Read: Matthew 6:1-18
Consider: Three times in today’s reading from Matthew 6 we read: ‘… your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you’. The three sections of the chapter where this is mentioned concern:
- Giving to the poor (6:1-4);
- Praying (6:5-15);
- Fasting (6:16-18).
Looking at these examples it would be wrong of us to come to the conclusion that the rewards referred to must mean material wealth, positive answers to all our prayers and food. Of course, it could be, but it is up to God to decide how to reward us for our charitable giving, faithfulness in prayer and abstinence.
You may have noticed that these sections each assume that you will:
- Give (‘… when you give to the needy …’);
- Pray (‘… when you pray …’);
- Fast (‘… when you fast …).
This should be the outworking of our faith day-by-day. In other words, our faith should clearly be seen in our actions; but seen by whom? Jesus’ instructions were a warning against making a public show of our faith. Our giving should be done discreetly, our praying should be done quietly and respectfully and our fasting should be done in a way that does not draw attention to ourselves. Jesus tells us who sees us; it is God who sees what we do in private.
It is always important to remember Jesus’ warning against doing these things to be noticed by others and to gain their praise. He says: ‘… they have received their reward in full’ (6:2, 5, 16).
It is interesting that after speaking about rewards, in the very next section of Matthew 6 Jesus says: Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth … But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven …For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (6:19-21).
Our giving, praying and fasting should not be done to acquire earthly gain, but as an expression of the love we have for God in our hearts.
Pray: Father, keep us from seeking the recognition and praise of others. May how we live out our faith day-by-day take the focus off us and place it on you. We thank you that the greatest treasure we can gain is to be found in Jesus Christ as our Saviour and Lord. Amen