Matthew 6:1, 5 – 15

Matthew 6:1, 5 – 15

Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

Verse one is usually “attached” to the short comments on giving to the needy, mainly because we like to compartmentalize our Scriptures, but I suspect that it’s really a segue into the next several teachings.  “Your righteousness” seems to be referring to a list of things we call piety and mercy, often called spiritual disciplines or means of grace.

I have always struggled with praying in front of people, mostly because I’m an introvert, but the way Jesus talks about hiding in a closet to pray gave me solace in my reticence to pray “out loud.”

As we say the Lord’s Prayer, we often do it without much thought, causing some to frown on anything memorized or rote, but look closely at Jesus’ words today. What is he telling us to pray for?

And, what about verse 15? Forgiveness sure appears to be conditional. I am sure that when we don’t forgive others and carry anger and bitterness around in our hearts, we find it almost impossible to accept God’s grace in our lives.

In Luke’s Gospel, the Lord’s Prayer is not tied to the Sermon on the Mount (or Plain) and is believed to have been taught to the disciple’s inside a cave. He probably taught the prayer (and many other teachings) on more than one occasion.

Acts of Piety are meant to bring us into God’s space, when we are more concerned about impressing other people, we are unable to enter God’s space. I don’t think this means we should never talk to people about our prayer life, we should have a few people with whom we can openly discuss our struggles and triumphs in our spiritual journey, that’s how we encourage one another and receive encouragement.

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