MATTHEW 6

NOTES ON MATTHEW 6

Survey of the chapter

Having shown the error of the teachings of the scribes, and the way they failed to fulfil the law whilst at the same time professing to keep it, the King now turns His attention more to the Pharisees. Later He will label them as hypocrites, and it is their hypocrisy that is highlighted in this chapter.

Structure of the chapter

(a) Verses 1-4 Almsgiving
(b) Verses 5-15 Praying
(c)  Verses 16-18 Fasting
(d) Verses 19-21 Laying up treasure
(e) Verses 22-34 Priorities

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW CHAPTER 6, VERSES 1 TO 18:

6:1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.

6:2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

6:3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:

6:4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret Himself shall reward thee openly.

6:5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

6:6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

6:7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

6:8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him.

6:9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name.

6:10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

6:11 Give us this day our daily bread.

6:12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

6:13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

6:14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:

6:15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

6:16 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

6:17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;

6:18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.

(a) Verses 1-4 Almsgiving

Special note on Christian giving

The Old English word aelmysse, from which we derive the word “alms” as found in this chapter, comes from the Greek word “eleemosyne”, meaning pity. It is expected that pity for the poor will express itself in giving to the poor. The Lord said through Moses, “For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee sayng, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land”, Deuteronomy 15:11. Notice the pointed reference to “thy land”. God was about to give them a land flowing with milk and honey, and they were to express their gratitude to Him for His goodness by giving to the poor. The apostle Paul speaks in like manner in 2 Corinthians 8:9, “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich”. So the rich inheritance that Christ’s coming to earth has secured for us is the great incentive to give to further His interests. The apostle continues the theme of giving in chapter nine, and alludes to Psalm 112:9, with the words, “As it is written, he hath dispersed abroad: he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever”. So the righteous nature of the believer prompts him to perform righteous acts. Those acts include giving to the poor, and those who do that are assured that their righteous acts will remain on the memory of God for ever, for He is “not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward His name, in that ye have ministered unto the saints and do minister”, Hebrews 6:10.

Covetousness is condemned by both law and grace. The last of the ten words of commandment said, “Thou shalt not covet”, Exodus 20:17. This was the command that slew Saul of Tarsus. Whilst his fellow Israelites might sum up his outwardly religious life as being “blameless”, Philippians 3:6, yet the command that exposes heart and motive slew him, Romans 7:7-11. He was as good as dead as far as pleasing God by law-keeping was concerned. Only grace can make a man want to be a generous giver. In that connection, note the repetition of the word “grace” in 2 Corinthians 8,9, the chapters that have so much to say about giving.

Covetousness is condemned by grace too, for He who is grace personified, God’s Ideal Man, not only condemned it by His words, but also by His attitudes and actions. The first parable of the Perean ministry is that of the Good Samaritan. He who was vilified by men in the words “Thou art a Samaritan”, John 8:48 is pleased to accept the title to show that He was completely free from racial prejudice. It was others who robbed the traveller of money, clothes, and, very nearly, his life. But it was the Samaritan who gave his time, his energy, his oil and wine, his beast, his two pence, and also whatever other cost was involved during his absence. He became poor that the robbed man might be rich. And then comes the oft-forgotten command- “Go thou, and do likewise”. Apt as the parable is to illustrate the gospel, we should never forget the “do likewise”. Martha did not forget, for Luke immediately records that she received Him into her house, Luke 10:38, and she took care of Him, as the Samaritan and the inn-keeper had taken care of the traveller.

A man of a contrary spirit appealed to the Lord Jesus in Luke 12:13,14, for it seems he was dissatisfied with his share of an inheritance. The Lord utterly refuses to become involved, for there were procedures the man could follow if he had a grievance. But his request does give the Lord the opportunity to assert that “A man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of things which he possesseth”, Luke 12:15. A man’s natural life does revolve around necessities, but luxuries are no part of life, properly understood. These two things, luxuries and necessities, are the basis of Christ’s ministry at this point. Verses 16-21 have to do with luxuries whilst verses 22-34 give teaching about necessities.

Luxuries are expendable, and it is against the accumulation of the expendable that the Lord now warns in what has become known as “The parable of the Rich Fool”. This parable is often used, and rightly so, to warn the unsaved of the brevity of life and the certainty of death, and other things besides. We should note, however, that the application of this parable is addressed to disciples, verse 22.

The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully, Luke 12:16. If he was a Jew, the man would no doubt have prided himself on his blessedness. Were not his riches a sign of Divine favour? After all, God’s promise to those who obeyed His law was plentiful harvests, Deuteronomy 28:1-14. Only those who disobeyed would know famine. But the response of the man to his plentiful harvests is a certain indicator of the state of his heart. He sees in his plenty an opportunity for ease and enjoyment, all the while ignoring the needs of others.

With the coming of Christ a great change came in regard to riches. He came in grace, a higher principle than law. Since He has come, those who say “Gain is godliness”, must be withdrawn from, 1 Timothy 6:5, so contrary is that idea to the spirit of Christianity. Whereas in Old Testament times the spiritual person should have been pleased to associate with one who was blessed materially, for God was with him, now it is different. Too often, it seems as if the Lord’s people are still in Old Testament times in this regard. Those who only have enough, and have none to spare, are sometimes thought of as being inferior- perhaps even work-shy and incompetent. But would we dare to display this attitude to Christ? That most spiritual Man, who magnified the law and made it honourable, (and who therefore merited riches as a mark of Divine favour), became poor for our sakes. Behold His poverty at Calvary!

Having seen the rich man’s sham blessedness, we now are told of his real foolishness. It is no surprise to learn that he is a fool, for he thinks “within himself” :17. He is not prepared to allow the authority of the Word of God a place in his thinking. It is only as we allow the mind of Christ to govern our reasonings that we shall respond in a spiritual way to the temptations that riches represent. It is instructive to notice that when offered choices, Solomon refused riches and chose wisdom. But then because he had chosen wisdom, he was entrusted with riches as well, 1 Kings 3:5-13.

We next learn of the man’s lavishness. Unconcerned by the need all around him, (“For the poor ye have always with you”,) he embarks upon an extravagant building programme. Did he really need to pull down his barns? Could he not have erected an extension to the existing ones, and donated the money saved to a good cause? It was Ambrose who said, “The bosoms of the poor, the houses of widows, the mouths of children, are the barns which last for ever”. Goods bestowed in those barns will reap an eternal reward. And of course, they fill a need at the present time as well, so there is a double blessing.

But there is worse yet with this man, for he is determined to eat, drink, and be merry, refusing to consider the plight of others. The words of the apostles are relevant here, “If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone”, James 2:15-17. “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth”, 1 John 3:17,18. These are searching questions posed by the apostles – what doth it profit?…how dwelleth the love of God in him? Can those who profess to have been so remarkably and eternally benefitted by God in His love, shut their eyes to the needs of those around them, whilst all the time indulging their appetites?

Contrary to what he thought, this foolish man did not have “many years”. He was guilty of short-sightedness, as we all can be. It was that night that his soul was required of him, and he was called into eternity, and what he had done and been on earth was assessed. Solemn thought! The deeds believers have done in the body shall yet come under review, whether good or evil, and we shall receive for what we have done, 2 Corinthians 5:10. The good will be rewarded, the evil will be rebuked.

Now there comes the question, “Whose shall those things be which thou hast provided?” This is a question we could all profitably ask ourselves. The words of Job are plain- “Naked came I out of the womb, and naked shall I return thither”, Job 1:21. Job realised that he would not carry his vast possessions with him into eternity. And the apostle Paul no doubt had this in mind when he wrote, “We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we shall carry nothing out”, 1 Timothy 6:7. We ought to give serious attention to this matter of what will happen to what we possess, (be it much or little), when we leave this scene. Is it not the case that too often there are surpluses which could be invested in the work of God now, rather than waiting for Inheritance Tax to take its sizeable share?

The summary the Lord gives of the situation is brief. “So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God”. These are the alternatives, self or God. It should not be difficult for a believer to choose between the two. As the word is in another place, “Ye cannot serve (as a slave) God and mammon, (riches), Matthew 6:24. It is possible to have two employers at the same time, but it is not possible to be a slave to two masters at once, for slavery involves the total surrender of the will to another. We should ask ourselves the question therefore whether we are slaves to money or to God- there is no middle ground.

6:1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.

Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them- having learnt the lesson of 5:44, that we should do good even to our enemies, we are now given instruction as to how to do this in a spiritual way. Giving to the poor is to be done discreetly, and without show. Sadly, the Pharisees were guilty of turning giving to the poor into a means of drawing attention to themselves. As far as is possible, giving to the poor should be anonymous, unless it is impossible to give otherwise.

Otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven- we have the choice of giving secretly and being rewarded by Him who sees what is done in secret, or giving with show, and having reward from men when they praise our good deed. We cannot have both, for there is no reward from our Father if we have already been rewarded by men.

6:2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee- it is difficult to understand the mentality of someone who would do this ridiculous thing, but it obviously was happening, such is the pride of man, and its desire for the praise of fellow-men.

As the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men- the Jews thought that giving alms was a means of gaining righteousness, so where better to sound a trumpet than in the synagogue, where those present had, at least in theory, an appreciation of righteousness. A trumpet blown in the street would certainly gain attention, and the fact it was not done in a religious context would mean the trumpet-blower was trying to show his superiority to those who perhaps were not particularly religiously-minded. Whether in the synagogue or the street, the effect was that those looking on and listening on, would be impressed, and the man would gain prestige in their eyes.

Verily I say unto you, They have their reward- the man can expect no further reward than what he has received from men. He has his reward already, but it will not pass into eternity, for it is from men.

6:3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:

But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth- this is a graphic and powerful plea for secret and unostentatious giving. It is not natural for one part of our body to not know what the other is doing, so the Lord is emphasising a spiritual attitude, one that the natural man is unable to sustain.

6:4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret Himself shall reward thee openly.

That thine alms may be in secret- as far as is possible, giving to others should be anonymous. The main channel of giving is through the collection taken on the first day of the week in the assembly gathering. The apostle Paul gave instruction on that matter in 1 Corinthians 16:1,2. This ensures that no one person is singled out as being the giver. Of course, this should not be the only occasion we give, for needs arise that are known only to ourselves, and which perhaps it is not appropriate for others to know, to save embarrassment to the one to whom the gift is given.

And thy Father which seeth in secret Himself shall reward thee openly- the apostle Paul refers to the second coming of Christ to earth, and tells us that “He shall come to glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe”, 2 Thessalonians 1:10. So the more the saints have been rewarded for the good they have done, the more Christ will be glorified and admired when He comes to reign. And the apostle Peter writes about the trial of our faith, that it “might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearance of Jesus Christ”, 1 Peter 1:7. So the open and public display of reward will not be for our glory, but for His, for it was only by His grace that we acted in a spiritual way.

(b) Verses 5-15 Praying

6:5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are- seven times over the Lord labelled the scribes and Pharisees as hypocrites in Matthew 23, thus telling us that they had perfected the “art” of hypocrisy. The word comes from the Greek word “hypocritos”, which was the mask that actors wore on the stage. So it was that the scribes and Pharisees loved to be “on the stage”, prominent amongst men, making their presence felt, and all the while acting a part that was not real. Their lives were a pretence and a sham.

For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men- this is the same technique as with the giving of alms. Prayer had been turned by these men into a way of drawing attention to themselves, instead of drawing the attention of God to the needs of others. Instead of being an expression of reliance on God, prayer had been turned by these men into a good work, and as such represented reliance upon themselves.

Verily I say unto you, They have their reward- again the sure word of the King comes to the disciples about these men. Note that He speaks with confidence about what shall happen at judgement day, for He knows they will receive no reward then, for they have it already. He is conscious that all judgement has been given to Him as God’s Son, and as the Son of Man, John 5:22,27.

6:6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet- this is the complete contrast to standing on a street corner to pray. Instead of going out of the house to a public place, there is to be a retiring to a private place inside one’s own house. The word is also used of a storehouse in which farm produce is kept, Luke 12:24, so it does not have to be finely furnished. The main thought is that it is private, and can be shut off from the view of others. There is thus removed any thought that the praying is for outward show.

And when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret- the door is to be shut so that even one’s own household may not be present. (Needless to say, it is the responsibility of the believing head of a household to lead the prayers of those in the house, but the passage is not dealing with that side of things). When these conditions are met, they are in harmony with our Father’s character, for He only recognises prayers uttered in humility.

This is not to say that a believer may be walking down the street and pray to his Father, and because it is in a public place his Father does not hear. The point is the attitude of heart of the one doing the praying. In that situation, he is not praying to make a public show, but expressing the secrets of his heart privately. His own heart is his closet in that situation.

And thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly- it seems from this that there is a reward for complying with these commands, and that reward will be to the praise of Christ when He comes as King. The reward is for having the right attitude in prayer, not for the actual praying, which is not done for reward.

6:7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do- having given guidance as to where to pray, instruction is now given as to how. First there is a warning. The heathen do not pray in the Spirit, as believers do, so they have no way of empowering their prayers. They think that the more times they are said, the more likely they are to be answered.

For they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking- a clear instance of this is seen when the prophets of Baal called on their gods on Mount Carmel, 1 Kings 18:26,29. They called from morning to evening, but as Scripture puts it, “there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded”.

6:8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him.

Be not ye therefore like unto them- we should beware lest our prayers should merely be the repetition of well-worn words and phrases. There should be a freshness about them, lest we weary our God. It is helpful in this connection to notice that when the believers were thanking God for the release of Peter and John, they quoted Scripture at the beginning of their prayer, Acts 4:24-26, and then made their requests on the basis of what the scripture said. If we adopted this policy, then there would be a newness and vigour about our prayers, because they would be based on the living word of God.

For your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him- there does not need to be a repetition, in the same prayer, of the same requests, as if God did not hear or respond the first time. Far from needing to have the prayer uttered many times, God knows before we start to pray the need that causes us to pray. If He knows before our first request, then we do not need to request many times. Notice that although our Father knows our needs, He does desire that we go to Him about them, and not assume that since He knows, He will supply the need. The apostle Paul exhorted the Philippians to “let your requests be made known unto God”, Philippians 4:6. Notice also that it is needs that are in view, not wants. God supplies needs, Philippians 4:19, not our selfish wants.

6:9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name.

After this manner therefore pray ye- it is a sad commentary on the folly of Christendom that what follows has been used as a vain repetition, as if the Lord gave instructions how to disobey His command to not use vain repetition! He is giving the manner in which we should pray, not the words to use.

Our Father which art in heaven- the common title given to this prayer is “The Lord’s Prayer”. This is incorrect on three counts. As already noted, it is not a prayer as such at all, but gives guidelines to help us when we are praying. Secondly, it is not an example of the Lord’s personal prayers, because He would not link His people with His prayer, as if they were praying with Him. Thirdly, He was ever careful to preserve His unique relationship with His Father. He will speak of “My Father and your Father”, John 20:17, but not “Our Father”, as if the relationship of believers to their Father is the same as His. He is the Son of the Father in an eternal relationship, for He could speak of the glory He had with the Father before the world was, John 17:5. Believers are children of God “by faith in Christ Jesus”, Galatians 3:26. There is a beginning to their relationship, therefore. We should not assume that since the pattern starts with “Our Father”, that it is a prayer to be said collectively, but it is a formula that all should use in their individual prayers, and also when believing men lead the prayers of others. The words are clearly guidance for believers, since it is only they who can call God their Father, being born again of the Spirit of God. The prayer that God is waiting to hear from sinners is “God be merciful to me a sinner”, Luke 18:13.

Hallowed be Thy name- the one praying is to desire, at the outset, that God’s name may be hallowed, or set apart from all other names, thus preserving the uniqueness of God. The Lord Jesus in His prayer prior to the cross described His Father as “the only true God”, and thus hallowed His name. Israel’s high priest wore a gold plate on his forehead with the words “Holiness unto the Lord” inscribed on it, Exodus 28:36-38. Christian priests should always have the holiness of God in mind. Everything the believer says and asks as he prays should be in harmony with the holiness of the character of God as expressed in His holy name.

6:10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Thy kingdom come- the believer should long that in this world, (for the King is referring to a kingdom that is coming on the earth), which in so many ways is contrary to the holiness of God, may be rid of all that offends Him, and His government of men expressed. Notice that it is the King Himself who is speaking, yet He does not say, “My kingdom come”, for when He comes to reign He shall do so as God’s Firstborn, Hebrews 1:6, and He will reign as mediator to subdue all things to God.

Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven- this is the logical consequence of the previous desire. Only when God’s kingdom is established on the earth shall the will of Satan and men be counteracted, and the will of heaven, (where the angels obey Him gladly), and the will of the men of earth shall coincide.

6:11 Give us this day our daily bread.

Give us this day our daily bread- the sense is, “Give us this day the bread we need for today”. We are to pray in faith, and faith does not need to store up, but can trust God to be tomorrow what He has been today. We have learnt from verse 8 that our Father knows we have need of bread for a day, and yet He desires that we express our dependence on Him by asking. We see from this that we should not take anything for granted, but that even the basic needs of life come to us out of our Father’s love for us.

We can see the special relevance of this request to the persecuted remnant of Israel during the Great Tribulation, when no man can buy or sell without the mark of the Beast upon them. There will be those prepared to allow God to use them to feed this remnant, and for this they will be rewarded. Christ will say, “inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me”, Matthew 25:40.

6:12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

And forgive us our debts- the parallel passage in Luke reads, “And forgive us our sins; as we also forgive every that is indebted to us”, Luke 11:4. The use of the word sins, and then the idea of debts, defines what the debts are, namely sins committed against others which have put us under an obligation to set right. There was provision under the law for this in the form of a trespass offering. Despite being a trespass against one’s neighbour, it was nonetheless a trespass against the Lord, and needed His forgiveness, and this would correspond to the fact that the expression “forgive us our debts” is an appeal to God, with the next phrase relating to others.

The matters which are listed in Leviticus 6: 1-5 are as follows:

“And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, If a soul sin, and commit a trespass against the Lord, and lie unto his neighbour in that which was delivered him to keep, or in fellowship, or in a thing taken away by violence, or hath deceived his neighbour; Or have found that which was lost, and lieth concerning it, and sweareth falsely; in any of all these that a man doeth, sinning therein: Then it shall be, because he hath sinned, and is guilty, that he shall restore that which he took violently away, or the thing which he hath deceitfully gotten, or that which was delivered him to keep, or the lost thing which he found,

Or all that about which he hath sworn falsely; he shall even restore it in the principal, and shall add the fifth part more thereto, and give it unto him to whom it appertaineth, in the day of his trespass offering.

And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the Lord, a ram without blemish out of the flock, with thy estimation, for a trespass offering, unto the priest: And the priest shall make an atonement for him before the Lord: and it shall be forgiven him for any thing of all that he hath done in trespassing therein”.

There is a marked difference between those words and the words of Christ as He instructs us in our prayers. There is nothing about bringing a sacrifice as a trespass offering. The Lord is anticipating the time after He has died when the benefits of His sacrifice are credited to all who believe, so that they do not have to bring a sacrifice themselves. When He healed a leper, the Lord instructed him to go to the priest “and offer for thy cleansing, according as Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them”, Luke 5:14. But such a thing is not necessary now.

The foregoing does not mean that the believer has no responsibility to put things right that are wrong. We should notice the principle that is established in the words of Leviticus 6, that where a neighbour has been wronged, he should be compensated in some way, even over and above the loss he sustained, for the offender was to “add the fifth part more thereto”. Zachaeus grasped this idea, and said that “if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold”, Luke 19:8. When he said this, the Lord indicated that his conversion was genuine, for he had “brought forth fruits unto repentance”, and he could be described as a son of Abraham, a true believer. The apostle Paul makes it clear that the believer will fulfil the righteousness, (meaning the righteous requirement) of the law, as he walks in the power of the Spirit of God, Romans 8:4. The righteous requirements of the law with regard to trespasses were firstly, that they should be recognised as being an insult to God, needing His forgiveness. Secondly, that such forgiveness was on the basis of sacrifice. And thirdly, that recompense to the person trespassed against was to be made.

As far as initial salvation is concerned, the sinner who believes is forgiven all his trespasses, Colossians 2:13. That forgiveness is on the basis of the sacrifice of Christ. We read that “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them, and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation”, 2 Corinthians 5:19. The ground of that word of reconciliation to men is the work of Christ on the cross, “For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him”, verse 21. This is the fulfilment of the “ram without blemish…for a trespass offering”, of Leviticus 6:6, for the prophet Isaiah wrote of the Messiah, that God would “make His soul an offering for sin”, Isaiah 53:10, where the word for offering is “trespass offering”.

The third righteous requirement when a trespass had been committed was that the one who had committed it should recompense the one he had wronged. This is why Zachaeus said what he did. And it is why the apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians believers, exhorting them, “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth”, Ephesians 4:28. The converted thief might not be able to recompense those he had wronged before he was saved, but he could earn money to help the poor instead, thus showing his profession was real.

As we forgive our debtors- this half of the verse presents the other side of the matter. If the first phrase is the plea of one who had trespassed against his neighbour, this second phrase is the expression of one who had been wronged. Of course, it could be one and the same person, in connection with different incidents. Under the law, he could have demanded that he be recompensed over and above the amount he had lost. Now, under grace, the believer does not look for a return. He has such a sense of gratitude to God for the forgiveness of sins, that he can readily accept the wrong done to him. He will be in the good of the words, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children”, Ephesians 4:32; 5:1.

It is important to notice that later in the gospel, Matthew will give Christ’s commands as to what to do when a trespass is committed. The one who is trespassed against must go and confront the offender, Matthew 18:15. If he is responsive when he is told his fault, then the brother has been gained, meaning he is not lost to the opportunities of fellowship, and the rift between them can be healed. The basis of this is repentance on the part of the one who has trespassed, in which case the wronged brother can forgive him righteously, for the Lord said elsewhere of one who had trespassed, and had been rebuked for it, “If he repent, forgive him”, Luke 17:3.

If the one who has trespassed does not respond to being confronted, then the next stage is for the wronged one to take one or two believers with him, and repeat the process. This means that the matter has now been heard before two or three witnesses, the requirement if matters are to settled righteously. If this fails, the matter is to be brought before the church, and if he does not admit his fault in this setting, and after three attempts at settling the matter, he is to be thought of as an unbeliever, just like a heathen man or a publican.

Hopefully, however, there will be a better outcome, and the man will repent, and he may justly be forgiven by the wronged brother. This will enable the latter to pray, “as we forgive our debtors”, and the one who had done the wrong to pray, “and forgive us our debts”, realising that his sin had been against God as well as his brother.

Summarising, then, we may say the following about the two prayers in this verse. First, that since it in the context of prayer by one who knows God and Father, the prayers are on the part of believers. They are not vague appeals to God to forgive sins so that salvation from them may be obtained. They are prayed by believers who have taken steps to deal with trespasses, either committed against them or by them. On the one hand, “forgive us our debts” is the prayer of one who, having trespassed, has put the matter right, and now, on the basis of the work of Christ at Calvary, can know the forgiveness of his Father for the wrongs done. On the other hand, those who have been trespassed against, and having taken steps to successfully resolve the matter, can now sincerely say in the presence of God that they are righteously in an attitude of forgiveness towards the one who trespassed against them.

6:13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

And lead us not into temptation- there are four directions from which temptation comes to believers. There is temptation from the devil, as 1 Thessalonians 3:5. There is temptation from within, for we are told that “every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed”, James 1:14. There is temptation from God, as in the case of Abraham, of whom it is said, “God did tempt Abraham”, Genesis 22:1. (James expressly warns us against saying that the temptation from within is from God, James 1:13). Then there is temptation from the trials that come our way, the trial of our faith, 1 Peter 1:7.

Since the next phrase in the prayer has to do with evil, we may safely say that the temptations of this verse do not come from God, for He never tempts us so that we need to be delivered from sin. He ever seeks to bring the best out of us. We conclude then that by inserting this petition into His prayer-principles for believers, the Lord is teaching us to realise our weakness. We need to ask our Father to lead us in a pathway which prevents either the flesh or the Devil tempting us to sin. So the petition, although appearing to be negative, and also appearing to suggest that God might lead us into temptation unless we ask Him not to, is in fact the opposite, for it expresses a holy and positive desire that a pathway of obedience to God may open up before us.

But deliver us from evil- this will happen if we pray the first part of the sentence, with its desire to walk a pathway pleasing to God. The result will be deliverance from the evil that would otherwise confront us, and possible overcome us. So in the context it is deliverance from possible evil, rather than from an evil situation we are already in. The latter would be the case if the phrase was a separate request.

For Thine is the kingdom- this may be seen as the basis for all the prayer-principles, and not just the last one. It includes the idea that at all times God’s kingdom is over all, Psalm 103:19. He is totally in control of all circumstances and all men. He is also the one who shall bring in His manifest kingdom when His Son comes to reign. Because these things are a reality, we may confidently appeal to our Father to overrule for us in the ways set out in the passage here.

And the power- He is fully able to bring to pass all that is requested, and to thwart the Devil’s attempts to hinder them.

And the glory- how fitting that the prayer requests should conclude with the recognition that all glory belongs to God, and He will work for His glory at all times. Prayers which have His glory in view are sure to be answered.

For ever- the kingdom is for ever, so is the power and the glory. That being so, they must be unchanging things, and no evil power can alter them. Prayer to such a God is worthwhile and will certainly meet a response in harmony with who He is.

Amen- although we have said that these words do not make up a prayer to be recited, but are simply pointers and principles, nevertheless they conclude how a normal prayer concludes, with the desire that what is stated and asked for may be granted. Amen means “May it be so”, on our lips, but when God says “Amen” it means, “It shall be so”. The word in the Old Testament is connected with the idea of being firm and sure, and is used of God by Isaiah when he wrote that God was “the God of truth”, or as it might be thought of, “the God of the Amen”, Isaiah 65:16. He delights to say “It shall be so” to our prayers, as long as they have His glory in view. We should delight to say “May it be so”, showing that our prayer is earnest.

6:14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:

For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you- this and the next verse form an appendix to the pointers for prayer in verses 9-13, with special reference to verse 12. The King emphasises this important principle by virtually repeating it, but as He does so He substitutes the word “trespasses” for “debts”, thus making clear what is meant by “debts” in verse 12. The lesson is clear, that if our relationship with our heavenly Father is to be unspoiled, then the relationships between believers are to be in righteous adjustment.

6:15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses- we should always remember the context is that relationships between believers is in view, and believers have been forgiven judicially for their sins. The apostle John wrote, “your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake”, 1 John 2:12. So sins are not forgiven in the sense we are thinking of for the sake of acts performed, such as forgiving one’s brother, but for the sake of the name of Christ.

When the family harmony is spoiled, however, trespasses must be dealt with so that peace can be restored. And that restoration is not only in relation to the other members of the family, but in relation to the Father of the family. If matters of this sort are outstanding at the judgement seat of Christ, then they will be dealt with. The apostle Paul warns that “we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad”, 2 Corinthians 5:10. By “bad” is meant that which is not suitable for a believer, and an unforgiving spirit is certainly not suitable for a believer.

(c) Verses 16-18 Fasting

6:16 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast- we come now to the third practice of the Pharisees, namely that of making a virtue out of fasting. The Lord’s summary of their behaviour was, “Even so ye appear outwardly righteous unto men, but within are full of hypocrisy and iniquity”, Matthew 23:28. An example of this was the “prayer” of the Pharisee in the temple, “God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess”, Luke 18:11,12.

Not only did the hypocrites turn fasting into a display of outward righteousness, they turned it also into self-advertisement, a way of drawing attention to themselves. Of course this was the very opposite of the attitude of Christ who, even though in the form of God, nonetheless made Himself of no reputation. He was uniquely qualified to describe the Pharisees as hypocrites, for He could do it without being a hypocrite Himself.

Instead of fasting secretly and without outward show, the Pharisees and other hypocrites exaggerated their supposed suffering by facial expressions that others were expected to interpret as deep sorrow for sin, but which in fact were a parade of their supposed religiousness.

Verily I say unto you, They have their reward- these men looked for reward in terms of others applauding their “holiness”. Those who were not very discerning would give them the reward they were seeking, but the King, who does not judge after the sight of the eyes, Isaiah 11:3, judges otherwise, and declares here that the reward from men is the only one they will receive.

6:17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;

But thou, when thou fastest- the King does not mean to discourage fasting. Today, fasting might not take the form of abstinence from food. The Christian’s whole life should be one of self-denial for the sake of God’s interests and man’s welfare. We are not here to promote self, nor to pander to selfish desires. Our lives should be marked by temperance and self-control, holding back from indulging ourselves, but reaching out to benefit others in every way we can.

Anoint thine head, and wash thy face- the true subjects of the King will not put on a show, but will disguise the fact that they are living a life of self-denial. Just as when they give, they let not their right hand know what their left hand is doing, so they do not advertise that they are fasting. The Lord Jesus was the Man of Sorrows, but we are sure He did not move around looking miserable. Those who were in mourning did not anoint their heads with oil as was usual. The prophet Daniel tells us that “In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled”, Daniel 10:2,3. Joab said to the wise woman of Tekoah, “I pray thee, feign thyself to be a mourner, and put on now mourning apparel, and anoint not thyself with oil, but be as a woman that had a long time mourned for the dead”, 2 Samuel 14:2.

6:18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.

That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret- going without food so as to concentrate on spiritual things is a God-ward act; it is not for man to know. There is no reason to draw attention to it, then. In verse 6 our Father is said to see in secret, here He is in secret.

And thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly- this might suggest that for our Father to be in secret and also to see in secret are the same thing. He sees, in His secret place, what is done, and that should be our main consideration. When the time comes, however, and Christ is manifest on earth to reign, it will be very evident what has been done in secret. Christ is coming to be glorified in His saints, 2 Thessalonians 2:10, for what they have done and been for Him will enhance His splendour. The results of the trial of our faith will be discovered to be to His praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ when He comes to reign, 1 Peter 1:7.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW CHAPTER 6, VERSES 18 TO 34:

6:19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

6:20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

6:21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

6:22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

6:23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

6:25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

6:26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

6:27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

6:28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:

6:29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

6:30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall He not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

6:31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

6:32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

6:34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

(d) Verses 19-21 Laying up treasure

6:19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth- here are commandments from the One who for our sakes became poor, so that we might be spiritually rich. And one aspect of those spiritual riches is the attitude of heart that desires to further heaven’s interests and not our own. This means that we shall not seek to heap up treasures for self’s enjoyment. If it should be that we are entrusted by God with more than we need, then the surplus is to be used to help others. Verses 1-4 have already given instruction with regard to this.
Where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal- moths attack clothing, and rust attacks coinage, so whether it be the finery of the womenfolk, or the resources of the menfolk, they both are subject to gradual decay. Having spoken of “putting on of apparel”, Peter describes the better thing, even “that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit”, 1 Peter 3:4, implying that apparel is corruptible and temporal.

But these things are not just subject to gradual decay, but they may be suddenly snatched away by thieves as they break through the treasure chest where we have hoarded them and flee with their haul.

6:20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal- this is the contrasting and better policy, which will be adopted by those who as subjects of the King, have learnt His attitudes. It is not simply that there is no decay or stealing in heaven, but that God preserves in His mind that which has been done for His glory, and will recompense in due time. It is a strange paradox, that those who give away their resources on earth, will meet up with them again in a day to come. Those who keep them for themselves on earth, will never see them again. The proverb says, “He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given will He pay him again”, Proverbs 19:17.

6:21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also- how we respond in this great matter of what we do with resources available to us will indicate where our interests lie. To gain treasure here is to have a heart that is set on earthly things. To lay up treasure in heaven is to show that heaven’s interests are our prime concern.

(e) Verses 22-34 Priorities

The remaining verses of the chapter give to us guidance which is applicable to the previous subjects treated, namely almsgiving, praying, fasting, and the laying up of treasure. We shall be helped in obeying commands about those matters if we have our priorities adjusted aright. It is all to do with spiritual insight.

6:22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

The light of the body is the eye- the Creator of the eye is speaking, and reminding us that the only way our body can function efficiently is through the light that comes in the eye. What we see with this one member affects our whole body and its activity.

If therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light- there is an eye-complaint called double vision, where all objects look as if they are pairs, and it is not clear where the object actually is. If the eye is free of this complication, then it will function properly and enlighten us as to the true state of things. As a result, we shall aim for one only thing, and not be confused.

The apostle Paul prayed for the believers at Ephesus, “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him: the eyes of our understanding being enlightened, that ye may know…”, Ephesians 1:17,18. Every true believer is indwelt by the Spirit of God the moment they believe the gospel, so the apostle is not praying that they might receive Him. He was praying, however, that the believers might know Him in His character as the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, and that they might take advantage of His ability to enlighten the eyes of their understanding. If they responded to this ministry of the Spirit, it would be as if their eye was single, and their whole body would be full of light, with each part of them knowing what is appropriate.

6:23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness- if our vision is distorted in some way, perhaps by a cataract, its ability to transmit light into our body so that we may conduct ourselves properly is impaired. This affects the whole of us, so we are, as we say, “in the dark” about things.
If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! If the light comes through a distorted lens, and nothing is seen as it should be, we are mislead. We respond to what we think is light, but which in fact is darkness. To know it is dark is one thing, for we react accordingly, but to think the darkness is light is an evil thing. Such darkness, because it is thought to be light, is a greater darkness because it not only obscures but misleads.

6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

No man can serve two masters- this is a development of the foregoing words about the single eye. To try to serve two masters is to live with double vision. The word for serve here is to serve as a slave. It is possible to work for two employers, but in the days of slavery, the master of the slave had total control over him, and he was not free to serve a second master.

For either he will hate the one, and love the other- if the attempt was made for a slave to serve two masters, his affections could not be wholly on them both. He would have a preference, and the one he did not love he would not serve well.

Or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other- with the passage of time, the slave would wish to stay with the one he loved and was attached to. More and more he would begin to despise the other, and long to be free. So trying to serve two earthly masters at the same time does not work, for the heart is divided.

Ye cannot serve God and mammon- here is the application of the illustration. The two masters are God and mammon, meaning riches. We cannot serve both of these effectively at the same time, for they are mutually exclusive. If we love God, we shall hate mammon. If we hold to God, we shall despise mammon for what it could do to our relationship with God.

6:25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

Therefore I say unto you- on the basis of the illustration of the two masters. The King is commanding us not to let anything, even everyday things, distract us from the service of God. If we long to live luxuriously, we shall have to serve mammon to be able to do it.

Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink- the idea is that the basic and necessary things that we need to support our natural life, such as food and drink, should not so occupy us that we neglect the more important spiritual things. Of course we should eat and drink nourishing things, and not have a diet of junk food.

Nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on- of course we need to clothe ourselves, but we should not be obsessed with worldly fashions and dress extravagantly with expensive clothing. God values the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit. So whether it be internally, food and drink, or externally, clothing, we should be content with the basics.

Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? We should be careful to concentrate on the things that really matter, for our life should be dedicated to God’s interests, and our body used in His service. There is an appeal here to our spiritual judgement, and it should not be difficult for us to decide these matters. If our eye is single, and if we respond to the ministry of the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, we shall easily see the course we should adopt.

6:26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

Behold the fowls of the air- God’s creation is designed to teach us lessons, and what follows is one of them.

For they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns- birds do not sow, for they live from day to day. They do not reap, for they have not lived from month to month cultivating crops. They do not gather into barns because they leave next year’s supply to their Creator.

Yet your heavenly Father feedeth them- as the days and months and years go by, He unfailingly supplies their needs. He does not expect them to be anxious; nor are they.

Are ye not much better than they? The believer is better because to be human is to be better than to be animal. He is better because he has life from God. He is better because he has the ability to make provision for the future, yet does so in faith. He is better because he has the capacity to live like Christ, who trusted in His God at all times. We are asked a question here, so that we might be challenged to give an answer.

6:27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? If we were to disregard the command of verse 25, and be filled with anxiety, even about being short of stature, would eating and drinking make us an extra cubit tall? To eat and drink is to grow taller when we are young, and that is normal. But adding anxiety to our diet does not increase our height. The average height of a child aged 10, (when we could say life-decisions begin to be made), is 54.5 inches. One cubit is approximately 18 inches. So a child can grow one cubit in height until he is six feet tall simply by eating and drinking normally. He does not have to be anxious about it, it just happens.

6:28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:

And why take ye thought for raiment? The same goes for clothing. Of course we must consider what is appropriate, decent, and value for money. But to be obsessed with fashion needs is to have missed the point of being a believer.
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin- just as the birds had a lesson for us in verse 26, so the flowers now teach us. The King invites His first hearers to admire the flowers of the field as they grew in profusion around their feet. They do not work to earn money to buy fine clothing, nor do they spin their own clothing.

6:29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

And yet I say unto you- the “greater than Solomon”, Matthew 12:42, is speaking, He who created the flowers.

That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these- even though he was extremely rich, Solomon was not clothed as the flowers are. And even though he was glorious in his royal robes, he could not compete with the humble flower of the field. Such is the care the Creator lavishes upon the flowers.

6:30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall He not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field- so plentiful are these flowers that they are as common as the grass, showing the greatness of the work of caring for them each one.

Which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven- in Bible times those in rural areas would dig a hole in the ground, line it with clay, and then fill it with dried grass which, when lit, would burn fiercely, thus heating up the clay sides of the oven. Then the bread-dough would be placed in the oven to be cooked by the heat retained in the walls. The point here is that grass and the flowers mixed in with it is so common that it is used as fuel. Despite its beauty one day, it is burnt up the next day.

Shall He not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? If our Maker expends such care to make a thing of beauty like the lily of the field, which quite possibly will become oven-fuel, is it not logical to think that He will care for His own children, even if some of them are of little faith? The lilies have no faith, but He cares for them enough to clothe them with better finery than Solomon had. Believers have faith, to a greater or lesser degree, so may we not trust Him to care for us, even in the matter of clothing?

6:31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? We are commanded by the King to not be anxious about the necessities of life, for the birds have taught us that God feeds His own, and the flowers have taught us that He clothes His own. The birds and the flowers do not worry, so nor should we. Needless to say, this does not mean we should be unthinking about these matters. Rather, we should have confidence in our Father’s care in them.

6:32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) Here is a further reason to not be taken up with ordinary affairs. The Gentiles who know not God actively seek the best food and wine and clothing. To them necessities are not enough; they must have luxuries. When believers begin to seek the same things as unbelieving Gentiles seek, then they have forgotten their heavenly calling, and have begun to “walk as men”, 1 Corinthians 3:3. This is, as the apostle indicates in that verse, a sure sign of carnality.

For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things- that our Father knows is the perfect antidote to us worrying. He not only knows in general, but He knows about all the things we need; we shall lack nothing.

6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness- having summarised the position as far as the unbeliever is concerned with the words, “after all these things do the Gentiles seek”, what the believer is to seek is here defined. He is to make the spiritual things that pertain in the kingdom of God the first priority of his life. The apostle Paul would later write, “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost”, Romans 14:17. The mention of meat and drink in that verse is in the context of believers from a Jewish background thinking that some foods were not to be eaten by Christians. Still, the principle is clear, that temporal things fade into insignificance compared to the weighty matters pertaining to the kingdom of God.

Believers already have the imputed righteousness of God, so they are not here commanded to seek it again. Since they have a righteous nature, they are now able to do righteous things, and they are to concentrate on these, and not be distracted by the earthly and the worldly.

And all these things shall be added unto you- the command of the first part of the verse is now followed by a promise. God pledges to supply the needs of those who seek to further the cause of His kingdom.

6:34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Take therefore no thought for the morrow- it must be emphasised that the King is not encouraging us to be reckless, and not have fore-thought. We need not expect our daily food to arrive by a miracle each day. The apostle Paul wrote, “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat”, 2 Thessalonians 3:10. And “if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel”, 1 Timothy 5:8.

What the King is warning against is worry that takes us over, so that we are so distracted that important spiritual matters are neglected. We could ask ourselves if the birds have any thought for the morrow? If they did, they would sow, and reap, and gather into barns. But they do not those things, yet they are provided for.

For the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself- there is time enough on the morrow to be occupied with necessary things. We do not need to concern ourselves about tomorrow until it arrives.

Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof- those things that might worry us, (“the evil”), but which should not, should not be carried over from one day to the next.

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