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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible
Matthew 6

 

 


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Verses 1-4

Matthew 6:1. Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.

“You cannot expect to be paid twice, if therefore you take your reward in the applause of men, who give you a high character for generosity, you cannot expect to have any reward from God.” We ought to have a single eye to God’s accepting what we give, and to have little or no thought of what man may say concerning our charitable gifts.

Matthew 6:2. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

And they will have no more; there is, in their case, no laying up of any store of good works before God. Whatever they may have done, they have taken full credit for it in the praise of men.

Matthew 6:3. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:

“Do it so by stealth as scarcely to know it thyself; think so little of it with regard to thyself that thou shalt scarcely know that thou hast done it. Do it unto God; let him know it.”

Matthew 6:4. That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.

There is a blessed emphasis upon that word “himself” for, if God shall reward us, what a reward it will be! Any praise from his lips, any reward from his hands, will be of priceless value. Oh, to live with an eye to that alone!

This exposition consisted of readings from Matthew 5:43-48; and Matthew 6:1-4.


Verses 1-8

Matthew 6:1. Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.

Our blessed Lord does not tell his disciples to give alms, but he takes it for granted that they do that. How could they be his disciples if they did not so? But he tells them to take care that they do not do this in order to get honour and credit from it. Oh! how much is done in this world that would be very good, but it is spoilt in the doing through the motive done to be seen of men. “Ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.”

Matthew 6:2. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you. They have their reward.

So that they will never have another. They have been paid once for it by the approbation of their fellow-men. They will never have any further reward.

Matthew 6:3-5. But when thou doest alms let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. And when thou prayest,

He does not tell his disciples to pray, but again takes it for granted that they do so, and he cannot be a Christian who does not pray. “A prayerless soul is a Christless soul.” “When thou prayest.”

Matthew 6:5. Thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

All they will ever get. People say, “What a wonderfully pious man he is to pray up at the street corner.” Ay, but that is the reward. The prayer will die where it was offered.

Matthew 6:6. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet,

Get into some quiet nook — some secret place, no matter where.

Matthew 6:6. And when thou hast shut thy door,

So that nobody can hear you — not wishing anybody to know even that you are at prayer. “When thou hast shut thy door.”

Matthew 6:6-8. Pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

Prayers are never measured by the yard in heaven. They are estimated by their weight. If there is earnestness in them, truth, sincerity, God accepts them, however brief they are. Indeed, brevity is often an excellence in prayer. Let us never, therefore, use vain repetitions.

This exposition consisted of readings from Matthew 5:41-48; Matthew 6:1-8


Verses 1-24

Matthew 6:1. Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.

The motive which leads a man to give, will form the true estimate of what he does. If he gives to be seen of men then when he is seen of men he has the reward he sought for, and he will never have any other. Let us never do our alms before men, to be seen of them.

Matthew 6:2-5. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. And when thou prayest, thou shall not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

I have heard very great commendation give to certain Easterns, because at the hour of the rising of the sun, or the hour when the sound is heard from the summit of the mosque, wherever they may be, they put themselves in the posture of prayer. God forbid I should rob them of any credit they deserve, but far be it from us ever to imitate them. We are not to be ashamed of our prayers, but they are not things for the public street. They are intended for God’s eye, and God’s ear.

Matthew 6:6-7, But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet and when thou hast. shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think they shall be heard for their much speaking.

It is not very easy to repeat the same words often without it becoming a vain repetition. A repetition, however, is not forbidden, but a “vain” repetition. And how greatly do they err who measure prayers by the yard. They think they have prayed so much because they have prayed so long, whereas it is the work of the heart — the true pouring out of the desire before God — that is the thing to be looked at. Quality not quantity: truth, not length. Oftentimes the shortest prayers have the most prayer in them.

Matthew 6:8-9. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what thing. ye have need of, before ye ask him. After this manner therefore pray ye:

And then he gives us a model of prayer, which never can be excelled, containing all the parts of devotion. They do well who model their prayers upon this.

Matthew 6:9-13 Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Our Saviour now makes a remark upon this prayer, and on one particular part of it which has stumbled a great many.

Matthew 6:14-15. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

There are some who have altered this, and pray in this fashion, “Forgive us our debts as we desire to forgive our debtors.” It will not do. You will have to desire God to forgive you, and desire in vain, if you pray in that fashion. It must come to this point of literal immediate, completed forgiveness of every offence committed against you if you expect God to forgive you. There is no wriggling out of it. The man who refuses to forgive, refuses to be forgiven. God grant that we may, none of us, tolerate malice in our hearts. Anger glances in the bosom of wise men: it only burns in the heart of the foolish. May we quench it, and feel that we do freely, and fully, and heartily forgive, knowing that we are forgiven.

Matthew 6:16. Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

Simpletons praise them — think much of them, and they plume themselves thereon, and think themselves the very best of men. They have their reward.

Matthew 6:17-18. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face: That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.

Yet have I heard persons speak of certain emaciated ecclesiastics as being such wonderfully holy men. “How they must have fasted! They look like it. You can see it in their faces.” Probably produced by a fault in their digestion much more likely, than by anything else and if not — if we are to suppose that the spareness of a person is to be the token of his holiness — then the living skeleton was a saint to perfection. But we are not beguiled by such follies as these. The Christian man fasts but he takes care that no one shall know it. He wears no ring or token even when his heart is heavy. Full often he puts on a cheerful air, lest by any means he should communicate unnecessary sorrow to others, and he will be cheerful and happy, apparently, in the midst of company, to prevent their being sad, for it is enough for him to be sad himself, and sad before his Father’s face.

Matthew 6:19-21. Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

There is many a way of sending your treasure before you to heaven. God’s poor are his money boxes — his exchequer. You can pass your treasure over to heaven by their means. And the work of evangelizing the world by the labours of God’s servants in the ministry of the gospel — you can help this also. Thus also ye can pass your treasure over into the King’s exchequer, and your heart will follow it. I have heard of one who said his religion did not cost him a shilling a year, and it was remarked that very probably it would have been expensive at the price. You will find people form a pretty accurate estimate of the value of their own religion by the proportion which they are prepared to sacrifice for it.

Matthew 6:22. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single,

If thy motive be single — if thou hast only one motive, and that a right one — the master one of glorifying God — if thy eye be single.

Matthew 6:22-23. Thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

When a man’s highest motive is himself, what a dark and selfish nature he has; but when his highest motive is his God, what brightness of light will shine upon all.

Matthew 6:24. No man can serve two masters:

He can serve two persons very readily. For the matter of that, he can serve twenty, but not two masters. There cannot be two master principles in a man’s heart, or master passions in a man’s soul. “No man can serve two masters.”

Matthew 6:24. For either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Though some men’s lives are a long experiment of how far they can serve the two.

This exposition consisted of readings from Matthew 6:1-24. 1 Corinthians 3:1-16.


Verses 5-34

Matthew 6:5. And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men.

We ought to pray in the synagogue, and we may pray at the corners of the streets; but the wrong is to do it to “be seen of men,” that is, to be looking for some present reward in the praises that fall from human lips.

Matthew 6:5-7. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

They seem to attribute a sort of power to a certain form of words, as if it were a charm, and they repeat it over and over again. Not only do the poor Mohammedans and heathens “use vain repetitions,” but the members of the Romish and other churches that I might name do the same thing; words to which they attach but very slight meaning, and into which they put little or no heart, are repeated by them again and again, as if there could be some virtue in the words themselves. Let it not be so with you beloved. Pray as long as you like in secret, but do not pray long with the idea that God will hear you simply because you are a long while at your devotions.

Matthew 6:8. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before you ask him.

He does not need to be informed, nor even to be persuaded. Mere words are of no value in his ears. If you must needs use many words, ask them to lend you their ears, for they may have little else to do with them; but God careth not for words alone, it is the thought, the desire of the heart to which he ever hath regard.

Matthew 6:9. After this manner therefore pray ye:

Here is a model prayer for you to copy as far as it is suited to your case: —

Matthew 6:9-13. After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

And then, as it there was one part of the prayer that would be sure to arrest the attention of his hearers, namely, that concerning forgiving our debtors, the Saviour makes the following remarks: —

Matthew 6:14-15. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Therefore, in order to succeed in prayer, we must have a heart purged from a spirit of revenge and from all unkindness; we must ourselves be loving and forgiving, or we cannot expect that God will hear our supplications when we come to crave his forgiveness.

Matthew 6:16. Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast.

They seemed to say to everyone who looked at them, “We have been so engrossed with our devotions that we have not found time even to wash our faces.” But the Saviour says to his followers, “Do not imitate those hypocrites; do not make public our private religious exercises, perform them unto God, and not unto men. As for those hypocrites,” —

Matthew 6:16. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

And a poor reward it is.

Matthew 6:17-18. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.

May God give us that modest, unselfish spirit which lives unto him, and does not want to walk in the sham light of men’s esteem! What matters it, after all, what men think of us? The hypocrite proudly boasts if he wins a little praise from his fellows but what is it except so much wind? If all men should speak well of us, all that we should gain would be this, “Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets.”

Matthew 6:19-20. Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: Bbut lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

Christ here first teaches us how to pray, and then teaches us how really to live. He turns our thoughts from the object in life which allures and injures so many, but which is, after all, an object unworthy of our search; and he bids us seek something higher and better: “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven,” —

Matthew 6:21. For where your treasure is there will your heart be also.

It is sure to be so: your heart will follow your treasure. Send it away therefore up to the everlasting hills, lay up treasure in that blessed land before you go there yourself.

Matthew 6:22-23. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

If thine eye be brooked up with gold dust, or if thou art living for self and this world, thy whole life will be a dark life, and the whole of thy being will dwell in darkness. “But,” says someone, “may I not live for this world and the next too?” listen: —

Matthew 6:24. No man can serve two masters:

He may serve two individuals, who have conflicting interests but they cannot both be his masters.

Matthew 6:24. For either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Either the one or the other will be master, they are so opposed to each other that they will never agree to a divided service. “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” It is the Lord Jesus Christ who says this, so do not attempt to do what he declares is impossible.

Matthew 6:25. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, —

It should be, “Take no distracting thought for your life,” —

Matthew 6:25. What ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

You are obliged to leave your life with God, why not leave with him all care about your food and your raiment?

Matthew 6:26. Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, or gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

Do you believe that, after all your earnest labour and your industry, God will permit you to starve, when these creatures, that labour not, yet are fed?

Matthew 6:27-29. Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was never arrayed like one of these.

Christ asks then whether, by taking thought, they can add a single cubit to their lives, for I take his question to mean, whether they could, by any means, make the standard of existence any longer than it was. They could not do so, they could shorten it, and very often, carking care has brought men to their graves. Then Christ bade them note how the lilies grow, so that even Solomon could not excel them for beauty.

Matthew 6:30-33. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore, take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

If you want string and brown paper, you need not go into a shop to buy them, but if you buy certain articles, you get string and brown paper in the bargain. So, when you go to God, seeking first his kingdom and his righteousness, these other things, which are but the packing, as it were, the string and the brown paper, are given to you in the bargain. He who giveth you the golden treasures of heaven will not allow you to want for the copper treasures of earth.

Matthew 6:34. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

You cannot live in tomorrow, so do not fret about tomorrow. You live in today, so think of today, spend today to God’s glory, and leave the care about tomorrow until tomorrow comes.

 


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Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Matthew 6:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/matthew-6.html. 2011.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, October 31st, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
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