Monday, September 19
Asbury Seminary faculty comment on the Sermon on the Mount at asburyreader.com.
Matthew 6:1-18 NLT
“Take care! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired, because then you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. When you give a gift to someone in need, don’t shout about it as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I assure you, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone, don’t tell your left hand what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in secret, and your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you.
“And now about prayer. When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I assure you, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father secretly. Then your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you.
“When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered only by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, because your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him! Pray like this:
Our Father in heaven,
may your name be honored.
May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done here on earth,
just as it is in heaven.
Give us our food for today,
and forgive us our sins,
just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.
“And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, who try to look pale and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I assure you, that is the only reward they will ever get. But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. Then no one will suspect you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in secret. And your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you.”
No matter how much we may point to our creeds she insists on pointing us to the pattern shown her in the Mount. The fact is that the Sermon on the Mount is not in our creeds. As the Apostles’ Creed now stands you can accept every word of it and leave the essential self untouched. Suppose we had written in it our creeds and had repeated each time with conviction: I believe in the Sermon on the Mount and in its way of life, and I intend, God helping me, to embody it”? What would have happened? I feel sure that if this had been our main emphasis, the history of Christendom would have been different.
E. Stanley Jones, The Christ of the Mount.