Chapter six brings us to the third section of the Sermon on the Mount: the negative commands of Jesus. The commands are linked by the continued reminders not to be like people of the world. We do good for goodness sake, not to be seen of others. Our prayers other particularly religious acts are between God and ourselves, not opportunities to display piety for others.
Two commands stand out to me:
The first is not to focus on earthly things. It’s interesting how, as one grows older, a life becomes more crammed with things – particularly useless things. Not useless in that they have no utility, but in the sense that the owner has no use for them. You would think that a person, preparing for the Kingdom of Heaven would methodically reduce his assets, finding them a useful place in the service of others rather than let them become dust laden trophies that have to be repeatedly moved and maintained. That’s what Jesus calls us to, a life of downsizing here to furnish the home to come. Rare are the elderly who, on their own, downsize their lives so that as energy fades, they have less to care for. But that’s probably because they never learned to do it earlier in life.
The second involves Matthew’s rendition on the Lord’s Prayer. Compared to the others, Matthew focuses more on forgiveness – giving it and seeking it, but both Matthew and Mark condition receiving it on giving it.