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Piety in Secret

‘When you are practising your piety, mind you don’t do it with an eye on the audience! Otherwise, you won’t have any reward from your father in heaven.

‘So when you give money to the poor, don’t sound a trumpet in front of you. That’s what people do when they’re just play-acting, in the synagogues and the streets. They do it so that people will be impressed at them. I’m telling you the truth: they’ve received their reward in full. No: when you give money, don’t let your left hand have any idea what your right hand is up to. That way, your giving will be in secret. And your father, who sees in secret, will repay you.

‘When you pray, you mustn’t be like the play-actors. They love to pray standing in the synagogues and on street corners, so that people will notice them. I’m telling you the truth: they have received their reward in full. No: when you pray, go into your own room, shut the door, and pray to your father who is there in secret. And your father, who sees in secret, will repay you.’

The Lord’s Prayer

‘When you pray, don’t pile up a jumbled heap of words! That’s what the Gentiles do. They reckon that the more they say, the more likely they are to be heard. So don’t be like them. You see, your father knows what you need before you ask him.

‘So this is how you should pray:

Our father in heaven,
may your name be honoured
10 may your kingdom come
may your will be done
as in heaven, so on earth.
11 Give us today the bread we need now;
12 and forgive us the things we owe,
as we too have forgiven what was owed to us.
13 Don’t bring us into the great trial,
but rescue us from evil.

14 ‘Yes: if you forgive people the wrong they have done, your heavenly father will forgive you as well. 15 But if you don’t forgive people, neither will your heavenly father forgive you what you have done wrong.’

On Fasting and Lasting Treasure

16 ‘When you fast, don’t be gloomy like the play-actors. They make their faces quite unrecognizable, so that everyone can see they’re fasting. I’m telling you the truth: they have received their reward in full. 17 No: when you fast, tidy your hair and beard the way you normally do, and wash your face, 18 so that others won’t notice you’re fasting – except your father, privately. Then your father, who sees in private, will repay you.

19 ‘Don’t store up treasure on earth. Moths and rust will eat it away, and robbers will break in and steal it. 20 No: store up for yourselves treasure in heaven! Moths and rust don’t eat it away there, and no robbers break in and steal it. 21 Show me your treasure, and I’ll show you where your heart is.

22 ‘The eye is the lamp of the body. So if your eye is honest and clear, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is evil, your whole body is in the dark. So, if the light within you turns out to be darkness, darkness doesn’t come any darker than that.

24 ‘Nobody can serve two masters. Otherwise, they will either hate the first and love the second, or be devoted to the first and despise the second. You can’t serve both God and wealth.’

Do Not Worry

25 ‘So let me tell you: don’t worry about your life – what to eat, what to drink; don’t worry about your body – what to wear. There’s more to life than food! There’s more to the body than a suit of clothes! 26 Have a good look at the birds in the sky. They don’t plant seeds, they don’t bring in the harvest, they don’t store things in barns – and your father in heaven feeds them! Think how different you are from them! 27 Can any of you add fifteen inches to your height just by worrying about it?

28 ‘And why worry about what to wear? Take a tip from the lilies in the countryside. They don’t work; they don’t weave; 29 but, let me tell you, not even Solomon in all his finery was dressed as well as one of these. 30 So if God gives that sort of clothing even to the grass in the field, which is here today and on the bonfire tomorrow, isn’t he far more likely to clothe you too, you little-faith lot?

31 ‘So don’t worry away with your “What’ll we eat?” and “What’ll we drink?” and “What’ll we wear?” 32 Those are all the kinds of things the Gentiles fuss about, and your heavenly father knows you need them all. 33 Instead, make your top priority God’s kingdom and his way of life, and all these things will be given to you as well.

34 ‘So don’t worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow can worry about itself. One day’s trouble at a time is quite enough.’

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