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Matthew 6 – Boundless Bible Challenge



“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

– Matthew 6:10


Spiritual disciplines are actions that help us produce a specific character or pattern of behavior.  The term itself sounds awful because we naturally think negatively of anything that involves discipline.  While spiritual disciplines may not necessarily be the most fun things, they cultivate in us the pattern of a disciple and bring us closer in relationship with the God we love.

In this continuation of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus turns his focus to a few spiritual disciplines as well as to how disciples are to handle their money, possessions, and needs.


In , Jesus said that we are to shine the light of Christ for the world to see.  It would seem strange for him to then talk about three things we should keep secret: giving, praying, and fasting.  The primary difference is that some good deeds show the love of Christ and bring glory to God while other righteous acts, such as giving, prayer, and fasting, are meant to be a practice of worship between the individual and God.

In , Jesus talks about giving to the needy.  Giving to the needy is an essential part of the church’s mission and is an expectation of every follower of Christ.  Notice that Jesus does not say “If you give to the needy…” – instead he says, “When you give to the needy…”  Giving to the needy is to be done in secrecy.  Jesus emphasizes the level of secrecy to be taken by saying that not even a person’s left hand should know what the right hand is contributing ().  Such humble actions are rewarded by the Father.

In this portion of his message, along with his teaching on prayer and fasting, Jesus instructs the disciples to not do what the hypocrites do.  Hypocrites are people who do or act a certain way in one setting, but do or act in a different way in another setting.  Jesus tells his disciples that these hypocrites have “received their reward in full.”  The boastful giving, praying, and fasting that the hypocrites practice results in the only reward they will receive – the praise of man.  Followers of Christ, on the other hand, are to do these practices in secret and will be rewarded by God.

Jesus again disapproves of how some people pray to God ().  In , Jesus tells a parable about a Pharisee and a tax collector praying at the temple.  The Pharisee’s prayer is improper and boastful.  He boasts about his fasting and giving and thanks God that he is not like the tax collector or other unrighteous men.  The tax collector, on the other hand, prayed to God to be merciful on him because of his sinfulness.  He was not boasting about his accomplishments, but fell at the feet of God to declare his unworthiness and desire for mercy.  Jesus says that the tax collector went home justified instead of the Pharisee.

In , Jesus instructs that we should not heap up empty phrases in our prayers.  I am sure we have all been to church when someone proudly stands at the pulpit, uses about 20 theological terms we are unfamiliar with, and quotes a few King James passages for extra measure.  Public prayer is probably the time we are most vulnerable to babble or use empty phrases.  It is crucial that we understand that our prayer is not for the benefit of the men and women listening to us pray, but to praise and petition God and give him glory in our prayer.  Jesus gives us a model prayer to use in .  The structure of this “prayer template” is interesting.  The first half () is directed to God and praising who he is.  This portion acknowledges his holiness, expresses the desire for his kingdom to be established on the earth, and seeks obedience to his holy will.  The second half () is prayer concerning ourselves.  It asks God for sustenance, forgiveness, and guidance.  This modeled prayer shows us how to simply pray to God to praise him and request the things we need for the day.

Jesus’ final correction for these spiritual practices deals with the topic of fasting ().  Fasting does not necessarily have to be giving up food or a certain meal.  There are fasts from media, hobbies, and habits.  Fasting is a way to replace one thing in our life with time devoted to prayer to God.  Jesus warns about letting our fasting become boastful.  Jesus says that when we fast (he is talking primarily about fasting from food), we should not boast about it and our appearance should be maintained during the fast.  Essentially, it should not be outwardly apparent that we are fasting from something.  The reason we must maintain this is because God desires for our fasting to be done in secret and in humility.

In each of these spiritual practices, Jesus says that what is done in secret will be rewarded.  These rewards can be seen both presently and in the future.  Presently, we have the benefit of close communion with God when we give, pray, and fast.  The benefit is that we worship God with all we can and give glory to him.  In the future, these practices will be rewarded by the Father in the kingdom to come.  There are eternal rewards stored up for us in the kingdom which God bestows upon the faithful.


Jesus switches from talking about spiritual disciplines to the provision of God.  Jesus first teaches about money and possessions.  The Bible does not explicitly condemn wealth, but Jesus is talking about something different here: stewardship.  Stewardship is living responsibly with the things that God has entrusted to us.  That includes wealthy, possessions, time, talents, gifts, and relationships.  What Jesus is saying in is that we should not store up or wastefully use what God has given us.  Instead, we should invest what we have in heavenly things – the mission of God – for him to use for his purposes.

In , Jesus says that the eye is the lamp of the body.  This passage comes right in the middle of his teaching on money and possessions.  What Christ is talking about here is covetousness.  Coveting is wanting something you do not have.  When we covet with our eyes, it affects our whole life and can cause great damage to us.  Christ warns us not to covet so that we do not sin in other ways because of our coveting.

Jesus’ final teaching on money and possessions is a warning against letting money become an idol ().  This is a major problem for our society today.  There seems to be very little that money cannot buy – in many cases, this is unfortunate (i.e., integrity, honesty, morality, etc.).  Money itself is not evil, but when it takes the place of God and trusting in God for his provision, then money can become an enslaving master.  We must be diligent to never let our money and possessions take the place of the God who provides.

One of the most difficult commands Jesus can give us is to not worry ().  I remember hearing a story about a lady who worried all the time, but when she had nothing to worry about, she would worry why there was nothing to worry about!  Jesus takes our worrying to the extreme – he tells us that we do not need to even worry about life essentials such as food, drink, or clothes!  Instead, he tells us that he cares for all of creation.  He cares for the birds and the lilies – why would he not take care of us?  God will provide all that we need – it may not be all that we want, but it will be all that we need to be sustained.  In , he even tells us that worrying is not good for us.  God knows what we need and our worrying will do nothing to extend our life.  We can trust that the all-sufficient Savior has us in his hands.

When we place our trust in Christ, he takes care of all our physical and material needs.  As disciples, we do not need to be over-occupied with money, possessions, or even basic necessities.  While we do need to take care of ourselves and be good stewards of what God gives us, we can trust that he will provide all that we need.  We are to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” ().


Please share your own insights from today’s study in the comment section below and pass this post along to your friends on Twitter and Facebook!

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“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
“But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.”
“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.  And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: ‘Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: “God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.” But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.'”
“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.”
“Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.  Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.'”
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.  Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
“Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and money.”
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?  And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
“And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
About the author
Blake Fewell
Blake Fewell is a Salvation Army Lieutenant serving as the Corps Officer in Marion, IN. He grew up in Rockford, IL attending The Salvation Army all his life. Blake is passionate about Salvation Army theology and ministry. Other passions include running, brass band music, social media, reading, writing, and preaching. He holds a Bachelor's degree in systematic theology from the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, IL and is working towards his Master's degree at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, IL.