The Mountain: Wealth

Then Jesus said a few things about wealth (48):

Don’t focus on building up your worldly wealth, because it won’t last.

crash

Instead, focus on building up your heavenly wealth, because it will last forever.

heaven-1

Wherever you’re storing up wealth is where your heart will stay focused.

And whatever you see with the eyes of your heart is ultimately what you’ll be.

eyes-on-god

If you keep your eyes on God, you’ll be filled with his light and you’ll become more godly. But if you don’t keep your eyes on God, you’ll be in the dark, no matter how much money you have.

Don’t try to serve God & money at the same time; it cannot be done.

 

(48) Matthew 6:19-24

The Mountain: Good Fasting

Finally, Jesus warned against fasting with strings attached — in contrast to good fasting (46):

And when you fast, don’t make a big show of that, either.  Because hypocrites want people to praise them when they fast, that’s all the praise they’ll get.

fake fast

Instead, when you fast (47), don’t let other people know it.

Fasting

And God, who sees what you do privately, will both praise & reward you.

 

(46) Matthew 6:16-18

(47) In the days of Jesus’ life & ministry upon the earth, fasting seems to have been more common than in our day. In depriving themselves of things like food & drink for a time, and devoting themselves to the service of others, people found it much easier to focus on God.  Fasting still works this way today.  But fasting is rarely practiced in modern cultures — even though there is so much more of which we might deprive ourselves for a time, and so many more human needs we might serve.

The Mountain: Good Praying

Jesus next warned against praying with strings attached — in contrast to good praying (45):

When you pray, don’t make a big show of that, either. Because hypocrites want people to praise them when they pray, that’s all the praise they’ll get.

Instead, when you pray, you should normally do it privately.  And God, who sees what you do privately, will both praise & reward you.

Private Prayer

When you do pray with other believers, don’t use a lot of meaningless words.  That’s what pagans do; they think that their fake gods will hear them because their prayers are so long!

But God already knows what you need before you ask him.  So try keeping it simple & praying together like this:

Praying Together

God, our father in heaven, we want to honor your holy name with our lives; we want you to be our king; we want your will to be done in our lives!

Please, give us today whatever we truly need for today.

Please, help us forgive the wrong things that other people have done to us. Please, forgive the wrong things that we have done to you.

Please, don’t put our faith to the test. Please, keep us safe from your enemies.

Jesus concluded by emphasizing that we must forgive to be forgiven:

If you forgive other people the wrong things they have done to you, God will also forgive you.

forgive

But, if you don’t forgive other people, then God won’t forgive you.

 

(45) Matthew 6:5-15

The Mountain: Good Giving

Jesus then warned against  giving with strings attached — in contrast to good giving (44):

Don’t perform your religious duties in public, so people will see how “religious” you are! God will not reward such two-faced giving.

giving

So, for example, when you give something to a needy person, don’t make a big show of it, as hypocrites do.  Because they want people to praise them, that’s all the praise they’ll get.

Instead, when you help a needy person, do it privately.

And God, who sees what you do privately, will both praise & reward you.

009-good-samaritan

 

(44) Matthew 6:1-4

The Mountain: Loving Enemies

Then Jesus gave the supreme example of the spirit of God’s word (43):

It has also been said, ‘Love your friends, and hate your enemies.’

But I say, love your enemies, too.

Love Enemies

As children of God in heaven, you must pray for people who persecute you! For God makes his sun shine on bad people as well as good people, and God gives rain to bad people as well as good people.

stephen

Besides, why should God reward you if you only love the people who love you? Even tax collectors do that!

And if you only speak to your friends, have you done anything special? Even the pagans do that!

Then Jesus concluded:

Instead of being like everybody else, God wants you to love other people completely — just as God himself loves you completely.

brubeck

 

(43) Matthew 5:43-48

The Mountain: The Extra Mile

Jesus gave yet another example of the spirit of God’s word (42):

It has also been said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’

But I say, do not seek revenge against any other person.

eye for eye

If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, let him slap your left cheek, too.

If someone wants to sue you in court for your shirt, let him have your coat as well.

If a soldier demands that you carry his pack one mile, carry it two miles.

extra_mile

Whenever another person asks you for something, give it to him.

Whenever another person wants to borrow something, lend it to him.

Whenever you’re labeled the loser in any of these situations, you haven’t lost anything of lasting value.

But, when you gain any victory over your wounded pride, then you’ve got something of timeless value.

 

(42) Matthew 5:38-42

The Mountain: Promises To God

Jesus gave another example of the spirit of God’s word (41):

It has also been said, ‘Do not break your promise to God.’

But I say, do not even make promises to God.

Do not promise by heaven, which is only God’s throne.

swear

Do not promise by the earth, which is only God’s footrest.

jwj-Drought-07076_997024a

Do not promise by Jerusalem, which is only the city of the great king.

destruction_complete

Do not even promise by your own head, because you cannot make a single hair on it white or black.

It’s sinful to try to add emphasis to your promises in that way.

Instead of promising to do what God says, just do what God says.

heart-of-a-good-samaritan-reveals

 

(41) Matthew 5:33-37