16 “And when you fast, don’t put on a sad face like the hypocrites. They distort their faces so people will know they are fasting. I assure you that they have their reward. 17 When you fast, brush your hair and wash your face. 18 Then you won’t look like you are fasting to people, but only to your Father who is present in that secret place. Your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
Jesus brings this section on the practice of faith to a close with a teaching about fasting. Fasting was a normal part of religious life in Jesus’ day. It was considered a form of worship and prayer. Just like almsgiving and prayer, the religious practice of fasting – to be authentic – needs to be steeped in communicating and relating with God. It is not for show. Authentic worship of a good God would never include a sad face!
When are you tempted to have a “sad face” as you practice your faith?
Hear my prayer Holy One...You see behind my “sad face” that...
19 “Stop collecting treasures for your own benefit on earth, where moth and rust eat them and where thieves break in and steal them. 20 Instead, collect treasures for yourselves in heaven, where moth and rust don’t eat them and where thieves don’t break in and steal them. 21 Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Jesus moves to another area of our life with God – our relationship with wealth and belongings. He describes the way we “store up” treasure when left to our own devices—belongings, accolades, titles, money, relationships. So many things to hoard! So many ways to hoard! Jesus speaks of an alternative. He suggests we hoard “treasure” in heaven. Treasure that matters and lasts – that no circumstance can steal from us.
What do you “store up” in life? What would you like to change about that?
Hear my prayer Holy One…Clean my life’s storehouse of…
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. Therefore, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how terrible that darkness will be! 24 No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be loyal to the one and have contempt for the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”
As Jesus continues to talk about the Christian way of being in the world, he makes this curious statement about “healthy” eyes. This Greek word is from the same root as the word “generous.” The healthy, open, generous eye sees the world and all we acquire as God’s gift. The healthy, open, generous eye sees the truth about our possessions and how to live in a way that serves God – not our things.
How open and generous are your eyes and heart?
Hear my prayer Holy One…Open my eyes to…
25 “Therefore, I say to you, don’t worry about your life, what you’ll eat or what you’ll drink, or about your body, what you’ll wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds in the sky. They don’t sow seed or harvest grain or gather crops into barns. Yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth much more than they are? 27 Who among you by worrying can add a single moment to your life? 28 And why do you worry about clothes? Notice how the lilies in the field grow. They don’t wear themselves out with work, and they don’t spin cloth. 29 But I say to you that even Solomon in all of his splendor wasn’t dressed like one of these. 30 If God dresses grass in the field so beautifully, even though it’s alive today and tomorrow it’s thrown into the furnace, won’t God do much more for you, you people of weak faith?
31 Therefore, don’t worry and say, ‘What are we going to eat?’ or ‘What are we going to drink?’ or ‘What are we going to wear?’ 32 Gentiles long for all these things. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 Instead, desire first and foremost God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore, stop worrying about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Ultimately, Jesus suggests that our life with God frees us from the worry of acquiring and building. Trusting our God to care for us and seeking God’s righteousness above other things simplifies our choices. It clarifies our purpose. It means tomorrow doesn’t have to keep us up at night. It means the future is a mystery we can leave in the hands of a loving God.
What do you have trouble trusting God with?
Hear my prayer Holy One…Help me to trust you as I worry about…
1 “Don’t judge, so that you won’t be judged. 2 You’ll receive the same judgment you give. Whatever you deal out will be dealt out to you. 3 Why do you see the splinter that’s in your brother’s or sister’s eye, but don’t notice the log in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother or sister, ‘Let me take the splinter out of your eye,’ when there’s a log in your eye? 5 You deceive yourself! First take the log out of your eye, and then you’ll see clearly to take the splinter out of your brother’s or sister’s eye.”
Do not judge. Is Jesus suggesting that Christians have no moral discernment? That we can’t look at our world or the people around us and recognize brokenness and sin? Absolutely not! Instead Jesus suggests that we begin our moral discernment with deep self-reflection and a clear view of our own brokenness and sin. Only then are we useful as God’s instruments gently helping others with what we know in ourselves.
What “logs” do you tend to see first in those around you?
Hear my prayer Holy One... What might I be missing as I look at..