Command of Christ # 12

Greetings,

This week's command is to 'Practice Secret Disciplines.' Now Jesus doesn't specifically say, 'Practice secret disciplines,' but He does use 18 verses to emphasize this point (Matthew 6:1-18). He focuses on three main disciplines: giving, praying, and fasting. For each discipline Jesus contrasts the Pharisees' methods with how Christians should go about them. By making this comparison, Jesus emphasizes His main point: seek God's approval over man's approval. Paul confirms this principle in Colossians, "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not unto men. Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance for ye serve the Lord Christ" (Colossians 3:23-24).

Giving: Jesus said, "But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth, that thine alms may be in secret: And thy Father which seeth in secret Himself shall reward thee openly" (Matthew 6:3-4). The word 'alms' means 'pertaining to charity'; it gives the idea of giving money and resources for the poor and needy. The Pharisees did not lack in their giving, but their motive was wrong. They did it to get man's praise and so that others would notice thier generosity. We are to give with the goal to further God's kingdom, not to gain the world's applause.

At one church, not to long ago, there was a family who practiced giving. At church, everyone thought of them as a poor family that did have very much money. They rarely had new clothes and the clothes they had looked old. Their house was quite small and their furniture was out-dated and worn too. Even though this family did not have nice things, every Sunday they would invite a lot of people over from church for a big meal. They would move their table into their small living room and have a big pot-roast dinner for anyone who wanted to come. It wasn't until many years later that people realized that they actually were very wealthy people. The father had a very good paying job and the family had plenty of money to buy whatever they wanted. Rather than being extravagent and making it obvious that they were using their money for minsitry, they did it secretly, so that some did not even know they had money to give!

Praying: "When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret, and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly" (Matthew 6:6). This is contrasted with the Pharisees and hypocrites who loved to pray standing in the temples and corners of the streets. Most of our praying should be done in a quiet place where we are free to focus on God fully. Praying in groups is very Biblical, however, it can be a distraction and source of pride if we are not careful. Have you noticed how many people don't want to pray in front of others? Is it because they do not like to talk to God or thank Him for meals? It may be that we are more focused on others' opinions. Praying in 'secret' regularly provides times where we are not distracted by the fear of man.

Fasting: "When thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face that thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which seeth in secret and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly" (Matthew 6:17-18). I love the description of the Pharisees who disfigure their faces so that people will notice how 'godly' they are for suffering. Especially for extended fasts, it will be very hard to keep your fast a complete secret. The idea is that we do not 'announce' it so that others will praise our efforts.


-How can I avoid disctractions to my prayer time?
-When I give, is my motive to receive God's praise or man's praise?
-What are some needs tha I could meet anonymously?

"For not he that comendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth" (II Cor. 10:18).

Blessings,
Amanda
Some notes adapted from IBLP Commands of Christ Study Guide and pocket guide


2 comments:

  1. Hi, Elanee! I really enjoyed reading this post! It was very encouraging to be reminded of the need to practice these different things in 'secret'.
    Personally, I tend to prefer to pray alone (in my room, in a closet, etc.), but, I have also seen, that there will be times when I will need to, or will be asked to pray (like in a girls' Bible study or something).
    Great post :)
    Btw, this is God's Maiden of Virtue (from Memverse). :)

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    1. I'm glad you liked this post, and I'm glad to see you on my blog Rosie!
      I agree with you, as I also prefer to pray alone in secret, but I have recently found it very beneficial to pray out loud when you're busy with other things.

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