Daily email Number 357 – from the Vicar

It is the morning after the night before(!), but we carry on because God is good, Jesus died for us, and despite being a self-confessed sports nut football isn’t everything.
We move on to the next section of the Sermon on the Mount, and I suggest we read the whole chunk today, Matthew Chapter 6 verses 1 to 18, as an overview, and I’ll come back to it in a bit more detail next time.
Verse 1 sums it up.  ‘Be careful not to do your “acts of righteousness” before men, to be seen by them.  If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.’  And by “acts of righteousness” Jesus means giving, praying, fasting, if you like some of the practices/disciplines of the Christian faith. And Jesus expects us to do all of these things – note when you give, pray, fast, (vs.2, 5, 16) not if you give, pray, fast.
As we have seen, in the previous sections of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus is speaking against the interpretation of the Scribes and Pharisees to make the OT law something which is to do with external practice only, eg murder, adultery and oath keeping, whilst Jesus is broadening and deepening the meaning to cover the attitudes of our hearts. Similarly here Jesus is speaking against acts of righteousness which are external, showy, draw attention to themselves, and says instead that they should be practised in a less obvious way, known to only the person doing them, and the Lord Himself.  Again Jesus is much more concerned with what happens on the inside of a person, not what can be seen by others.
This goes against our natural human tendencies, and therefore is more difficult, and therefore I think is another clue to what I said right at the beginning that the Sermon on the Mount is for Christians, not a manifesto for the whole world, because we need God’s help, the presence and the person of the Holy Spirit to help us put these things into practice.
I will return to these verses on Wednesday after my day off.

And so in our prayers from our extended church address list, please remember today,- Andrew, our Minister in training, currently on his summer placement at Burton Latimer church- George & Pat

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