"Do you seek to please God or men?"
At the conclusion of our last study, as we completed chapter five in the Book of Matthew, Jesus Christ told His disciples to become "perfect", which means to become complete or "mature" in the Word of God that we might be able through the knowledge and wisdom of His Word to deal with others as our Father would have us do, according to His will. In today's study Christ is going to continue His private instruction to His disciples on the mount and continue to compare their righteousness to that of the religious hypocrites, phonies, who follow after the traditions of men. In doing so, He is going to teach us concerning the five following categories:
Hopefully you will be able to "see" the difference between Christianity and Churchianity, which is but a "religion" based on traditions, not on the Word of God.
The Greek word translated "Take heed" in this verse is "pros-echo" which means to "turn one's mind, thought, or attention to a thing, be intent upon it" (see "A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament", E.W. Bullinger, pg. 366)! So when Jesus Christ says "prosecho" to us, He is instructing us to turn our attention to the points He is making and take a personal inventory to "see" whether our conduct aligns with the Word of God or the traditions of men as exemplified by the hypocrites, which means the play-actors, i.e. those who play the preacher/church game.Matthew 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.
Also, according to all the critical texts the phrase "your alms" should read "your righteousness" which is what these five subjects we are now covering (almsgiving, prayer, fasting, riches, and cares) have to do with. Remember Christ said that your righteousness must exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees (hypocrites) else you are simply not a disciple and servant of Jesus Christ and therefore "ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Mat. 5:20). You must be able to "see" through the hypocrisy of those who claim to be Christ's representatives but in fact have only a form of "religion" made up of the traditions of men and deceptively labeled "Christian". Why do we say "deceptively" labeled Christian?
Because a Christ-ian is a "Christ-man", a person who follows Jesus Christ, the Word of God, and not a follower of some church system laden with rituals and ceremonies and praise and worship services, etc., while its members remain Biblically empty-headed, i.e. void of the knowledge of His Word.
So "take heed" and examine yourself and have the courage to do a "reality check" against His Word. And should you discover that what you do in serving and giving to God, which is your alms, are done with the intent to be seen of men and women, then "know" that you have a real ego problem... because the glory you seek is for yourself and not for your Father which is heaven. Matthew 5:16 "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."
Do not sound a trumpet means "don't blow your own horn" to make an announcement, to draw attention to yourself, to make yourself look good and show people what a magnificent and magnanimous person you are! If you do blow your own horn, not only will that "glory" be the totality of your reward, but eventually, lest ye repent, Luke 14:11 will come to pass on your behalf: "For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." 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.
Just do that which is right according to His Word and let it go at that! You do not have to let others, including members of the body of Christ, know what you did either! For if you are mature (perfect) in the Word of God then the fact that your heavenly Father "knows" should be sufficient. In other words, just as one who is "mature" can be patient and have peace of mind in knowing that our Father will execute vengeance on His/our enemies, one who is "mature" also knows that He will not forget to reward those who love and serve Him. However, if you seek the glory of men to build yourself up, that is all the reward you are ever going to get. So glory hard! But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:
Do not be one who "wears your Christianity on your sleeve". In fact, be extra careful in your business dealings with those who do, those who go out of their way to boast and make it a point that they are Christian! Remember that Christ said to let your conversation be yea, yea, and nay, nay, so don't claim Christianity to "confirm to others" that your word is good... for if it is not, and it must not be if in your mind you need to use something else to make you "appear" credible, then you bring dishonor to Christ. That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
Oh how "religious" the hypocrites like to appear (act)! Many sport fancy robes. Some wear religious headgear or other hair coverings. Some get into special pious prayer positions, etc. All this they do "for show" which is to "be seen of men"! Is this how we are instructed to act? 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.
Here is the answer:
The word "closet" means a "secret place", especially of the mind. So no matter where you are physically, whether in a crowd or all alone, at any time whatsoever you can spiritually enter into that private place in your mind and shut the door, i.e. shut out the rest of the world, and speak directly to your Father. 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.
Stop and consider for a moment how one communicates with his or her earthly father. For example, imagine a teenager going to his father to ask to borrow the car for the evening and saying over and over to him in a monotone and drawn out voice, "Father may I have the car keys... to..nigh..ite? Father may I have the car keys... to..nigh..ite?", and so on! How effective do think that would be with most fathers? I mean, with everyone else you talk in a normal intelligent manner but with him you go into this religious mode thing? Go figure! But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
You see, to use vain repetitions is akin to stammering which is very similar to chanting. To that end, repeating a prayer in a ritual fashion over and over again is not something which comes from the heart and furthermore, it is really not personal communication at all, is it? Do you think that your heavenly Father is totally unaware of what is going on in the lives of His children, of which you are one?
Note: If you would like a great example of the vain repetitions of priests vs. the direct communication of God's servants to their Father, then read 1 Kings 18:25-39 concerning Elijah and the priests of Baal!
So be "mature" and grow up and cast aside the childish traditions of men! Your Father is very intelligent and it is an affront to speak to Him in such an impersonal and chanting manner! Take heed therefore to the instruction of Jesus Christ in the following verse and "do not be as one who uses vain (empty) repetitions"!
Maturity is knowing and believing Jesus Christ, the Word of God, who just said that your Father knows what you have need of even before you ask Him. Therefore, there is no need even to use vain repetitions, is there? HE KNOWS! In fact, just to confirm that He knows, we have documentation that sometimes He even provides the answer before His servants are finished with their prayers. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him.
Such was the case with Daniel!
So how do the servants of God pray and make supplications to their Father? Well, there is a proverb that begins with "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he..." (Prov. 23:7). And so it is with the prayer and communication that comes forth from any person. It originates with that which is in his or her heart, i.e. a person's thoughts and intents! To wit, we have already "seen" in the "Beatitudes" of Mat. 5 what is in the "heart" of a true disciple of Christ, remember? First and foremost, they are "poor in spirit" meaning they are humble before God and seek always to give Him the praise and glory, not themselves. Secondly, they "mourn" the injustice caused by the iniquitous and so they long for the kingdom to come, which is the return of the King and His dominion to be set up on earth as it is in heaven. To that end, they are "meek" in allowing the Word of God to guide and direct them in His "wonderful works" according to His will, that they may be of service in "finishing the work" He has sent them to do! Therefore, the prayers they make reflect that which is in their hearts, which is that they "love the Lord their God with all their heart, and with all their soul, and with all their mind" and they "love their neighbors as themselves" (Matthew 22:36-40).Daniel 9:21-23
Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.  And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding. At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision.
Jesus is now going to show us the "manner" in which His disciples pray and you will find contained in this manner, or model, "7" petitions. The first three are with respect to their love for their Father and the last four pertain to those things which are necessary for one to be a "just" (zadok) servant in carrying the light to the world, i.e. they concern their love for their neighbor, their fellow man. Here is a chart showing the reflection of the "beautiful attitudes" of the children of light in the "manner of the prayer of the elect", which is instead called the Lord's prayer.
|Thy name be hallowed||Matthew 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit (humble before God)|
|Thy kingdom come||Matthew 5:4 Blessed are they that mourn (Isa. 61:2)|
|Thy will be done||Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the meek (seeking His will)|
|Give us our daily bread||Matthew 5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness|
|Forgive us our debts||Matthew 5:7 Blessed are the merciful|
|Lead us not into temptation||Matthew 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart|
|Deliver us from evil|| Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers
Matthew 5:10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
The very first thing on the mind of His children is gratitude and their reverence (love) for their Father.Matthew 6:9
After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Note: The ironic part about "The Lord's Prayer" is that Christ said just before giving this "model" prayer not to use vain repetitions, and yet churches do exactly that and repeat this "manner of prayer" as a ritual itself.
Those who "mourn" pray for the kingdom to be established and His will, not ours, to be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Christ is that daily bread which comes down from above (as manna) and He is the Living Water and His disciples do eat of that bread and drink of that water for they do hunger and thirst after righteousness. And though we are in the midst of the great famine of these last days (Amos 8:11-13), His servants are filled to the full for there is always a feast at the table of the Lord. You see, His servants pray for the knowledge and wisdom to carry out His will in "declaring His righteousness" to this generation. Give us this day our daily bread.
A "wise" person knows full well that we all fall short in the flesh, that we all have faults. Furthermore, the wise know that some people's faults are more glaring than others. So let us be mature and show mercy and forgiveness towards others and let God be the one who judges! And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
One other important thing to make note of here is that asking for forgiveness is NOT the number one priority of God's elect! Some people are so consumed with their own sins and or penitence that their prayers consist of little more than "woe is me, what a sinner am I". To that end, here is a profound quote by E.W. Bullinger from the conclusion of his book titled, "How to Enjoy the Bible", Kregel Publishers, pgs. 416-417:
Are "you" your favorite subject? Do thoughts about "you" fill your "heart" to the point you have no "leisure", i.e. free time, to be occupied with God and "hear" His Word? Are you busy "condemning yourself" and thinking about what a sinner you are or what a low-life you have been in the past or what you should be doing or haven't done that you should have? Or are you busy trying to "be good" to atone for your sins, i.e. make up for what you have done or didn't do, to make yourself "feel" better and more worthy? Or are you busy trying to "convince yourself" that you have faith or that you are a good person when you feel like you are not? If any of these are true then you are not at "peace with God" and you do not have peace of mind, and the reason is that you do not really believe the words of Him who is far greater than you and who "Promised" He has forgiven and cleansed you when you confessed to Him. The Truth will set you free and it will free-up a great deal of wasted "processing time" in your head! May God give you wisdom to understand the rest of this profound quote:"We have written only for those who have "peace with God" (Rom. 5:1), and enjoy "the peace of God" (Phil. 4:7), and know the God of Peace (Rom. 15:33). Only such have leisure to be occupied with God. Only such can "sit at the Lord's feet and hear His Word" (Luke 10:39 R.V.).
All others must be "cumbered about much serving." They must need be occupied with themselves: either as sinners taken up with their sins, or as penitents with their repentance, or as believers with their faith, or as saints with their holiness.
And now last but not least on the "mature" minds of God's elect are their trials and tribulations and the deliverance from the evil one, which includes persecution and the delivering up to councils and synagogues which is yet to come. Why is this mentioned last? Because they know the Plan of God includes those things and furthermore He has ALL POWER in both heaven and earth and has already defeated death (Satan)! In other words, there is no doubt in their minds that He has the power to deliver them! You see, the shining of the their light which shall bring forth persecution and the witnessing of Mat. 24, Mark 13, Luke 21, Rev. 11, etc., show forth the glory of God! Compare that attitude with those who make "the Rapture" their number one priority.Unless and until we know our completeness in Christ (Col 2:10), and "believe God" when He declares that "He has made us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light" (Col. 1:12), we shall be in such a condition of conscience, and heart, and life as will not leave us any time of occupation with God.
Instead of going on our way "giving thanks to God" for what He has done, we shall be giving way to mourning for what we have not done. We shall be like David when he "sat in his house" and was occupied with what he would do for the Lord. For, not until we learn what the Lord has done and purposed to do for us, shall we be ready, with David, to go in and sit before the Lord (2 Sam. 7:1:18).
In the former case David's thought was, "Who I am"; in the latter he was exclaiming, "Who am I, O Lord God?"
This does not mean that we will not have temptations, i.e. trials and tribulations! On the contrary, Christ said that if they persecuted Him, and they did, they will also persecute you (John 15:20)! The point is that our Father has promised that He will not allow us to be led into "undeliverable" trials and temptations. In other words, He will always provide us a way of spiritual escape that we may be able to bear our trials and tribulations.Matthew 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.
Paul expounded upon this:
And we know with full assurance that He "will never leave nor forsake us" and that He is able to deliver us because He has ALL POWER in both heaven and earth. (Matthew 28:18 "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.")1 Cor. 10:13
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
Now Christ is going to emphasis the importance of being merciful and forgiving to others for their trespasses.
For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
Looks like we "make our own bed", doesn't it? Would it not be hypocritical to expect others to be kind and forgiving toward us while we are judgmental and grudgmental towards them? Again, that doesn't mean we let others take advantage of us or rip us off while we just stand by and do nothing about it. Rather be "mature" and use wisdom in understanding that we all have weaknesses and at times we do things we shouldn't. Paul understood this concerning himself! But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Romans 7:14-15 "For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.  For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I."
Again, the righteousness of His disciples, i.e. their doing that which is right, is compared to the hypocrites, the play actors, "religious" people! Don't put on a show to be seen of men. Do not even boast about how much you pray and study the Word of God, etc. 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.
Christianity is not a "religion", so don't be a fake! "Be real" and "down to earth" so to speak! But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;
The bottom line is, "Do you seek to please God or men?" The fact is, those who are "mature (perfect) in the Word of God, know that you CANNOT have it both ways! 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.
The rewards have already been declared... but choice is yours!
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