1 When you do good deeds, don't try to show off. If you do, you won't get a reward from your Father in heaven.
2When you give to the poor, don't blow a loud horn. That's what show-offs do in the synagogues and on the street corners, because they are always looking for praise. I can assure you that they already have their reward.
3When you give to the poor, don't let anyone know about it. 4Then your gift will be given in secret. Your Father knows what is done in secret and will reward you.
5 When you pray, don't be like those show-offs who love to stand up and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners. They do this just to look good. I can assure you that they already have their reward.
6When you pray, go into a room alone and close the door. Pray to your Father in private. He knows what is done in private and will reward you.
7 When you pray, don't talk on and on as people do who don't know God. They think God likes to hear long prayers. 8Don't be like them. Your Father knows what you need even before you ask.
9You should pray like this:
Our Father in heaven,
help us to honor
10Come and set up
so that everyone on earth
will obey you,
as you are obeyed
11Give us our food for today.
12Forgive us for doing wrong,
as we forgive others.
13Keep us from being tempted
and protect us from evil.
14 If you forgive others for the wrongs they do to you, your Father in heaven will forgive you. 15But if you don't forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.
16When you go without eating, don't try to look gloomy as those show-offs do when they go without eating. I can assure you that they already have their reward. 17 Instead, comb your hair and wash your face. 18Then others won't know you are going without eating. But your Father sees what is done in private, and he will reward you.
Reflections from an older male community leader listening to the Sermon on the Mount.
. . . It had been a long walk to this hillside to hear this radical young rabbi. I didn’t want to go, but everyone told me I had to hear him. There were more people than the population of our whole village sitting on the side of the hill. We waited. Then we saw him. He was unassuming, but commanding at the same time.
He spoke about many things, but one part cut me to the core.
I was a leader. I was honoured in my community. People had expectations of me. I was respected. Those younger than me served me.
But Jesus said, “Don’t show off. Don’t do things in public. When you pray, and give, and fast, don’t make sure everyone knows about it.”
Jesus was telling me to seek God in private, behind the curtains, in the quiet darkness, not to be noticed, except by God. Humbly, modestly, simply, unpretentiously, quietly.
That went against everything that was ever modeled to me. Against everything I modeled to others. Being noticed is part of who I am.
God, I have been so wrong. I am prideful and like to be noticed. Forgive me and help me to live differently. Help me to please you alone, without thinking of others.