GROWTH AND SUCCESS IN LIFE – Lessons Learned at the Feet of Jesus – Sermon on Mount (Part 21)

The High and True Standard of God and His Kingdom is now developed by Jesus.  Rather than listening to the phony teachers of the Law, the guardians of the Law who twisted Truth for their selfish interests, Jesus now lays out what standards are in harmony with a correct understanding of the Old Testament.  The greatest sequel to this instruction is that Jesus in all he was and was to do came not to set aside or annual the Law but to fulfill it. In this following section of six antitheses, Jesus places his own authority over the misinterpretations of the religious norm of His Day…’It is said, but I say…’ (Matthew 5:21, 27, 31, 33, 38 and 43).  Separating the counterfeit from the Real.

The gauntlet is down, and the standard is set now threefold:First, righteousness must be greater than the religious leaders (5:20); Secondly, a life of perfection which is like God the Father (5:48), and now, third, righteous acts not to be seen by men (6:1).

Jesus now instructs His followers in the practical outworkings of being a disciple.  First, in how we give and care for others (last week).  Now, in how we pray.

Matthew 6:5-85“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

1.  Distinguishing the Real from the Counterfeit.  Not surprisingly, Jesus first goes back to his principles of private worship from instructions on giving.  Our prayers are to be private, in contrast to the phonies, who pray “to be seen by men.”  And as if to emphasize the point, these charlatans “keep on babbling.”They have received their reward in full.  In other words, rewards only with the praise from men.  No value to God.  Can you imagine how offensive this would be to the self important puffed up Pharisees.  One private beef.  The prayers of professional athletes in the stadiums is at least overdone if not a violation of these principles.  Come on, guys.  Go into your closets to pray.

2.  Guarantees about Praying with Right Motives.  The promise is real.  Our heavenly Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.  Remember the adage for giving, not letting your left hand know what your right hand is doing?  Same thing here.  Remember, we choose the effectiveness of our prayers by how we pray – praying in public gets no true or lasting reward, prayers privately with your God receive heavenly reward. 

3.  The Assurance.  Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.  Remember from the pen of James and life of Elijah?  James 4:2, 5:16b.  You do not have because you do not ask….The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. 

So to date, we have learned that the true followers of Jesus look to the standards and practices that are private, that look to the righteousness of God, that are not used to impress others, but follow in the train of Jesus, who is the fulfillment of the Law.

Next week, we start looking at the Lord’s prayer as taught by Jesus.  Trust your week is full of blessings and grace. 

— John Moore

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