Having just taught that true righteousness consists of outer and inner harmony, Jesus shares His divine insight into what motivates human behavior. Using the terms “reward” and “worry,” He addresses the issues of our desires and fears. In between these two topics, Jesus gives His followers the right perspective to have when they pray.
Jesus presents the basic warning he will repeat with various examples throughout the next several verses. He warns against displaying outward acts so others will think well of you, that you are righteous. If we do this, Jesus assures us that we will already have our reward, and our heavenly Father will not reward us any further. This will be a great loss that should be avoided.
Jesus warns against giving to the poor to win the hollow rewards of man’s approval and self-congratulation of self-righteousness. Instead He encourages His disciples to seek the greater reward from their Heavenly Father by giving without regard to being seen by men.
Jesus teaches that it is better to pray to your Father in secret and be rewarded by Him than it is to pray in a way to be seen by men and be thought holy by them.
Jesus teaches His disciples to pray to their Father who loves and understands them, not like the Gentiles who utter meaningless repetitions in order to manipulate their gods to get what they want.
Jesus teaches His disciples how to pray. They are to pray to their Father with all due honor, seeking to accomplish His will, acknowledging their dependence on Him to meet their physical and spiritual needs. They are to pray for God to show them mercy in exactly the way they show mercy to others.
Jesus warns against fasting to win the hollow rewards of man’s approval and self-righteousness. Instead He encourages His disciples to seek the greater reward from their Heavenly Father by fasting in secret.
Jesus encourages His disciples to invest their treasures wisely where their value won’t be lost. And He tells them that their hearts will follow their treasures.
Jesus gives a short parable about what the eye can see to emphasize the importance of spiritual awareness. To have a true perspective. If our eye is good, we see the reality and glory of His Kingdom and we will act according to our sight, and prosper. If our eye is bad, we fail to see His Kingdom’s reality and glory, then we will act according to our blindness, to our shame.
Jesus teaches that people cannot love both God and wealth. They must choose one or the other. We can do what God commands, which is to serve and love other people; or we can love wealth and obey what its lusts require. It is one or the other, it can’t be both.
Jesus teaches His disciples to trust in God to meet their needs and not live their lives worrying.
Jesus crystalizes what He has been teaching His disciples when He tells them to “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.” If they do this, He promises them that God will grant them all their needs.
Jesus adds another thing to the list of what not to worry about. He admonishes His disciples to not worry about the future. We cannot control the future. Our focus should be upon faithfulness in the present. That is the only time we can trust or act.