Matthew 6:1–18 (NKJV)
6:1 “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.2 Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 3 But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.
The theme of this passage is basically “Don’t show off!” Decide what reward you desire. Do you want everyone to know that you are a generous, benevolent individual–to know how wealthy you are? If so, that will be your reward. But the better reward is for God to reward you in His time and in His way. So, don’t show off with your giving. Let your giving be private and let your reward be from God.
5 “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. 7 And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.
9 In this manner, therefore, pray:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. 10Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 11Give us this day our daily bread. 12And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
The next “don’t show off” lesson involves prayer. Jesus tells His disciples not to use vain repetitions, and to not stand on the street corners in order to draw attention to themselves. Instead, they should go into their secret place and pray to their Father in heaven. Jesus then gives them a prayer to use as an example, often called “the Lord’s Prayer.” It could just as easily be called “the Disciples’ Prayer.” It follows a formula that includes the most essential elements of prayer. The prayer flows through a litany of: identification, worship, submission, petition, confession and repentance, protection, and praise. Jesus tacks on a teaching about forgiveness at the end of the prayer to insure that the disciples were merciful and forgiving as well.
16 “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 17 But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
The final “don’t show off” in this passage speaks to fasting. Don’t act sad or tired or hungry. Keep your fasting private. Wash your face and fix your hair! God will reward you openly if you fast privately. All three of these teachings are at least partially in response to the pompous practices of the Pharisees, who sought for the admiration, approval, and respect of men. Jesus saw this sect of the Jews as being more desirous of the praise of men than of the praise of God. They were considered the elite leaders of the Jews, and He wanted all of Israel to realize that this showy form of worship was not God’s desire. Therefore, He said, “Don’t show off!”
Artwork from https://open.life.church/resources/2645-matthew-6-1