Today’s Reading: Matthew 6
In the first part of chapter 6, Jesus spoke about three personal disciplines that are part of every Christian’s life: giving, praying, and fasting.
Note that I said, these three disciplines are part of every Christian’s life. If you are a Christian, then they are to be part of your life as well.
How do we know they should be part of our lives? Because as Jesus spoke about them, He used an important word before each of them. Jesus started off each of the three with the word when, which assumes we are already practicing them.
When you give . . .
When you pray . . .
When you fast . . .
As He discussed these disciplines, He wanted to guide us in the proper way to practice them. In each instance, Jesus used a second word that is an essential part: secret (see verses 4, 6 and 18). We are to do these things in secret. In other words, we aren’t supposed to flaunt the fact that we practice them. Why? Because there’s only to be one member of our audience who sees what we do: God.
We do these things in secret—and the aftereffects of them go public. That’s the power of these disciplines, He explained. If we pursue them without anybody’s knowledge, we will receive a reward and everyone will benefit—they will always go public, or “in the open,” in their effect.
Let me explain by using prayer as an example.
Jesus said, “But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:6).
When we dissect this sentence, we see the when (“when you pray”), the secret (“go into your inner room”), and in the open (your Father . . . will reward you).
But I want you to see something else. Go back to the Scripture and count the number of times Jesus used the words you or yours. This is the only verse in the whole Bible that has the singular personal pronoun in it seven times: “But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”
Why is this important to note? Because Jesus was saying that you have a responsibility. You.
But—and here’s the beautiful part of it—this responsibility is never a waste of time. Because your Father will reward you. You.
The word reward means to clock in and get a paycheck. Jesus was saying that every time you pray, you clock in—you expect a paycheck. God pays His workers well. You will come out with way more than you put in.
When Mother Teresa was alive, many who visited her and her Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta were surprised that every lunchtime they left their life-sustaining work in dispensaries and in the home for the dying.
“Why do you go back so soon and not stay longer? Where do you go?”
Mother Teresa responded, “We go to pray. We have learned that to work without prayer is to achieve only what is humanly possible and our desire is to be involved in divine possibilities.”
We get to be involved in divine possibilities. When we give, when we pray, when we fast.
Let’s show up today to our responsibilities. The pay-off is too good not to.