SOTM: Matthew 6:19-21 (Treasures in heaven)

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(Mat 6:19-21 ESV) “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal,  20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

I’ve often wondered what that really means? Will there be degrees of reward? And what would that mean?

I mean, is it a bigger room? Higher quality gold on the street? Sitting closer to God at the great banquet table? Better cuts of meat?

Well, I don’t know. But I think the scriptures give us a few hints that we should ponder a bit. Continue reading

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The Lord’s Prayer: Part 3

So what would happen if adults acted out Jesus’ Parable of the Unmerciful Servant as told by children?

Thanks to reader Orion.

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Zach Winters: “These Are the Days”

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SOTM: Matthew 6:9-13 (The Lord’s Prayer, Part 2)

SOTM

(Mat 6:12 ESV)  12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

Another tough one. “Debts” is a Jewish euphemism for sins. And Jesus explicitly makes our forgiveness conditional on our forgiving others. In fact, in case we’re too slow to get his point, he explains it where we can’t misunderstand it —

(Mat 6:14-15 ESV) 14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you,  15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. 

“Trespasses” is, again, a euphemism for sins. To Jesus’s listeners, “as we have forgiven our debtors” would sound very much like the command to lend to the poor and to freely forgive the debt. The generosity that is commanded of the Jews toward the poor is extended by Jesus to those in need of our forgiveness. (The “poor in spirit”?)

It’s easy to think of several other teachings by Jesus making the same point. Why speak in such strident, demanding terms? Well, he was speaking to an honor/shame culture in which easy forgiveness was seen as weak, even shameful. Far better to hold a grudge for generations! Continue reading

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Zach Winters: “Snow”

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SOTM: Matthew 6:9-13 (The Lord’s Prayer, Part 1)

You may safely skip to 0:55 —

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For some reason, we in the Churches of Christ are reluctant to recite the Lord’s Prayer in church. Really. I mean, just as soon as I say the words, the absurdity of it becomes plain. And so I need to disabuse us of some very serious errors in our understanding of this passage. Continue reading

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Tony Halchak: “Sense and Sensation”

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SOTM: Matthew 6:7-8 (On Short Prayers and Why Bother to Pray)

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(Mat 6:7-8 ESV)  “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.  8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

This has always been one of my favorite verses, because Jesus insists on short prayers. Of course. He has to listen to them all, and I’m sure he developed a taste for brevity a very long time ago. Continue reading

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Little Chief: “Brothers”

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SOTM: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18 (Hypocrisy)

SOTM I have some questions about this passage —

(Mat 6:1-6 ESV) “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

2 “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

(Mat 6:16-18 ESV)  “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.  17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,  18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

Notice that Jesus inserts the Lord’s Prayer in the midst of three examples condemning hypocrisy. Why? Well, that’s for post on the Lord’s Prayer.

“Hypocrite” translates the Greek word for actor — someone who plays a part. And he is accusing some Jews of doing their good works to build their reputation in the community. And in an honor culture, this makes consideration sense. If what’s important to you is how you’re perceived rather than how good you are, announce your good deeds as loudly as possible. And we have plenty examples of the Greeks and Romans acting the same way. But, of course, Jesus expects more from us than pagan standards of morality. Continue reading

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