Jesus goes on in verses 5
through 14 to outline another tzedakah:
"When you pray, don't be like the hypocrites,
who love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners,
so that people can see them. Yes! I tell you, they have their reward
already! But you, when you pray, go into your room, close the door, and
pray to your Father in secret. Your Father, who sees what is done in
secret, will reward you. And when you pray, don't babble on and on like
the pagans, who think God will hear them better if they talk a lot.
Don't be like them, because your Father knows what you need before you
ask him. You, therefore, pray like this:
Our Father in heaven!
May your Name be
May your Kingdom come,
Your will be done on earth as in
Give us the food we need today.
Forgive us what we have
As we too have forgiven those who have wronged us.
do not lead us into hard testing,
But keep us safe from the Evil One.
For the kingship, power and glory are yours forever. Ahmain.
For if you forgive others their offences,
your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive
others their offences, your heavenly Father will not forgive yours."
Jesus is still teaching on tzedakah, and again contrasts the
behavior of the hypocrite with that of His disciples. Rather than
seeking praise for the pious act of public prayer, the disciple is to
pray quietly and privately. But here He also includes the contrast of
the behavior of pagans, or those who think they can reach God by the
mere repetition of syllables. Many people even now repeat words over and
over as if somehow they will be able to make their god do something
because of the incessant repetition of syllables. Some use the name
"Jesus" so many times it is reminiscent of pagan ecstasy rituals.
Consider this: A pagan could be considered a person without God. A
disciple or child of God is someone who has or knows (intimately) His
Father. A hypocrite would therefore be a person who thinks and talks
like he or she has God but acts as if he or she is a pagan (does not
have or know God intimately).
Jesus says that God already knows
what we need, and the implication is that He will give it to His
children. Therefore the type of praying we are to do is private and
should consist mainly of recognition, an earnest desire for the will of
God to be done everywhere, thanksgiving, blessing and forgiveness
(requested on the basis of forgiveness of others).
balance of the sample prayer that Jesus gives. The first line of a pair
makes a statement; the second line enhances and expands on the meaning
of the first line.
Being forgiven in the same manner in which we
forgive goes along with other parts of scripture such as the "Ungrateful
Servant" (who was forgiven a large debt but did not forgive a smaller
debt) and such statements as those from Jesus in Mat. 7:1
"...the measure with which you measure out
will be used to measure to you."
In verses 19 through 24, Jesus continues the theme of tzedakah
but pivots to focus on types of rewards for tzedakah and where
to store them:
"Do not store up for yourselves wealth here
on earth, where moths and rust destroy, and burglars break in and steal.
Instead, store up for yourselves wealth in heaven, where neither moth
nor rust destroys, and burglars do not break in or steal. For where your
wealth is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the
body. So if you have a 'good eye' (that is, if you are generous) your
whole body will be full of light; but if you have an 'evil eye' (that
is, if you are stingy) your whole body will be full of darkness. If,
then, the light in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! No one
can be slave to two masters; for he will either hate the first and love
the second, or scorn the second and be loyal to the first. You can't be
a slave to both God and money."
Picking up the thread of heavenly rewards, Jesus contrasts physical
rewards with those stored in heaven that are earned by performing acts
of righteousness in the way He is teaching. The heavenly bank account
has treasure that cannot be destroyed, but the rewards gained here stay
here and are destroyed in spite of efforts to keep them intact.
think Jesus is pointing out that the heart will be inclined to dwell
where the wealth is kept. If your treasure is here, that is where your
heart will be also. If your treasure is in heaven, then your heart will
be oriented in that direction. The disciple or child of God will be
motivated to build and protect that heavenly treasure, constantly
thinking of ways to increase the gain. If we continue to perform acts of
righteousness in the manner that Jesus describes then God will increase
our heavenly rewards. It is up to Him to decide if, how much, and when.
We do not need to be concerned with amounts, we just keep trying to do
what He wants us to do to the best of our ability, energized and helped
out by the Spirit where needed. We are motivated by love of the Father
and others, and that is it's own reward.
The eye is to the body
as a lamp is to a room. The eye illuminates the way for the body so we
don't trip and fall. It also illuminates the needs of those around us.
If we meet those needs in a generous fashion we can exchange earthly
treasure that will be destroyed for heavenly coin that cannot be
destroyed. But if we try to hold on to physical treasure and ignore the
needs of those around us, then we are full of darkness, and there is not
much that can be done to help the situation. For if a person with
eyesight refuses to see, more eyesight (light) will not help him or her
and the light is the same as darkness.
We cannot have a devotion
to gaining earthly rewards and a devotion to God at the same time.
Having two masters is the same as being double-minded or lukewarm (a
mixture of two opposing principles), a condition that God does not
approve of. We must serve Him with all our heart, mind, and strength,
giving Him a whole-hearted effort in everything we do.