The Sermon on the Mount. Those words are likely some of the most often quoted words about the bible. I’m not talking about the words Jesus actually spoke in the sermon, but the words, “The Sermon on the Mount.” Many people know about the series of teachings that make up that sermon, but how many have actually stopped and really read them. My wife says one of her most traumatizing times as a 4th grader in Catholic school was having to memorize the Beatitudes. She recalls crying hysterically because she just couldn’t do it. Of course when we are in 4th grade memorizing things because the teacher says so is a lot different than memorizing them in a meaningful way. Which brings me to my point for this post.
Matthew Chapter 6 begins the discussion of practicing the disciplines. If we really read what Jesus is saying here, we see that he means for us to practice these things – giving to the needy, fasting, praying – in a meaningful way. He essentially saying, don’t be legalistic about it – don’t do these things for others to see so you can be proud of it – do them for God and God alone.
I have read several books on the disciplines and the bottom line in all of them points back to this main theme. Practice the disciplines because they are pleasing to God, and not so that others can take note. Of course the added benefit, for me anyway, is that they bring me closer to God. Pleasing God makes Him smile on me and fills me with joy. Pleasing God results in treasures being stored. Pleasing God is the whole point.
Father, I commit today and every day to try and please you. Help me when I falter, and forgive me when I fail. You are the whole point! Amen