Day 28      Matthew 6 ... Savings Account

Matthew 6, a continuation of the Sermon on the Mount, contains The Lord's Prayer, perhaps the most famous prayer of all. Jesus gave it as a model of prayer, and it captures well the message of the kingdom: "Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Jesus sought to bring the two world's together, and the Sermon on the Mount explains how.

At first glance, some of the advice may seem downright foolish: Give to everyone who asks, love your enemies, turn the other cheek, grant interest-free loans, don't worry about clothes or food. Can such idealism ever work in the "real," or visible, world? That was Jesus" point precisely: Break your obsession with safety, security, thriftiness, self-righteousness. Depend instead on the father, letting him take care of the personal injustices that come your way, trusting him to look after your daily needs. In a nutshell, the message of the kingdom is this: Live for God and not other people.

The message applies to rewards as well. Most of us look to friends and colleagues for our rewards: a slap on the back, a hero medal, applause, a lavish compliment. But according to Jesus, by far the most important rewards await us after death. Therefore, the most significant human acts of all may be carried out in secret, seen by no one but God.

As Jesus explained it, We are accumulating a kind of savings account, "storing up treasures" in heaven rather than on earth. Treasures so great that they will pay back any amount of suffering in this life. The Old Testament had dropped a few scant hints about an afterlife, but Jesus spoke plainly about a place where" the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of the Father. (13:43).

In their quest for a kingdom, the Jews had been looking for signs of God's approval in this life, primarily through prosperity and political power. Beginning with this speech, Jesus changed the focus of the life to come. He discounted success in this visible world. Invest in the future life , he cautioned; after all, rust, a thief, or a lowly insect can destroy all else that we accumulate.

Point to Ponder: Of the people you know, who best puts these principles into practice?