In Matthew 7:6, many people understand Jesus to be saying something like: you don’t need to share the gospel with hostile, unworthy people. However, I agree with the minority who understand Jesus to be saying: don’t be the kind of fool who throws away what is beautiful and precious.
The log in your own eye versus the speck in your neighbor’s eye is a powerful image of willfully living a lie. Jesus warns that if you condemn other people for their sins, you are ignoring a fundamental truth about yourself in a way that is almost impossible to imagine.
At first reading, Matthew 6:25-34 seems simple and straightforward: Don’t be anxious. God knows what you need and He will take care of you. The tricky part of this passage is figuring out exactly what we should not do and what we can expect God to do.
Why is the kingdom of heaven so incredibly valuable? In this passage, Jesus gives one of many important reasons: We cannot keep the treasures of this earth, and we cannot lose the treasures in heaven.
This last request is not to avoid the choice posed by temptation. This request is to be preserved through the choice. Father, do not let me fall into temptation to my doom.
It’s not surprising that we find forgiveness in the Lord’s prayer. For believers neither sin nor mercy are hypothetical concepts. We should be staggered by the power and beauty of mercy as proclaimed to us on the cross because we have been forgiven so great a debt.
In Matthew 6:11 we don’t know with certainty what the word translated “daily” means. This leads to much debate and two good interpretations: one literal and one metaphorical. Both understandings have merit. Both use good methodology. Both teach something that is taught elsewhere in Scripture, and in that sense, both of them are true. In this life, we may never be certain which one Jesus meant, but we can affirm the truths both of them teach.
In giving us the Lord’s prayer, Jesus is not giving us a ritual to perform or a spiritual discipline to ensure our prayers are answered. Jesus is challenging us to consider what is our hearts are set on.
Being religious is no guarantee that you are genuinely following God. Whatever you define as obedience to God (being in full-time ministry, church attendance, praying, fasting, giving to the poor, adopting social justice causes), Jesus says: stop and ask yourself who are you doing it for?
Jesus commands us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. In one sense, loving your neighbor is a simple, practical guide to good conduct. But it is also a truth we have to embrace and choose to follow. In that sense, it is a test of faith.