Matthew 6

* Against hypocrisy in almsgiving. (1-4) Against hypocrisy in

prayer. (5-8) How to pray. (9-15) Respecting fasting. (16-18)

Evil of being worldly-minded. (19-24) Trust in God commended.


1-4 Our Lord next warned against hypocrisy and outward show in

religious duties. What we do, must be done from an inward

principle, that we may be approved of God, not that we may be

praised of men. In these verses we are cautioned against

hypocrisy in giving alms. Take heed of it. It is a subtle sin;

and vain-glory creeps into what we do, before we are aware. But

the duty is not the less necessary and excellent for being

abused by hypocrites to serve their pride. The doom Christ

passes, at first may seem a promise, but it is their reward; not

the reward God promises to those who do good, but the reward

hypocrites promise themselves, and a poor reward it is; they did

it to be seen of men, and they are seen of men. When we take

least notice of our good deeds ourselves, God takes most notice

of them. He will reward thee; not as a master who gives his

servant what he earns, and no more, but as a Father who gives

abundantly to his son that serves him.
5-8 It is taken for granted that all who are disciples of

Christ pray. You may as soon find a living man that does not

breathe, as a living Christian that does not pray. If

prayerless, then graceless. The Scribes and Pharisees were

guilty of two great faults in prayer, vain-glory and vain

repetitions. "Verily they have their reward;" if in so great a

matter as is between us and God, when we are at prayer, we can

look to so poor a thing as the praise of men, it is just that it

should be all our reward. Yet there is not a secret, sudden

breathing after God, but he observes it. It is called a reward,

but it is of grace, not of debt; what merit can there be in

begging? If he does not give his people what they ask, it is

because he knows they do not need it, and that it is not for

their good. So far is God from being wrought upon by the length

or words of our prayers, that the most powerful intercessions

are those which are made with groanings that cannot be uttered.

Let us well study what is shown of the frame of mind in which

our prayers should be offered, and learn daily from Christ how

to pray.
9-15 Christ saw it needful to show his disciples what must

commonly be the matter and method of their prayer. Not that we

are tied up to the use of this only, or of this always; yet,

without doubt, it is very good to use it. It has much in a

little; and it is used acceptably no further than it is used

with understanding, and without being needlessly repeated. The

petitions are six; the first three relate more expressly to God

and his honour, the last three to our own concerns, both

temporal and spiritual. This prayer teaches us to seek first the

kingdom of God and his righteousness, and that all other things

shall be added. After the things of God's glory, kingdom, and

will, we pray for the needful supports and comforts of this

present life. Every word here has a lesson in it. We ask for

bread; that teaches us sobriety and temperance: and we ask only

for bread; not for what we do not need. We ask for our bread;

that teaches us honesty and industry: we do not ask for the

bread of others, nor the bread of deceit, #Pr 20:17|; nor the

bread of idleness, #Pr 31:27|, but the bread honestly gotten. We

ask for our daily bread; which teaches us constantly to depend

upon Divine Providence. We beg of God to give it us; not sell it

us, nor lend it us, but give it. The greatest of men must be

beholden to the mercy of God for their daily bread. We pray,

Give it to us. This teaches us a compassion for the poor. Also

that we ought to pray with our families. We pray that God would

give it us this day; which teaches us to renew the desires of

our souls toward God, as the wants of our bodies are renewed. As

the day comes we must pray to our heavenly Father, and reckon we

could as well go a day without food, as without prayer. We are

taught to hate and dread sin while we hope for mercy, to

distrust ourselves, to rely on the providence and grace of God

to keep us from it, to be prepared to resist the tempter, and

not to become tempters of others. Here is a promise, If you

forgive, your heavenly Father will also forgive. We must

forgive, as we hope to be forgiven. Those who desire to find

mercy with God, must show mercy to their brethren. Christ came

into the world as the great Peace-maker, not only to reconcile

us to God, but one to another.
16-18 Religious fasting is a duty required of the disciples of

Christ, but it is not so much a duty itself, as a means to

dispose us for other duties. Fasting is the humbling of the

soul, #Ps 35:13|; that is the inside of the duty; let that,

therefore, be thy principal care, and as to the outside of it,

covet not to let it be seen. God sees in secret, and will reward

19-24 Worldly-mindedness is a common and fatal symptom of

hypocrisy, for by no sin can Satan have a surer and faster hold

of the soul, under the cloak of a profession of religion.

Something the soul will have, which it looks upon as the best

thing; in which it has pleasure and confidence above other

things. Christ counsels to make our best things the joys and

glories of the other world, those things not seen which are

eternal, and to place our happiness in them. There are treasures

in heaven. It is our wisdom to give all diligence to make our

title to eternal life sure through Jesus Christ, and to look on

all things here below, as not worthy to be compared with it, and

to be content with nothing short of it. It is happiness above

and beyond the changes and chances of time, an inheritance

incorruptible. The worldly man is wrong in his first principle;

therefore all his reasonings and actions therefrom must be

wrong. It is equally to be applied to false religion; that which

is deemed light is thick darkness. This is an awful, but a

common case; we should therefore carefully examine our leading

principles by the word of God, with earnest prayer for the

teaching of his Spirit. A man may do some service to two

masters, but he can devote himself to the service of no more

than one. God requires the whole heart, and will not share it

with the world. When two masters oppose each other, no man can

serve both. He who holds to the world and loves it, must despise

God; he who loves God, must give up the friendship of the world.
25-34 There is scarcely any sin against which our Lord Jesus

more warns his disciples, than disquieting, distracting,

distrustful cares about the things of this life. This often

insnares the poor as much as the love of wealth does the rich.

But there is a carefulness about temporal things which is a

duty, though we must not carry these lawful cares too far. Take

no thought for your life. Not about the length of it; but refer

it to God to lengthen or shorten it as he pleases; our times are

in his hand, and they are in a good hand. Not about the comforts

of this life; but leave it to God to make it bitter or sweet as

he pleases. Food and raiment God has promised, therefore we may

expect them. Take no thought for the morrow, for the time to

come. Be not anxious for the future, how you shall live next

year, or when you are old, or what you shall leave behind you.

As we must not boast of tomorrow, so we must not care for

to-morrow, or the events of it. God has given us life, and has

given us the body. And what can he not do for us, who did that?

If we take care about our souls and for eternity, which are more

than the body and its life, we may leave it to God to provide

for us food and raiment, which are less. Improve this as an

encouragement to trust in God. We must reconcile ourselves to

our worldly estate, as we do to our stature. We cannot alter the

disposals of Providence, therefore we must submit and resign

ourselves to them. Thoughtfulness for our souls is the best cure

of thoughtfulness for the world. Seek first the kingdom of God,

and make religion your business: say not that this is the way to

starve; no, it is the way to be well provided for, even in this

world. The conclusion of the whole matter is, that it is the

will and command of the Lord Jesus, that by daily prayers we may

get strength to bear us up under our daily troubles, and to arm

us against the temptations that attend them, and then let none

of these things move us. Happy are those who take the Lord for

their God, and make full proof of it by trusting themselves

wholly to his wise disposal. Let thy Spirit convince us of sin

in the want of this disposition, and take away the worldliness

of our hearts.
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