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The Importance of Both the Inner Spiritual Life and the Outer Life of Ministry and Service – Matt 6:1-24 PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Tsang   
Monday, 25 June 2018 12:24


In Matthew chapter 6, we see the following:

6:1-4 – Giving to the Needy

6:5-15 – The Lord’s Prayer

6:16-18 – Fasting

The theme that runs through these sections is to do the right acts of devotion in the right way, namely, not for show but out of your love for the Father, and for the benefit of the other.


Giving to the Needy (6:1-4), almsgiving is

a word often used which includes any kind and good action intended to serve and help others. These acts of helping requires a lot of internal spiritual strength and character. The person often associated with giving and helping to the needy is of course, Mother Teresa of Calcutta. In one course that I took, we looked at the spiritual lives of the saints. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Mother Teresa has a very rich and deep spirituality.  Mother Teresa would began her day with 1.5 hours of prayer before her work. She is an example of someone who nurtured the inner life as she served the needs of others.



The Lord’s Prayer (6:5-15) sits at the center of the Sermon on the Mount and it includes many of the Sermon’s themes: holiness (perfections of the Father), kingdom (Beatitudes), our daily bread (giving to the needy), forgive our debts and debtors (murder, hate, anger, love for enemies), and deliver us from temptation (of the eyes, lust, vengeance, showing off, and mammon).


Fasting (6:16-18) is a classical spiritual exercise that strengthens the spiritual life. Jesus in his fast at the beginning of his ministry was able to fend off the temptations of the devil. Fasting helps us to identify with the hungry (those whom we are to help in 6:1-4). Fasting ultimately teaches us loosen the chains of injustice, to set the oppressed free, to share our food with the hungry, to clothe the naked and not to turn away from those in need (Isaiah 58:6-7).


Then we are called to consider how we use our earthly treasure (6:19-24) which takes us back to 6:1-4, to help those in need. In this way, we cultivate the inner spiritual life as we engage in the outer life of ministry and service.


Peace and grace, John

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 July 2018 13:02