A Study Through the Gospel of Matthew - Part 4

Jesus' principles for spirituality in:

Religious life (6:1-18)

A major reason I hear non-Christians give for why they won't go to church is because they know hypocritical Christians. As we move further into the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus provides examples of how a person's faith can be expressed in hypocritical ways – specifically giving to the needy, praying, and fasting.

I had a whole blog on prayer (using the Lord's Prayer as an example) in May:

A Core Part of a Christian Life: Prayer - Cornerstone Impact Update
Throughout the Bible there are a plethora of examples of prayer. Prayer is our way of communicating with God and growing our relationship with Him. It’s a way to worship Him. As Christians, we need to make sure we’re not neglecting our prayer life. It’s something we should continually work
"Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven." (6:1)
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness." - Matthew 23:27-28

You don't have to keep your faith hidden and never do anything outwardly in public; however, it all comes down to the heart behind your actions. Are you doing things to be obedient to God, or are you just wanting to be noticed by the public? Throughout this section, it is repeated that the hypocrites who are doing things only to be seen have already received their reward – being seen by others, being praised; however, those who are non-hypocritical receive a greater gift from their Father in heaven. Humans love instant gratification. Therefore, it can be difficult to see others receive praise instantly while you’re not receiving an immediate reward. Hold fast and know that you have a greater gift coming for eternity.

Everyday life (6:19-34)

Since we started the Cornerstone Portfolios a couple years ago, we've shared different verses on money. A well-known verse is found in Matthew 6, "No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money" (verse 24). Are you clinging to your money? Don't let money control your life. When you look at money as God's and not your own, you have a weight lifted off your shoulder.

The next section is one I frequently revisit because I need the reminder not to stress about the future, something I regularly do.

"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?" (6:25)

Jesus then goes on to give different examples of how God has provided for lesser things – animals and plants. Human beings are more valuable than those; therefore, we shouldn't worry about God providing for us. Plus, is being anxious/worrying going to help your situation? "And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?" (6:27)

What should we do instead of worrying? "But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." (6:33-34)

Matthew 6:34 is a verse I have hanging in my house so that I have the reminder every day. This is especially helpful for me whenever I start stressing about what the future holds.

Community Relationships (7:1-12)

People love to judge others. We have a tendency to find and point out the flaws of other people (which can temporarily make us feel better about ourselves). Jesus doesn't tell us to never judge; however, he does warn us about inappropriate judging. This goes back to being hypocrites (see the beginning of this blog). We must humble ourselves to see our own sins before pointing out others' sins. Fellow believers are told to call their brothers and sisters in Christ to repentance, but it comes down to if we're doing it pridefully – we must not view ourselves as better than others.

"Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted." (Galatians 6:1)

Going along with our pride, we can (and should) go humbly to Jesus to ask for help. We don't have to (and shouldn't) do this life alone. Seek refers to your actual actions. After praying (asking God), you have to take action. Finally, persevere (knock) and continue to pray and work remembering that God will provide for you, according to His will.

"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened."

Jesus again uses a comparison to lesser beings like he did in chapter 6 – this time comparing earthly parents to our Heavenly Father. "If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!" (7:11)

Finally, a well-known verse (aka the Golden Rule):

"So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets." (7:12)

As you go out in your community and build relationships, keep these things in mind. Remember, as Christians, you want others to see God's love in your actions.

Jesus' warnings (7:13-29)

In order to keep the blog a reasonable length, I'm not going to go into detail on this last section of the Sermon on the Mount. Take some time over the month to read through it on your own. Look out for the following:

  1. Choosing between two gates/roads
  2. Two kinds of prophets
  3. Two kinds of disciples
  4. Two foundations

You have a choice to make. Either you're with Jesus or you're against him – there's no being on the fence!

"And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes." (7:28-29)

How do you respond to Jesus' teachings?

Cornerstone Impact Update

Ukraine Invasion

At the end of February, Russia invaded Ukraine. Ukrainians, mostly women and children, have fled their homes. There have also been hundreds of Ukrainians who have lost their lives because of Russian bombings. One of Eventide's core ideals is respecting the value and freedom of all people and demonstrating a concern for justice and peace. During this heartbreaking time where Ukraine is being attacked, Eventide's Research Analyst Faina Rozental reflects on the importance of considering the effects of our investments on real people's lives. I encourage you to take the time to read this article from Faina whose family came from Ukraine in the 90s.

What the Russia-Ukraine Crisis Teaches Us about Investing with Our Values
The Russia-Ukraine crisis has taught us the importance of investors thinking critically about what they are invested in.

Here's another article about the Russia/Ukraine conflict by Inspire's Tim Schwarzenberger:

Inspire Investing’s Commentary on Russia/Ukraine Conflict
Inspire Investing’s team provides commentary and helpful advice for investors in light of the Russia/Ukraine conflict.

Taking action: Engaging

One of the mandates of Biblically Responsible Investing (BRI) is engage. Oftentimes in BRI we focus on the avoid mandate – which focuses on what companies we don't want in our portfolios. However, the engage mandate allows us to have an impact. An aspect of this is reaching out to companies to advocate for positive change. Inspire is doing just that! J.M. Smucker Company has had wholesome family values for generations, but now they are choosing LGBTQ+ political activism. They provide 3 simple steps for you to take to let Smucker's know that you do not support their choice to trade wholesome family values for LGBTQ+ political activism:

Engagement Campaign: The J.M. Smucker Company
The J.M. Smucker Company is Moving Away from its Commitment to Christian Family Values to Support LGBTQ+ Activism

Christians need to band together to encourage companies toward positive behaviors and sustainability!

FREE Cornerstone Shirt

"Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good." - Romans 12:9

We want to continue spreading Biblical messaging to those around us. One way we do this is through our Cornerstone t-shirts. Want a free shirt? We now have 3 different designs (limited sizes available). Our newest design is the one pictured above in charcoal grey! Fill out the form below and we'll send one to you.

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West Point, VA
Courtney is SEM's Marketing Manager. She joined SEM full-time in 2016. Outside of SEM, Courtney enjoys hiking with her golden retriever, Mya and volunteering at LifePointe Christian Church.