Matthew 6:1-18 His Way
For our happiness and salvation, Our Heavenly Father has given us commandments and principles related to our behavior, but He also wants us to do the right things in the right ways, and for the right reasons. In other words, our motives matter. The prophet Mormon taught, “For behold, God hath said a man being evil cannot do that which is good; for if he offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing. For behold, it is not counted unto him for righteousness [for] he doeth it grudgingly” (Moroni 7:6-8).
God is interested in our thoughts, our desires, and our hearts, and in the end, it is our character and Christlike attributes that we are to seek to develop, with the Lord’s gracious help. With this in mind, study Matthew 6 as follows:
- “To do alms” refers to any kind of charitable offering or service.
- What things did Jesus say we should not do, in relation to alms? (verses 1-2).
- What did He say we should do when giving or serving? (verses 2-3).
- What reasons did Jesus give for these teachings? (verses 1, 4).
- In what ways might people “sound a trumpet” (verse 2) in order to call attention to their alms-giving?
- Jesus said, “They [the hypocrites] have their reward” (verse 2). What do you think this means?
- Read again Matthew 5:16. What do you think it means to follow Matthew 5:16, while at the same time obeying Matthew 6:1?
Prayer—verses 5-15 (see also Luke 11:2-4)
- Again, Jesus uses the word hypocrites (see also verses 2, 16; 7:5; note also that the word heathen in verse 7 is changed in the JST to hypocrites). The word means “pretenders,” or someone who says or does something to put on a display, but whose heart is wrong and whose intent is only self-serving. Hypocrisy is a failure to conform to one’s claimed beliefs or standards.
- Surely, we all fall short in our obedience to the commandments, but that doesn’t make us all hypocrites—we are imperfect, yet striving, disciples who do not profess perfection and should not display arrogance.
- What did Jesus say we should not do, in relation to prayer? (verses 5, 7).
- This does not forbid repeating things in our prayers, but does teach against self-important, mindless replays that are not based on true feelings of the heart.
- What did the Savior say we should do? (verses 6-13).
- How would you explain that “the Lord’s Prayer” (verses 9-13) is not actually a “set” prayer that we are to repeat over and over?
- Verses 14-15 are a significant side-note to Jesus’s teachings about prayer. How would you re-state or explain these verses in your own words?
- What did Jesus teach that we should not do, when fasting? (verse 16).
- What did He say we should do? (verses 17-18).
- Do you have a testimony of the law of the fast, gained through experience?
Matthew 6:19-34 Mind the Things of God
These verses treat the principle of putting God and His laws above all else. It is noteworthy that the chapter heading for 3 Nephi 13 (the Book of Mormon equivalent of Matthew 6) states, “The Twelve in their ministry are commanded to take no thought for temporal things.” This is reflected in 3 Nephi 13:25, which tells us that Jesus turned to speak the subsequent verses to the apostles (additionally, the Joseph Smith Translation appears to show that verses 25-34 were directed specifically to the Apostles in their ministerial roles).
Yet, it may still be worth considering that some of these instructions can pertain to those not called to full-time, life-time, apostolic service (indeed, many of us have covenanted to live the law of consecration).
Find what Jesus taught His followers in relation to:
- Materialism (Matthew 6:19-21). What should your “treasures” be?
- Choosing God first (verse 24; the LDS Bible Dictionary defines “mammon” as “riches”).
- Ask yourself, “How may I apply verses 25-32 in my life?”
- Read verse 33 and describe the life and behavior of one who “seeks first” the kingdom of God. What has the Lord “added” to your life?
Matthew 7:1-23 “It Shall Be Given You”
In this chapter the Lord offers several cautions and admonishments related to our daily interactions with others and with God:
- We begin with an important JST change for Matthew 7:1, wherein the Prophet rendered this verse: “… Judge not unrighteously, that ye be not judged; but judge righteous judgment.” This makes it clear that we are indeed called upon to make judgments in life, but we are to make wise, correct, righteous judgments.
- What ominous warning did Jesus give in verse 2, in regard to appropriate judgment?
- What example did He give in verses 3-5?
- What principles of prayer can you derive from verses 7-11?
- Verse 12 is another version of the “Golden Rule” (as cited previously in Luke 6:31).
- In verses 13-14 the word strait means “narrow; tight; difficult.” This is why we need the Lord’s help.
- In verses 15-20 the Lord cautions us regarding false prophets, which can lead any Bible reader to conclude that there must also be true prophets.
- Based on the criteria Jesus gives in verse 16, what “fruits” do you see in the ministries of our latter-day prophets?
- Verses 21-23 merit careful reading and re-reading. (Note that the JST changes “I never knew you” in verse 23 to “ye never knew me;” read also John 17:3.)
- See also Luke 6:46, wherein the Lord said, “Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” Think of questions you can ask yourself, as a self-check..
Matthew 7:24-29 He Concludes the Sermon
- As Jesus ends His teachings, He encourage us to “hear” and “do” His sayings, using a metaphor that includes a house, rock, sand, rain, floods, and winds.
- Read verses 24-27. What does it mean to you to build your house on a rock?
- Remember, according to numerous scripture references, “Rock” is one of the names/titles for Jesus Christ.
- Think of another metaphor, using an object or action that can be applied to obeying the Savior’s teachings. You can begin by saying, “Whosoever hears and does these sayings, I will liken them unto …”
- What was the reaction of the people to Jesus’s teachings? (verse 28). Note also Matthew’s comment in verse 29.
- What are your own reactions, thoughts, or feelings after studying the Sermon on the Mount?