Matthew 16:1-6, 16-21
Peace be with you!
Everyone has their motives -– [whatever “they” are]. Motives dictate how you behave and how you distinguish between right and wrong. Your parents try to instill their motives into you as a child. Other factors effect your motives, such as your opinions, ideas, and beliefs. Your Christian identity gives you willingness to strive for a better tomorrow by fighting for social justice and mercy for the less fortunate.
Jesus has just finished giving the Sermon on the Mount to the crowd. Jesus calls for social justice for the poor, sick and disabled, and the lonely by helping them with your gifts and resources. Jesus is continuing his speech for social justice in Matthew 6:1-4. The translators have dikaiosu/nhn as righteousness when justice makes more sense. With that in mind, Jesus says, “Do not do social justice work to be show off and be rewarded in the world, because God has not use for you then.” You should practice social justice, because you care about the well-being of others. Your motivation should be out of love and respect for others, not for yourself.
Jesus instructs you how to pray. Jesus warns you not to follow the example of the hypocrites (Sadducees and Pharisees) who pray loudly on street corners and synagogues. Instead Jesus invites us to find a quiet space and have a conversation with God the Father in order to have an intimate relationship with him. God the Father sees what you do in private just as much as in public; he wants to know you and you to know him on the deepest level possible. Wouldn’t you rather find a quiet space and get to know him?
Jesus also says the same thing about fasting. You should fast not to make yourself superior to others but to repent and be in prayer. Fasting is about cleansing yourself in order to be in a relationship with God the Father. When you fast in private, you are keeping your sins between you and God. No one else needs to intervene on your be half, expect you.
When you do justice, pray, and fast in private, you build an intimate relationship with God the Father. The chatter of the world does not impress God the Father – big showy actions or all talk and no action. Rather God the Father wants to know you intimately.
Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for the quiet moments to get to know you. Help us to slow down and find quiet spaces to talk with you. Lead us to care for others out of love and compassion. Thank you for being in intimate relationships with us. Amen.
Thanks to the Triune God – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Please answer the following reflective questions in the comments below. Please agree to disagree and be respectful to each other. (If you have not already done so, please also take a moment, to sign the behavior covenant by commenting on it.) You can answer as many questions as you would like.
- When and how do you find a quiet space to talk with God the Father?