Below are my thoughts from the daily Bible reading of the West Side Church of Christ. Before reading I invite you to pray and asked God to speak to you as you read his word. Also above in the tabs is a link to the Bible reading plan.
What Does this Passage Say?
- Jesus is in the middle of His famous Sermon on the Mount. He is teaching on a Mountainside near the northern sections of the Sea of Galilee, near the town of Capernaum. As most teachers of the day did Jesus is sitting down. What we are privy to is only about fifteen minutes of His sermon. While what we have recorded for us might be the entire sermon, it is safe to assume we are only given a small glimpse.
- Chapter five dealt with matters of the heart especially those pertaining to public moral behavior. Chapter six of Jesus sermon will deal more with the religious duties of the Jews. We must remember that Jesus is early in His ministry. While there is a timeless truth to what Jesus teaches here, He is speaking to a Jewish audience still living under the law. He is nearly three years before His death, burial, and resurrection. He will not usher in the church age until after all that takes place. While Jesus teaching helps direct our lives in a grace supplied system we must remember His original audience.
- Why do you give? Do you give so others may praise you? Or do you give so that Jesus will be glorified and people in need will be helped? That is the question Jesus wants you to ask yourself.
- Prayer is simple but hard. Prayer is our communication tool with God. He speaks to us through nature, through worship, through others, and through His Word. We speak to Him through prayer. We must be careful not to pray in a way that makes us look good, but do so in a way that connects us with God. That is the purpose of prayer to connect us with God.
- Fasting is something that has been greatly lost in the church age. From time to time Christians do it, but it is not practiced like it once was. When Jesus spoke to His audience He spoke in a way were He assumed they were going to be fasting. He gave instructions on fasting. Again He reminds them that it is a spiritual blessing and connection with God, not something they are doing to glorify themselves with others.
- Your heart is very important to your walk with God. If your heart is dark, your eyes will only see darkness. Have you ever meet someone who sees the world through a negative lens? Unfortunately that person has allowed darkness to fill their hearts and guide their life. Whatever controls our hearts is what controls our lives. Jesus suggests that we turn to heaven, a place of beauty and light, a place where we will reside with God. When this is dominating our lives darkness cannot.
- God provides for those who cannot provide for themselves; the lilies of the field and the birds of the air. God loves and cares for us much more than them. Because of this truth we should not let worry fill our minds. If we are willing to work and trust then God will provide for us our every need. That does not mean abundance. That does not mean we will not have moments of struggle. But our needs will be met and with that we can cast worry out the window.
What is this passage teaching?
- Jesus focus on encouraging His audience was again for them to check their heart in the religious duties. For what motives and reasons do you follow God’s Law? For the Jews it was an idea of looking forward, to pleasing God for the purpose of salvation. And, if they looked good to others, then they must be a very righteous and godly person. As Christians living after the cross we are not saved by keeping the Law, we are saved by the work of Jesus on the cross. There is nothing you and I can do to gain salvation; it is all the work of Jesus. Therefore we do not seek righteousness for the purpose of salvation but to honor God in appreciation of salvation. This mindset is what Jesus is trying to convey to His audience. They too are not saved by keeping the Law because no one could keep the Law. As humans we are too imperfect to do so. They too are saved by God’s grace. For them it was an anticipated reality. So Jesus looks at them and advises check your heart. Check your motives for your prayer, your fasting, and your generosity.
How can I apply this passage to my life?
- So what is your motive for the way you worship, pray, fast, give, or do anything for Jesus? Remember, it is for God’s glory, not ours that we live a life of praise and worship. In the future do not look at your worship and righteous living as earning your salvation. Look at is a way to store up treasures in heaven. When we store up treasures in heaven it already assumes we have a place in heaven reserved for us. If we have a life changing relationship with Jesus then we have a place in heaven reserved. What we do here on earth in essence is building our treasures in heaven.
- While it has a future blessing to it, our worship and righteous living has a here and now blessing to it as well. Remember you are worshiping God in the flesh. Not only does it praise Him but it also blesses you. Have you ever worshiped and felt a blessing from it? Have you ever walked away from worship and felt closer to God when complete? The change of heart and approach will help all of this materialize as well. When we move from the idea that I am saving myself to the idea that I am blessing and praising God a new world of worship opens up; a new and wonderful world!