Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

                “Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven. So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

                “And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

                And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

                “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

 

From Rev. David Chafin, Deputy Regional Minister

Almsgiving (charitable giving), prayer, and fasting are the three “classic” disciplines of Lent, and indeed, of the Christian way of living. Each of these can pose a challenge for many of us. But the greatest challenge, it seems, lies in the summary statement of Jesus in this clipping from his “Sermon on the Mount:” how the placement of what we treasure can easily tell the tale of the condition of our hearts.

I’ve often bristled at those who excuse what may be extraordinarily bad behavior or poor choices with “but their hearts are in the right place” (or in my slightly southern upbringing “…bless their heart”). Very often the reality of those mis-steps in life really do expose just how much our hearts can find themselves in quite the wrong places.

Yet the reminder is there for us from the Savior – that our investment of energies, our placement of trust, our “deposits” of charity, prayer, fasting – have a self-revealing quality. We are to place our ultimate trust only in “heaven,” that is, in God alone. There, our confidence finds fulfillment and we can rest in the assurance that our hearts really are in the right place. Any other use of even these long-honored acts of devotion are ultimately only fooling ourselves.

 

By your grace, O God,

help us to place our trust in you alone,

and learn to rest in your sure provision.

Advertisements