, and do duty. Life… meat… body… raiment Will not he who gave the better, furnish also the inferior? If God gave life and body, will he not give food and raiment?
26. Fowls of the air They do their part, and God takes care of the rest. Hence we have not an unintelligent fate, or a blind chance to deal with; but a heavenly Father, who knows his children, and how to provide for them. The birds of heaven shall teach you to live by faith.
27. Add one cubit to his stature To provide food and to eat food is man’s duty; to regulate the digestive process, the growth, the size, comes within the prerogative of God. We can do our part, and God takes care of the rest.
The word cubit (Latin, cubitus) signifies primarily the human arm, from the elbow to the end of the longest finger. This part of the human frame (like the foot) became, very anciently, a measure of external objects. The ancient Egyptian cubit was six handbreadths, or two spans, a span being the measure from the end of the thumb to the end of the little finger of the extended hand. These are somewhat variable measures, but the cubit was about eighteen inches.
Some have rendered the word stature here by the word life, and would improve the meaning by making our Lord ask whether we can add a cubit to life a very odd phrase indeed. Dr. Stier, in his learned work, The Words of Jesus, supposes himself to have settled the question in favour of this meaning by showing that in Matthew 6:26-27 our Lord illustrates the life alone, and in Matthew 6:28-30 the body alone. This is true; but it proves just the reverse of Dr. Stier’s conclusions. The body, as the subject of clothing only, is spoken of in 28-30. In 27 the life is, indeed, the subject, but the life as developing the growth and stature attained. The Greek word for stature does not properly signify life, except as measured by the growth. It is derived from a word signifying how great, and the reference to size and growth is never lost from the word. Cubit is a very uncommon measurement of time, though the ordinary one of stature. The obvious meaning is, man may provide food, but God regulates the growth.
Upon the phraseology of this verse Mr. Roberts remarks:
“This form of speech is sometimes used to humble those of high pretensions. Thus a man of low caste who has become rich, and who assumes authority over his better born though poor neighbours, will be asked: ‘What, has your money made you a cubit higher?’ that is, in the scale of being. Is a man ambitious of rising in society? a person who wishes to annoy him will put his finger to his elbow, and showing him that part to the tip of the middle finger, ask: ‘Friend, will you ever rise thus much [a cubit] after all your cares?’ ‘Yes, yes; the low caste thinks himself a cubit taller, because he has got the favour of the king.’”
28. Lilies The Amaryllis lutea has been supposed to be the flower here specified. which is described as affording “one of the most brilliant and gorgeous objects in nature.” But Dr. Royle (Kitto’s Cyc.) decides it to be the Lilium Chalcedonicum, a flower marked for its showy splendour. Observe, the birds illustrate the precept in regard to food, the lilies in regard to raiment.
30. Cast into the oven As a fuel, after it has become withered and dry. In the word grass, here, the lilies mentioned in a previous verse are included. These, and all other grown vegetables, such as the withered stalks of herbs and flowers, the tendrils of vines, the small branches of myrtle and rosemary, and other plants, are, in the East, where fire-wood is scarce, the fuel for the ovens or fire. See following illustration.
32. After all these things All worldly goods and earthly treasures, (18-21,) which are included under the dominion of the world-god, Mammon. And so, be not ye, therefore, like unto them. Their god is Mammon, yours is your heavenly Father. The Gentiles seek Hence this whole third part of our Lord’s discourse is properly a rebuke of Gentilism, or godless Secularism, either as existing among the heathen, or infecting the Jews.
33. Seek The word is here emphatic, opposed to the seek of Matthew 6:32. After these things the Gentiles seek, first and supremely; just as you should seek, first and supremely, the kingdom of God. No one can read the history of heathen nations, especially the great nations of antiquity, in the right spirit, without perceiving their sad condition arising from their loss of the proper knowledge of the Fatherhood of God. Losing all thought of his care, they cared supremely for themselves. They had nobody else to take care of them. Sordid, unscrupulous, and cruel selfishness was the result. No substitute for God was found in idolatry; for their idols, being the personification of their own passions, produced truly nothing but a self-worship, and so aggravated the evil. Against this whole system of Gentilism our Lord here raises the standard. Sons of men, you have a Father in heaven; relax this intense self-care; trust yourselves to him; know him as holy, and seek his righteousness; and so accepting his dominion, doubt not that all earthly goods shall be subordinately added unto you.
First the kingdom… added We have here a summary of the whole requirement God supreme and earth subordinate; his kingdom first, and all proper earthly good as an appendix. He who does this will be religious first, industrious and prudent next, and will place faith in his heart, instead of care, finally.
Kingdom of God That is, the dominion or supremacy of God. With your trust in God, obey the laws of God. He is holy; be ye, therefore, holy. And, as I am his messenger, speaking in his name, come ye out under my guidance from the kingdom of Gentilism into the kingdom of God.
All these things All the things of Mammon that you need. Even in all true worldly good, God will be better than Mammon.
Shall be added unto you So that, under all these prohibitions of anxious distrust, the blessed Jesus presupposes that there shall exist in our hearts a rightful, trusting care, and a provident thought for the true and temperate enjoyment of earthly good which shall be added, through our proper performance of duty, by our heavenly Father unto us. The interpretation which we have here given arises from the text, and completely repudiates and refutes the skeptical charge that our Lord teaches either a high impracticable morality, a monastic unworldliness, or a filthy, mendicant, idle life, like that of the friars of popery.
34. Morrow… take thought The morrow is here finely personified. Do you take care for the morrow? Do duty for to-day and the morrow will be God’s messenger, when it comes, to take care of you. Day… evil thereof Do not bring to-morrow’s trials into to-day; for to-day has its own sufficient concern, as to-morrow has its.
No man is so safe as the child of God. No man is bound to be so cheerful. If he rise into the true position of the man of faith, no one can be so fearless, so brave, so generous, so patient, so manly. Buoyancy is with him a duty, and despondency is a sin. Let him toil, for that is duty; but let no care, that is, double-minded distrust, cloud his brow, for that is usurping the prerogative of God. Let him earnestly labour, lavishly do good, serenely suffer, and great are his treasures above.
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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Matthew 6". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany