Matthew 6



Matthew 6 captures Jesus' teachings on righteous living, including sincere giving to the needy, authentic prayer, and humble fasting. The overarching theme is the importance of a genuine and intimate relationship with God, prioritizing eternal values over worldly concerns, and trusting in God's provision without succumbing to anxiety.


  1. Giving to the Needy (Matthew 6:1-4): Jesus begins by addressing the importance of giving to the needy. He warns against practicing righteousness to receive recognition from others; emphasizing the need for sincerity and humility in acts of charity.
  2. Prayer (Matthew 6:5-15): Jesus teaches about prayer, cautioning against hypocritical and showy prayers performed to impress others. Instead, he encourages private, sincere prayer. He provides the disciples with the Lord's Prayer as a model for approaching God, highlighting themes of reverence, submission, and seeking forgiveness.

  3. Fasting (Matthew 6:16-18): Similar to prayer, Jesus advises against ostentatious fasting to gain approval from people. True fasting should be a personal, private practice, done for spiritual purposes rather than for public recognition.
  4. Treasures in Heaven (Matthew 6:19-24): Jesus teaches about the importance of prioritizing heavenly treasures over earthly ones. He encourages disciples to focus on eternal values and God's kingdom, warning against the dangers of serving both God and wealth.
  5. Do Not Worry (Matthew 6:25-34): Jesus addresses the human tendency to worry about material needs. He emphasizes God's care for His creation, urging people to seek God's kingdom first, with the assurance that God will provide for their needs.


6.1-4 Give Without Recognition


“Be careful that you don’t do your charitable giving before men, to be seen by them, or else you have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Therefore, when you do merciful deeds, don’t sound a trumpet before yourself, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may get glory from men. Most certainly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you do merciful deeds, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand does, so that your merciful deeds may be in secret, then your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly."


This passage is part of the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus is teaching his disciples about various aspects of righteous living. In these verses, Jesus emphasizes the importance of sincerity and humility in acts of righteousness, such as giving to the needy. The message is to avoid doing good deeds for the sake of public recognition or praise but rather to act with a genuine desire to help others, without seeking acknowledgment from people. The focus is on a sincere relationship with God, and the idea is that true righteousness comes from the heart, not from external displays for public approval.


6.5-8 Praying Intentionally


“When you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites, for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Most certainly, I tell you, they have received their reward. But you, when you pray, enter into your inner room, and having shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.  In praying, don’t use vain repetitions as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their much speaking.  Therefore don’t be like them, for your Father knows what things you need before you ask him."


In these verses, Jesus is teaching about the attitude and approach to prayer. He warns against praying in a way that seeks attention and recognition from others (hypocritical prayers). Instead, he encourages a more private and sincere form of prayer. Going into one's room, closing the door, and praying to the unseen Father emphasizes the personal and intimate nature of the relationship with God.


Furthermore, Jesus advises against empty and repetitive words, contrasting with the practice of some pagans. The emphasis is on the authenticity and simplicity of communication with God. The idea is that God already knows what is in the heart, and sincere, heartfelt prayers are more meaningful than elaborate or insincere expressions.


6.9-15 Jesus' Model For Prayer


"Pray like this:

“ ‘Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy.

Let your Kingdom come.

Let your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our debts,

as we also forgive our debtors.

Bring us not into temptation,

but deliver us from the evil one.

For yours is the Kingdom, the power, and the glory forever. Amen.’"


In these verses, Jesus provides a model prayer for his disciples. It begins by addressing God as "Our Father in heaven," acknowledging the holiness of God's name and expressing the desire for His kingdom to come and His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.


The prayer includes requests for daily sustenance ("Give us today our daily bread"), forgiveness of sins ("Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors"), and protection from temptation and evil ("Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one").


The concluding verse (verse 14) emphasizes the importance of forgiveness. Jesus underscores the connection between our forgiveness of others and God's forgiveness of us. The principle is that if we forgive those who wrong us, God will also forgive us.


Overall, the Lord's Prayer serves as a guide for believers on how to approach God in prayer, covering key aspects of acknowledging God's sovereignty, seeking daily provision, seeking forgiveness, and asking for divine protection and guidance.


6.16-18 Fasting Intentionally


“Moreover when you fast, don’t be like the hypocrites, with sad faces. For they disfigure their faces that they may be seen by men to be fasting. Most certainly I tell you, they have received their reward.  But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you are not seen by men to be fasting, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you."


In this passage, Jesus guides the proper attitude and approach to fasting. He begins by warning against the hypocritical practice of some who make a public display of their fasting, seeking attention and recognition from others. These individuals intentionally appear somber and disfigure their faces to draw attention to their acts of self-denial.


Instead, Jesus encourages a more discreet and humble approach to fasting. He advises those who fast to maintain their normal appearance, putting oil on their heads and washing their faces, so as not to make it obvious to others that they are fasting. The emphasis is on sincerity and doing such acts of devotion for the audience of God rather than for the approval of people.


The concluding statement highlights the idea that God, who sees what is done in secret, will reward those who engage in genuine and humble acts of devotion, such as fasting. This aligns with the broader theme in the Sermon on the Mount of prioritizing sincerity and authenticity in one's relationship with God over seeking external recognition.


6.19-21 Earthly Versus Heavenly Thinking


“Don’t lay up treasures for yourselves on the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consume, and where thieves don’t break through and steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."


These verses serve as a good reminder to be eternally focused instead of on earthly possessions. Luke 16:8-13 expands on this idea that Christ is teaching to his disciples:


"“His lord commended the dishonest manager because he had done wisely, for the children of this world are, in their own generation, wiser than the children of the light. I tell you, make for yourselves friends by means of unrighteous mammon [that is, money], so that when you fail, they may receive you into the eternal tents [Heaven]. He who is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much. He who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If therefore you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon [that is, money], who will commit to your trust the true riches? If you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?  No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will hold to one and despise the other. You aren’t able to serve God and Mammon [that is, money].”


Christ is stating in no uncertain terms, that everything we have in this life should be used for advancing His kingdom.


6.22-24 The Eyes Never Satisfy


“The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is evil, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You can’t serve both God and Mammon."


While Christ is specifically referring to the worship of money, His message can apply to anything that serves as an idol in our lives. The eye is never satisfied in its insatiable lust for things we believe that we are lacking in. At the crux of this issue with such idolatries stems a deep-seated distrust in God's provision for our lives. There are so many applications that can pertain to His message here that it would be best to take a moment and meditate on what idols are choking that light of the Gospel in reaching the darkest part of our hearts.


6.25-32 Do Not Be Anxious About Your Life


"Therefore I tell you, don’t be anxious for your life: what you will eat, or what you will drink; nor yet for your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food, and the body more than clothing? See the birds of the sky, that they don’t sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns. Your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you of much more value than they? “Which of you by being anxious, can add one moment to his lifespan? Why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They don’t toil, neither do they spin,  yet I tell you that even Solomon in all his glory was not dressed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today exists and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, won’t he much more clothe you, you of little faith? “Therefore don’t be anxious, saying, ‘What will we eat?’, ‘What will we drink?’ or, ‘With what will we be clothed?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things."


When we worry about material things in this earthly life, we lose sight of being eternally focused, or advancing God's Kingdom. Christ reasons that God already knows what we need. He gives additional examples of God's faithfulness to lesser forms of life thereby questioning how much more God will be faithful to people made in His image. These verses have caused some people to question God's faithfulness given that many people are dying from starvation, disease, or succumbing to other dire situations. However, John Piper aptly posits that these verses are often misinterpreted to mean God will prevent such events from occurring for our benefit. The issue with this misinterpretation is that Christ is not trying to appeal to our earthly needs. Instead, He is saying that we should be focused on advancing the kingdom of God amid our anxieties, knowing that He will provide all that we need to carry out His Will. As Pastor Piper1 points out in his article, "Does God Promise to Feed and Clothe Christians?":


"Everything will be given to us that we need in order to do God’s will in order to glorify God most fully, even if it means death. Jesus isn’t promising all the food, all the clothing, all the housing, all the healthcare, all the protection that we need to be comfortable or even to stay alive. He says we are going to die in his service. He is promising that we will have every single one of those things in exactly the right measure for doing his will and glorifying his name, even if it means perishing from exposure or starvation in the path of obedience."


6.33-34 Seek The Kingdom Of God And His Righteousness


"But seek first God’s Kingdom and his righteousness; and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore don’t be anxious for tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Each day’s own evil is sufficient."


In these verses, Jesus is encouraging his followers to prioritize their relationship with God and His kingdom. The key message is to seek God's kingdom and righteousness above all else. The concept of seeking God's kingdom first implies putting God's will and purposes at the forefront of one's life. This involves seeking righteousness, living by God's principles, and acknowledging God's sovereignty over all aspects of life.


The following verse (34) advises against worrying about the future. Jesus suggests that each day has its own challenges and concerns, and worrying about tomorrow's troubles is unnecessary. The emphasis is on living in the present moment and trusting God for daily provision and guidance.