Thursday after the Second Sunday after Epiphany
Scripture: St. Matthew 6:1-23 (NKJV)
6:1 “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 3 But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.
5 “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. 7 And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.
8 “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. 9 In this manner, therefore, pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. 13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’
14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
16 “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 17 But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
19 “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.
22 “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”
Today’s reading can be pretty succinctly summed up by verse 21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” The Lord gently presents for us a list of examples that are undeniable in their unified condemnation of the sinful fleshly tendency to be attracted to temporal pleasure and self-aggrandizing, at the expense of eternal bliss and contented humility before God’s will.
Jesus explains that whenever and however we start down the path of satisfying earthly desire without regulating such with and through the filter and lens of God’s Word and will, it is only a matter of time before it will come to dominate our life. Anything or anybody has the potential to replace God as foremost in our heart and life, for that which is first in your heart is your god. Every aspect of our existence should be regulated by our earnest desire to please our gracious loving Father in Heaven by fulfilling His will on Earth. Through regular interaction with the Means of Grace this attitude and objective can be fed and strengthened that the new man born in Baptism may repeatedly arise and the old man of sin be daily drown.
Almighty God, all that we possess in Heaven and Earth is from Your loving hand. Give us grace that we may always see this, and thus live our lives totally ruled by Your holy righteous will and word. Grant that our numerous sins may be drowned through daily repentance; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.