There is a lot to take in from this chapter of Matthew. But if I had to sum it up in just a few words, I think the main gist of this passage is that what humans think they need to do to please God and what we really need to do to please God are off by a little bit. As I read this chapter, I was reminded of the last sermon that Micah preached at First Pres. His main point was that all of the religious rituals that are done in some churches or by some people are not what God really wants from us. Instead, what God really wants from us is what I blog about all the time. Love God and love others…in that order. God wants us to have a relationship with him through prayer, but those prayers don’t have to be long, fancy, and full of big words. This chapter also says that what we do to attempt to please God shouldn’t be boastful just to show off for others. I believe that to mean that we don’t have to only pray in secret, or only make anonymous donations to the needy. It’s more of a matter of what’s on our heart at the time that we are doing those things. If I have something that I need to pray to God for while I’m at the mall, there is nothing wrong with me saying a quick prayer in a very public place. But if I drop to my knees in the middle of the walkway so that everyone will see me (and maybe because I know people will see me and know I am religious), then maybe I’m doing it for the wrong reasons. In the end, only God knows what is on our hearts and what our intent is.
Finally, the part of this chapter that is both the most reassuring and most difficult is the last paragraph about worrying. I don’t know about you, but I can be the model citizen for worry. I get worried about lots of things that in the end probably really don’t matter. I always have to take a step back and ask myself in the grand scheme of life, how much does this really matter? Worrying about those things won’t add anything to my life. In fact, it is just the opposite. Worry takes away from my life. It makes life absolutely miserable at times. But again, I think there is a difference between worry and general concern. I worry about things because I care. But maybe I care a little too much. I truly believe that everything that I have is a gift from God, so I always make sure to make the best effort to take great care of everything that I’ve been blessed with. I work my butt off at my job for that reason. I take care of my belongings for that reason. I try to not be wasteful with money for that reason. But sometimes, I get too focused on being “perfect” with those things, even though there isn’t really a such thing as perfect. God created, and it was good. As long as I am trying my hardest to be the best that God made me to be, then I think I am doing right by Him. But to overextend myself and make too much of a deal out of those same things is trying to be someone God doesn’t intend for me to be. At that point, Satan has taken over my thoughts and causes unnecessary stress.
So, keep it simple for God. He doesn’t need or want big and fancy. He just wants you to be devoted to Him. And know that God will always provide for you exactly what you need and not a penny more. No need to worry too much about things because God’s plan for us is much greater than what we can see in front of our own eyes. Trust in His plan. Not easy to do, but all we can do is keep trying to focus on Him and ask for his guidance through simple prayers.