What is it?
I think for many years, I saw it as a list of impossible standards.
A mish-mash of unrelated things I am doing wrong.
Somehow it never seemed connected
to the other things Jesus said and did in the gospels.
I have sometimes avoided reading it,
because it seemed so hard for me to understand.
But a week ago, as I read through it,
themes grew clear I had not seen before.
In chapter 6:
Show mercy secretly.
God sees you.
God sees you.
God sees you.
Store up treasure in heaven.
Our Father, who art in heaven.
"Your Father who is in the secret place;
and Your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly."
He continually warns us not to be pretenders.
You might wonder where He said that.
He used a word we immediately distance from ourselves.
My Bible had 'pretenders' in the margin notes.
You know -- public worshipers.
About that treasure.
You know: those gold coins you invest in
and then hide somewhere where no one can find them but you.
The sure thing that can withstand the economic crash when it comes.
The secret hoard.
The private resource.
The place your heart worships,
because it's where your heart stays always.
So have a secret trust.
Have a secret worship.
Let it be in Him.
I flipped back into chapter 5.
He spoke about murder, the public display of the secret hatred.
Adultery, the public display of secret lust.
Going to present your (public) gift to God
while your brother has something (secret) against you.
Drop the gift: go be reconciled.
Let your gift be given from a secret worship.
About honest words which need no oath.
Loving and praying for an enemy.
This is how our Father is: honest; pure in heart; secretly loving.
Forgiving from the heart.
Worship of the Father is not a display.
It's a secret adoration that calls forth love.
That compels me to forgive when I am wronged.
To have a true heart toward my husband.
To reconcile with my brother.
To withhold judgment and let it rest with Him.
To love those who definitively do not love me.
And I found myself mentally standing in the place of the Samaritan woman.
"The woman said to Him, 'Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.
Our fathers worshiped in this mountain,
and you say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.'
Jesus said to her, 'Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming
when you shall neither worship the Father in this mountain
nor yet at Jerusalem. ...The hour is coming, and now is,
when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth,
for the Father seeks such to worship Him.
God is a spirit, and they who worship Him
must worship in spirit and in truth.'"
In spirit and in truth.
In secret in my heart.
Not from a prominent place for the observation of men,
but from a secret devotion for the eyes of the Lord.
Is it possible that when He says in chapter 7,
"Do not give what is holy to the dogs;
nor cast your pearls before swine,"
He is referring to all these things
which the love of God ought to inspire in us
being done as a display for the praise of men?
It's a prostitution of worship --
a leaving of our first love.