Posted on Fri, Mar 18, 2011
March 18, 2011 Roberta Blackmer
9th Day of Lent Matthew 6:1-6
If you’re thinking of telling a friend about a gift you’ve made to charity or are gathering with a group for public prayer, you might want to review what Jesus says about these matters as recorded in Matthew 6:
The background: Jesus has left his crowd of followers and gone up a mountain where his disciples have joined him. He has explained that to give glory to their Father in heaven and enter the kingdom of heaven, they must change their thinking on some of the customs and beliefs of the day.
For example, when giving charitable gifts (alms were obligatory for Jews at that time), they should not make a great public display as the hypocrites do. Jesus is specific on the better way to give alms: anonymously and in secret. So secret, in fact, that you do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.
Praying, Jesus says, should also be done out of sight: Go to your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret.
Why does it matter public or in secret? It matters because what is given in return matters. Jesus explains that those who make public displays receive their reward in being seen by others, and they get no further reward. Those who pray and are charitable in secret, however, will receive their reward from their Father in heaven.
Prayer for today: The Lord’s Prayer, Matthew 6:9
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