Fasting - Matthew 6:16-18

Thirdmill Study Bible

Notes on Matthew 6:16-7:12

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Fasting - Matthew 6:16-18

When you fast. Fasting is the practice of abstaining from food to dedicate oneself to prayer, meditation, and study. Sometimes people fast for a specific need, such as deliverance from one's enemies or disease, for repentance, or for grief (Exod. 24:18; 1 Sam. 1:7-8; 2 Sam. 1:12; 2 Chr. 20:3; Esth. 4:16; Matt. 4:2). For many people fasting is a regular habit, as it was especially for the Pharisees in Jesus' day who fasted two days each week. Jesus expects his disciples to fast but focuses on their motive for doing so. If one fasts to get praise and honor from others, then this does not please God or result in good for the person. See WCF 16.7; WLC 113.

Where your treasure is - Matthew 6:21

Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. In the Bible "heart" refers to the true inner person, not just one's emotions. Jesus teaches here that the heart/inner person is revealed in whether people give their time, energy, and love to the things of earth or to those of heaven.

The eye is the lamp of the body - Matthew 6:22

The eye is the lamp of the body. Along with the ears and the mouth, the eyes are an important body metaphor. Here Jesus teaches that the eye reveals what is inside the heart, whether darkness or light. As throughout the rest of the Sermon, Jesus emphasized the necessity of righteousness in the inner person.

You cannot serve God and wealth - Matthew 6:24

You cannot serve God and wealth. Jesus continually called people to wholeness, a singular and consistent devotion to God (Matt. 5:48). Trying to serve both God and wealth splits the soul and results in anxiety (Matt. 6:25-34), not wholeness. Wealth is particularly potent in the splitting of people's devotion, as the story of the rich young ruler also reveals (Matt. 19:16-22), where Jesus declares that it is difficult for a rich person to enter the kingdom for that reason (Matt. 19:23-24).

Anxiety - Matthew 6:25-34

Jesus exhorts his disciples to not live in constant anxiety about their daily needs because they have a heavenly Father who knows and cares (Matt. 6:26,30,32). The way to be free from anxiety is not by trying to gain more wealth and possessions (Matt. 6:19-24) but in seeking God's kingdom above all else (Matt. 6:33). See WCF 12, 14.3; WLC 74, 136, 142; HC 26, 121, 125.

Do not judge - Matthew 7:1

Do not judge. The command not to judge means be careful and wise in rendering judgments. It does not mean that disciples should never be discerning. Discerning right and wrong is essential, so that one does not give what is holy to dogs (Matt. 7:6) and so that the church can remain pure by removing contentious people (Matt. 18:15-20). But Jesus is challenging his hearers to pay attention to the inner person when rendering decisions (Matt. 7:2-5).

Your father in heaven - Matthew 7:11

How much more will your Father in heaven. Once again Jesus invites his disciples to consider God as a good and perfect heavenly Father who cares for their needs and who will provide (Matt. 6:25-34). See WLC 184.

The Golden Rule – Matthew 7:12

In this memorable saying Jesus gives a vision for how to behave in a greater righteousness way toward others. In the infinite number of situations that could arise, the disciple can be guided by learning to treat others how they would want to be treated. See WLC 122; HC 107, 111.

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