Matthew 6:1-8, 16-18
Derek Berry, pastor
Tabernacle Baptist Church, Hiram
Here we find ourselves in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus is giving us some very practical advice that will help us in our everyday life if we put it to practice.
As we focus in on the first part of chapter six we see that Jesus is teaching about giving, praying, and fasting. Some people look at giving as “let me give enough to ease my conscience” or as monthly bill. Some people look at praying as something you do only when you need something, or something you do after you can’t fix it on your own. Some people look at fasting as something people in the Bible did that we read about.
Would you believe if I told that giving, praying, and fasting is a form of worship? What? Are you kidding me? Giving is worshiping? Praying is worshiping? Fasting is worshiping?
Yes, it is! Jesus is teaching us here that the principle to true righteousness should be applied to our relationship to God in worship in our everyday life. He also cautions us in verses 2, 5, and 16 about “hypocrites.” The Greek word translated hypocrite originally meant “an actor who wears a mask.” A hypocrite knowingly uses religion to cover up their sins and also to promote their own advancement.
The Pharisees were not honest people and they practiced their religion for the wrong reason. They did it for the praise of men rather that the reward of God.
True righteousness comes from the inside!
We must analyze ourselves in each of these three areas to see if we are like Jesus or like the Pharisees. Are we giving, praying, and fasting for the applause of people? Or are we doing it out of a form of worshiping Jesus?
What is your motive in your giving?
Is it wrong to give out in the open? No. Does all giving have to done anonymously? No. It all comes down to the motive on the inside of you!
The Pharisees used giving as a way to get all the people’s eyes on them. They were also trying to build up favor with God. These were the wrong motives.
What is your motive in praying? Is it wrong to pray out loud? No.
We must pray in private before we pray in public (verse 6). It is not wrong to pray in public if we are devoted to praying in private. The “hypocrites” only wanted to pray in public so that others would see and hear their “wonderful prayers” and applaud them. The “hypocrites” wanted people to be mesmerized by their praying abilities.
We must pray genuinely (verses 7-8).
Just because a prayer is repeated does not make it a “vain repetitions.” A prayer becomes a “vain repetition” when the words are not genuinely from the heart. Our prayers should be prayed to get the ear of God, not to get the ear of people.
God does not answer prayers that are not genuinely from the heart.
What is your motive in fasting? Is it wrong to fast? No, if we do it with the right motives.
Luke 18:12 tells us that the Pharisees fasted twice a week. They did it in a way that everyone knew and that was the whole point for them. They wanted the applause of people.
Fasting helps to disciple ourselves and set our spiritual priorities in order.
Fasting is not just going without food. We must dedicate ourselves to God and worship Him. If there is not any dedication from the heart, there will never be any everlasting spiritual benefit.
Giving, Praying, and Fasting are forms of worship. If you truly want your worship transformed, then it all starts from a clean, genuine heart. Through Jesus’ teachings, He has laid out the principles as to how we should live and how our true righteousness should be applied in worship in our everyday lives.
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