By Hank Gross
Last week I was inspired by Rebecca's sermon theme for
the first part
of Matthew 6, of "Keeping Secrets", and given that two weeks ago we
only covered Matthew 5:33-47 in a more general way, I came up with
this idea for tying the Matthew 5 verses together with last week's
verses of Matthew 6:1-6,14-21…
Keeping Secret Vows: Mt.5:33-37 vs. Mt.6:1-6, 16-18
In Matthew 5:33-37, Jesus warns His hearers against
presumptively making vows, either to God or to others, by any aspect
of God's creation or Kingdom. Not only does it set a poor example to
make a public commitment before God (or a private commitment to God
that is made known to some), which one then does not follow through
with, but also such often dramatic vows do little more than just draw
undue attention to one's self, thereby actually diminishing the focus
upon God and so teaching an effectual idolatry of the self.
Conversely, in Matthew 6:1-6 and 6:16-18, Jesus exhorts a form
secret devotional communication with, and offering to, God, which, by
replacing public vows, has the effect of removing the problem of the
poor example of failed commitments of this type, diminishing the
drawing of undue attention to one's self, and fostering more intimate
conversation between oneself and God.
Keeping Secret Accounts: Mt.5:38-42 vs. Mt.6:14-15
In Matthew 5:38-42, Jesus encourages
setting an example of
relinquishment of rights, as befits a spirit of giving, love and
forgiveness. However, while the performer of such relinquishment can
experience an internal attitude which parallels such actions, at other
times the performer can remain internally, secretly resentful,
unforgiving or desirous of compensation, even while his or her
external actions appear otherwise.
This is what then makes Matthew
6:14-15 so important, for it
effectually addresses the problem of internal unforgiveness, and by
implication, all similar ungenerous and unloving attitudes, by Jesus'
creating linkage between our inner attitudes and God's dealings with
us. In essence, Jesus is calling us to clear any secret accounts we
might have in our hearts towards others, thereby also keeping our
relationship clearer with God.
Keeping Secret Aims: Mt.5:43-47 vs. Mt.6:19-21
In Matthew 5:43-47, Jesus in effect advises against a priority
sees little or no advantage to us in helping those whom we don't feel
have our best interests in mind, as being contrary to the example we
should model. But even if one does appear to act lovingly towards
"enemies", this often doesn't actually reflect what is secretly one's
heart attitude about dealing with such persons.
Thus, we also
have Jesus' words in Matthew 6:19-21, whereby we are
implicitly challenged to not even have as a priority the seeking of
that which will gain us advantage in the self-oriented ways of the
world, but rather to seek after the priorities of "heaven", i.e., the
priorities of love, of non-judgmentalism, and of Jesus' own example,
thus creating greater congruence between our public and "secret" selves.