Beginning with the first verse of Matthew 6, Jesus discusses five areas of important Christian development.
- Give to the needy. This is a way to ‘practice righteousness’ in verses 1-4.
- Pray, which allows us to communicate with our heavenly father and develop the proper attitude of submission to God’s will. The template for simple, effective and humble prayer is outlined in verses 5-15.
- Fast, verses 16-18. Exercising willful control over our appetite literally gives the Christian strength to control fleshly appetites in all areas.
- Store up treasures in heaven is covered in verses 19-24. Jesus briefly instructs the Christian to focus on using our natural and spiritual senses to serve God. Our behaviors will add treasure useful for eternity. “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” The word for ‘healthy’ in the Greek, is generous and the word for ‘unhealthy’ is stingy. Jesus is stating very clearly that a Christian follower is on the right track if he or she is generous in using all things in the service of God’s will. This includes using our time, talents, home, cars, resources, and money to serve God.
- Do not worry, discussed by our Lord in verses 25-34. This verse is part of the question. This means when we focus on sacrificing our natural will to do God’s will, our heavenly Father will guide and direct our lives. God will provide for our needs. Matthew 6:8, “your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
God never promised to give Christians prosperity. Jesus, Himself, wasn’t prosperous. He said, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head,” Luke 9:58 (NIV). Christians are to follow in their Master’s footsteps.