“…I tell you the truth…” Matthew 6:2,5, & 16
ITYTT is found three times in Matthew 6: in verses 2,5,&16. Each time, the phrase is prefaced by the words, “…do not be like the hypocrites…”, and followed by the phrase: “they have their reward in full”. In each case, Jesus chided the Pharisees for their hypocrisy through self-aggrandizement when fulfilling priestly duties: of their pride by publicly announcing when they assisted the poor; of praying in public to elevate their own status in the eyes of their congregation; and of their theatrics while fasting.
Jesus pointed out their flagrant exhibition of feigned philanthropy before others when assisting the poor. This practice was similar to the worldly way ‘benefit’ dances and dinners are done today: recognizing VIP’s who tout their ‘gifts’ before a watching world in the society sections of newspapers, magazines, and even on TV (vv. 2-4)
The Master-Teacher then exposed the pharisees’ ostentatious speech during public prayer. They called attention to themselves through self-righteous flowery repetitions that ran on, ‘ad nauseum’ (vv. 5-8).
Jesus also exposed the hypocrisy of the Pharisees during times of fasting. The priests would pretend personal suffering, sadness, and hardship. Jesus condemned the falsehood in their religious practice, as it was replicated in the lives of those they led into religiosity (vv. 16-18)
Jesus broke through the guise of pride and pretense to bring people back to truth and personal piety. In so doing, each person has the ability to relate to another’s circumstances more realistically and empathize with another’s unique condition, thus nourishing a more sympathetic response toward others. The ear of God is turned toward the humble, as God resists the proud. (Proverbs 29:23; James 4:6; I Peter 5:5)
God sympathized with our human condition, bringing heaven to earth through the life of Jesus Christ (read Philippians 2:5-8). The gospels provide evidence that Jesus did not seek to call attention to Himself. He even instructed those He healed to tell no one, for His time had not yet come (see John 2:4; 7:6, 30). In the same way, Jesus instructed those on the mountain to perform ministry in private: when giving, to not let the left hand know what the right hand is doing (v.3); when praying, to pray privately in a ‘prayer closet’, as well as refraining from the use of many words (vv. 6-8); and when fasting, to do so in a way which is seen only by God and not to be noticed by others (vv. 16-18).
When contrasting the phrases, “they have their reward in full” (vv. 2,5,&16) with “my time has not yet come” (John 2:4; 7:6), it is easy to see the distinction between the posture of pride by the Pharisees and that of humility modeled by the Savior. In using ITYTT, Jesus taught His listeners to seek eternal rewards, where moth and rust do not destroy (see Matthew 6:19-21). By exposing the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, Jesus also revealed the eternal truth that earth’s treasures, rewards, and accolades do not follow us to heaven.
Jesus taught that one’s personal piety should be lived out in a way that does not call attention to oneself. Additionally, Jesus offered a model for others to use in praying. In this model, we find one is able to approach God as a loving Father, offering honor and reverence to His name; expressing the hope of heaven’s impact upon earth; requesting continued sustenance for living; confessing the propensity to sin, while asking for forgiveness of sin, and that it be dispensed in the same measure as one forgives those who are offensive; and requesting deliverance from the influence of evil (vv. 9-13).
Living in such a way as to be seen by the Father in no way removes our mandate to make disciples... Jesus taught both. Many erroneously think our lives, lived out quietly will meet the requirements of The Great Commission. Jesus’ life teaches us otherwise. While we are to be about making disciples – telling others of salvation through Jesus Christ, we are to work out our salvation in a way that is not “showy”. We are to be genuine, personal and transparent with each other and the world. In this way, we are looking to heaven’s eternal reward and joy!
Have a blessed day…