It took a year to read the Bible, then almost 9 months to read the Apocrypha. Now, I'm going to try to offer reflections on the Narrative Lectionary. But, I won't be posting daily--at least, for a while.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Treasures, a Reflection on Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

Jesus did say, "Beware of practicing your piety before others," but he didn't end it there. He has a because clause: Don't do it just so they will notice. That is, he is not advocating secrecy but rather warning them against hypocrisy.
Give to charity because someone needs help not to show off.  Remember that your prayers are directed to God, not to impress somebody. Fast in secret rather than in public.
Jesus assumes that they will give liberally and ungrudgingly (see Deuteronomy 15:10-11), that they will pray often (perhaps three times a day, see Daniel 6:10, and that they would fast (see Joel 1:14;  also see Isaiah 58 to see that fasting was not restricted to food).

What Jesus is cautioning them about is confusion of goals. You're doing the things that you ought to be doing, and remember why you are doing them. You will be rewarded, but not necessarily in an immediate, public way.

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