The Kingdom's Message continued
Multiple Two: Heart Righteousness
1. Righteousness Surpassing Religion (5:17-20)
2. Six Teaching Contrasting Outer Righteousness and Inner Heart Change (5:21-48)
3. Three Examples Contrasting External Spirituality and Inner True Spirituality. (6:1-18)
Jesus' sermon on the mount was really a seminar divided into three sessions. Each session or presentation had three points. Chapter six of Matthew begins the third point of Jesus' session on heart righteousness. Jesus is going to reveal the heart's three spiritual disciplines: giving to the needy, prayer, and fasting. Jesus' main point was not to behave for the attention of others; kingdom people behave and live in the presence of Yahweh, expressing love and faith to Him (1).
Giving to the Needy (2-4)
Jesus begins by encouraging people not to pretend they are generous when their purpose in giving is the praise of others (2). Jesus taught that Kingdom giving didn't spend time gloating and self-congratulating but self-sacrifice was to be followed by self-forgetfulness (3). The very purpose of giving is to be secret—to sow a seed and hide it in the ground. Alms giving does not seek to draw attention to self so another can feel awkward for being in need, but giving to the needy was to honor the one in need and be directed at love for Yahweh (4).
Prayer to Yahweh (5-15)
Prayer, like giving, is not to be done for the notice of human eyes or to impress others in any way (5). Prayer is not to be done away from people or in private only; prayer is to be conducted wherever desired, for the eyes of One, the Father. It is not to be done with an impressive tone of a great spiritual giant but with the simplicity of a dependent child (6). Prayer is not to be marked with lofty and numerous words but it is to be aimed at a loving Father Who is already aware of every need imaginable (7).
Prayer is not to be an individual exercise of creative genius but built around the prayer Jesus gave His disciples. Jesus called upon His disciples "pray then like this" (8-9).
a) worship Yahweh as the ultimate Center of life
b) prophetically call for Yahweh's will to manifest as the ultimate purpose of life
c) depend upon Yahweh as the ultimate Provider of all things
d) surrender to Yahweh as the ultimate Forgiver of those who forgive
e) depend on Yahweh as the ultimate victory of temptation and evil (9-13)
This is only the outline to the prayer and a great beginning to anyone wanting to learn to pray in a Kingdom way, a way which seeks to be heard by the Father and not for the praise of others.
Jesus ended His point on prayer by giving a bit of commentary on forgiveness, making a special note that a person can be lost in their sin, trapped, even addicted by it as they remain unforgiving of others. Forgiveness is a Kingdom power which unleashes on the person doing the forgiving the power to not only be freed from the presence of sin but its power. Jesus was teaching here that it is spiritually impossible to get free from personal sin while remaining unforgiving (14-15).
When You Fast (16-18)
Fasting in the Kingdom is like prayer—not if it was done, but when it was done. Fasting is not for the purpose of impressing others nor gaining the applause of others. To fast to impress is to lose any spiritual reward the activity of fasting promised (16). When fasting people are not to be concerned about frequency, length, nor the opinions of others in fasting, they are to use fasting to focus their affection on Yahweh alone.
Fasting is not done for aesthetic reasons, to promote drastic self-discipline, so people fasting were encouraged to anoint and refresh themselves during fasting. The goal was not a degree of difficulty but focus on Yahweh. Jesus encouraged those fasting to not make it as hard as possible but to focus on Yahweh as deeply as possible (17).
Again, the word “secret" is used here, but it is not so much a matter of being out of sight but being so focused on Yahweh that He is the only One capturing your attention. A person's fasting may not be a secret to others, but it seems like a secret because of the focus on Yahweh (18).
Multiple Three: Major Internal Conflicts
Teaching on Greed and Anxiety Built Six Examples (19-34)
Jesus then in verse 19 begins the third session of His seminar, again gathering His presentation into three points. His subject matter deals with two very common internal conflicts: greed and anxiety. Jesus uses six examples to reveal the power that greed and anxiety has within the human soul.
1. Treasure (19-21)
Jesus warned that to make treasure of created objects is risky business. Instead, the Kingdom was experienced as people learned to take temporal objects and invest them in heavenly or spiritual purposes. Once a temporal object was invested in a non-material, spiritual, godly purpose, it was beyond being taken away; it was waiting to be inherited when the new heaven and earth were once again joined together (Revelation 21:1). Then Jesus revealed a secret: where someone invested their treasure is where they gave the affections of their heart (20-21).
2. The Eye (22-23)
Jesus then used the eye as a metaphor to explain that where a person focused attention is what filled up that person's life. A life focused on the right object would be full of light, but the eye focused on what was temporal and created would be full of darkness. If vision was focused on material objects, then the life would be full of darkness, while those filled with darkness would be deceived into thinking they were full of light (22-23).
3. Mammon (24)
Jesus then dropped the real Kingdom truth: you cannot focus on two things, nor can you treasure two things in your heart. The heart is only made to fully love and be devoted to one object. Ultimately, every human will either love money or God, and Jesus' point here was giving money, giving life in prayer and fasting, was like making a deposit into heavenly treasure or like focusing affection on Yahweh. When the heart was focused on two objects, it would naturally love one less and the other more. The Kingdom is experienced when Yahweh alone is worshiped (24).
4. Birds (25-26)
Jesus makes the point that life is more than food and clothing because even our food and clothing is provided by another, whether we see Him or not. Jesus appealed to the lesser of value birds of the air and their ability to not only gather food but their ability to instinctively know how to do it. All their food-getting was provided by Yahweh. God in every way provided for the birds to eat day by day, winter by winter, without them greedily and anxiously building storage barns. Implication: He wants the Kingdom to work the same way, only more glorious.
5. Life Span (28)
Jesus then reminds those listeners that through all of their anxious activities, none could add any stature to their life nor any time to their existence. The word in ESV is "span of life" can mean either height or length of life. None have control over their stature and none ultimately have control of their eternal length of life; anxiety serves no purpose in increasing either.
6. Lilies (29-30)
Jesus then picked up on the lilies who do not work for their clothing, yet each year they cover some meadow with their beauty. Not even Solomon, with all his anxious outfitting, could make himself look as amazing as a meadow covered with lilies by Yahweh. Of course, flowers are scorched in heat of the sun and burned to nothing, meaning they have far less value than people. Jesus starkly labels anxiety as the symptom of people of little faith.
Summary of Point on Greed and Anxiety (31-34)
Jesus assures those living under His Kingdom rule that they never need worry about eating, drinking, or clothing (31). The definition of a Gentile is one who focuses heart and vision on the material world; they are driven by anxiety and insecurity, resulting in a greed for things to remedy the heartbreak of their self-doubt.
Yahweh however knows exactly what everyone needs and promises to provide it all. Those hungering to experience Kingdom life were to repent, change the way they did their thinking, and seek Yahweh to rule their life—His character to be formed within their hearts.
As far as needs, they would be added to their lives without one second of worry (33).
Worry was simply a sign that there was no faith in the heart and no heart to focus complete and fully on Christ. Christ's promise: He would get everyone through every day's problem (34).
Jesus' Kingdom message was simple: those who would be free from shame and insecurity could receive grace to focus on Yahweh with all their affection, putting all their thoughts on Him.