A Reward with Your Heavenly Father

Sermon on the Mount  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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This lesson will look at the ways we are to be righteous before God and the reward from our heavenly Father for our righteousness.

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Introduction

Religious practices should be done to please God
Jesus warns of practicing your “righteousness” before men. He doesn’t seem to be speaking of righteousness in an ethical sense. He seems to be using it in reference to religious practices of worship and devotion.
Earlier in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said that our righteousness was to exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees -
When we please God, we are promised a reward from our Father in heaven - , , ,

Kindness and Generosity Towards Others

Jesus contrasts an inappropriate way to give with the appropriate way a child of God should give -
Do not brag about your giving
Do not seek honor from other people
If you do, you receive you reward in full and have nothing else to look forward to.
And you’re not looking for a reward from your Father in heaven; you’d only be looking for a reward from men.
Ananias and Sapphira did not learn the lesson Jesus was teaching - ; contrasted with Barnabas and others in
Jesus wants people to practice righteousness and do godly deeds. He wants His people to be giving, but He expects it to be done in a right way -
Give so you don’t divert attention to yourself
Give in a way that others may not be aware of it
Give
It is a good and righteous thing to give to those who are in need. With the establishment of the church, a community of sharing and caring for one another was created - ;
Therefore, Christians are told the manner that they should give and the appropriate attitude that should accompany them -
Giving should be purposed and planned in the heart
Giving should be done with cheerfulness and gladness
Giving should not be done with a grudging attitude with hostility or regret. Or with the feeling that it is based upon requirements, necessity, and expectation.
Giving is not to be done because someone is forced or compelled to do so.
Giving is not to be done in a boastful way so that people can be impressed with your financial ability -
When you give in the way that Jesus describes, then God will reward you -
It will not be a temporary reward of satisfaction and attention from others
It will be an eternal reward

Meaningful Prayer to God

Jesus continues His address to disciples about their religious practices and how they should be properly carried out. The next issue He deals with is prayer -
First, Jesus does not want prayer to be a hypocritical action -
“you are not to be like” - v 5
“do not use” - v 7
“do not be like them” - v 8
Prayer is to be an expression of secret, quiet devotion to God. It is not to be paraded in front of people -
Prayer should not be filled with meaningless repetitions -
Jesus does not condemn repetition. In fact, He would teach that we should pray for our “daily” bread. Prayer will be repetitive.
However, it should not be filled with words just so that we draw attention to ourselves
Prayer is designed so that we put our attention and focus on God our heavenly Father -
Prayer is not to be a cold, ritualistic practice with memorized phrases.
Jesus is not limiting the frequency of prayer, but addressing its nature. God is not moved by meaningless sounds or thoughtless ritual, but by genuine and sincere communica
Prayer is to be the expression of our joy and heart that is focused on the words that we use and express our heart to God.
Rather, he is demanding that all communication in prayer be meaningful. The danger of repetitive words or phrases comes in the failure to apply meaning and sincerity to them, not in the expression of the words themselves.
Prayer is supposed to be meaningful!
“Jesus is not limiting the frequency of prayer, but addressing its nature. God is not moved by meaningless sounds or thoughtless ritual, but by genuine and sincere communication...Rather, he is demanding that all communication in prayer be meaningful. The danger of repetitive words or phrases comes in the failure to apply meaning and sincerity to them, not in the expression of the words themselves,” (Kyle Pope, Matthew, 182-183).
Therefore, Jesus teaches us how we ought to pray. He is not giving us a prayer to just recite as a vain repetition. He IS giving us a foundation of what we should pray for every day -
Honor God - v 9
Consider God’s will and desire that His will be done on the earth - v 10
Recognize the gift of our daily needs, such as food - v 11
Understand the mercy and grace of God - v 12
Ask for God’s help with temptation - v 13
Appreciating these gifts and blessings from God will giving genuine meaning to our prayers!

Fasting that Expresses Joy

The final thing that Jesus addresses is the question of fasting -
Under the old covenant, Jews had certain days that they were to keep as holy days and many of those occasions would require fasting. Prayer was closely associated with fasting as well - cf ;
Yet just as any religious practice can be contaminated with hypocrisy and ritualism, merely going through the motions, so could fasting become an area of hypocrisy.
Fasting could give a sense of superiority or pretentiousness.
Therefore Jesus does not want religious fasting to be done so that people know that you are fasting -
While fasting is not commanded under the new covenant and by Jesus or His apostles, it was practiced in the New Testament and Jesus does tell us how we should fast -
Do not think of fasting as a punishment or an act of sorrow - v 16
Instead, be presentable and fast with a sense of joy - v 17
It is not wrong to fast for health purposes. In fact, some studies suggest it is healthy to fast. However, Jesus wants His disciples to fast in a way that would be an expression of disciples’ faith and joy as a Christian!
Fasting shows that you can bring your body under your control and use your body for God’s purposes -
Any act of worship to God should be the natural expression of joy and happiness. Acts of worship or private devotion, like fasting, should not be thought of as meaningless.

Conclusion

All of these illustrate not only what a Christian should do, but the appropriate way and manner a Christian should do it: Sincerity, meaning, purpose, determination, and righteousness.
When we practice righteousness that exceeds the righteousness of hypocrites, then we will receive a reward from our Father in heaven.
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