Always Be Ready

Jesus then taught his students the importance of readiness (130):  Always stay focused on God; always be ready to serve God.

God is like a master who comes home from a wedding & finds his servants ready & waiting to serve him, even if he doesn’t return until after midnight.

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In fact, God is so pleased with such faithful servants that he will actually serve them!  God will bless such faithful servants in ways that will make them happy beyond measure.

Keep this in mind, though.  If a homeowner knew that a thief planned to break into his home at a specific time, that homeowner would definitely be home at that time, ready to prevent the break-in.  He would not let the thief break into his house.

However, God’s timing is not predictable like that.  You must always be ready to meet God, because I will return to you at a time when you’re not expecting me.

Peter asked Jesus: “Master, is this teaching for everyone, or just for us?”  Jesus applied his teaching — both to his chosen witnesses and to all his followers – with this illustration:

A master sometimes needs to set a manager over his household.  If the manager carries out his responsibilities effectively & efficiently, the master will reward him & promote him to greater responsibility.

servants

But if the manager neglects his responsibilities & abuses his position of authority, the master will punish him severely.

The bottom line is this: the more God allows you to do in his service, the more God will expect you to do in his service.

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(130) Luke 12:35-48

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.

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(44) Matthew 6:1-4