1. “Be careful not to fall into the trap of doing good deeds publicly, just so you can be seen by the people whose applause and approval you crave. If public opinion is that important to you, you’re inevitably going to forfeit the promise of receiving a reward from your Father Who is in the heavenly realm.
2. “So whenever you give to the poor, don’t make a lot of noise about it; don’t blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites in the synagogues and in the streets like to do so that they may be recognized and honored by the public. In all honesty, the accolades and pats on the back that they will receive for their supposed generosity is all the reward that they will get.
3. “But when you give to charity, your motives should be so pure that you will be happy to be absolutely discreet about it. In fact, your low-profile acts of kindness ought to make it seem as though your left hand doesn’t even know what your right hand is doing,
4. so that your deeds of charity may be done quietly and your love offerings may be given in secret…even in anonymity. And then your Father Who sees in secret and knows the hidden things of the heart will reward you openly.
5. “Also when you pray, don’t 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 and heard by the people around them. Again, I tell you in all honesty, they have their reward in full, already.
6. “But when you pray – I mean when you really want to talk to God about what’s going on in your personal life – do it privately. Find a place where you can be alone…where you can close the door to the world and pray in confidence to your Father, Who dwells in the secret place. And your Father, Who sees into the hidden rooms of the heart, will reward you out in the open light of day. Then, when you emerge strengthened from your private place of individual prayer, you can move into a place of real, effective public prayer.
7. “And when you pray, do not mindlessly and mechanically mutter maxims and mottos; do not routinely and ritualistically repeat rote religious rhetoric as the Gentile heathen do, for they think they will be heard for their much speaking.
8. “Do not be like them. Really communicate with God, because the thing about prayer is this: your Father already knows what you need even before you ask Him! So prayer is more about building relationship with the one to whom you pray, for whom you pray, and with whom you pray, than it is about just getting your physical needs met. In other words, it is communication that not only creates a connection in heaven, but also creates a community on the earth.
9. “So pray like this: Our Father – not My Father…not your Father…but Our Father Who is in the heavenly realm – may Your name be hallowed by us and always kept holy in our collective consciousness.
10. “May Your kingdom continue to come to us and in us and through us. May Your will be done on earth…in the physical realm…as it is in heaven…in the spiritual realm.
11. Give us – not Me, not you, but us – give us this day, our daily bread…just the provision that we need in the now…no more…no less.
12. “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13. “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil…even the evil that we may find within ourselves. For Yours is the kingdom, the reign, the power and the glory forever. Amen.
14. “For if you readily forgive the people in your life their thoughtless mistakes and human failures, your heavenly Father will also freely forgive you.
15. “But if you do not forgive others their mistakes and failures, you prevent the Father’s forgiveness from flowing into your life, and so you end up going through life having unfinished business with God.
16. “And whenever you are fasting, don’t walk around looking sullen, intense and morose like the hypocrites do, for they play into religious stereotypes with their dramatics, that their fasting may be apparent to and seen by people. I tell you, honestly, that the attention they get from their audience is their full and complete reward.
17. “But when you fast, see to it that you smell good and look good through the whole process
18. so that your fasting may not be noticed by people, but by your Father (Who sees the secret motives of the heart); and your Father (Who sees what no one else can see), will reward you out in the open where everyone can see.
19. “Do not just accumulate and amass wealth in earthly places where your treasure may be vulnerable to the natural elements. Keep it away from moths and rust…anything that might consume and destroy it…and hold it in a dimension where thieves can never break through and steal it.
20. “But gather your wealth up and deposit it into the heavenly realm, where neither moth (anything that might eat it up) nor rust (anything that might cause it to disintegrate) may consume and destroy and where thieves are not able to break through and steal what you have;
21. for where your treasure or wealth is, there will your heart and mind and attention be also.
22. “Your perception ultimately becomes your reality. It’s as if the eye is the lamp of the body, because your vision (or the way that you see things) is the light that continually shines on your life-path and determines its direction. Perception is everything. So if your eye is healthy through singleness of vision – or if your perspective on life is positive and progressive – then your entire body will be full of light…your entire being will be progressively enlightened.
23. “But if your eye is diseased (if your perception is warped), your whole body or self will be full of darkness. And you can’t imagine how much darkness you can bring on yourself just by seeing things the wrong way and how dark that darkness can ultimately become if left unchecked!
24. “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stand by and be devoted to the one and despise and be opposed to the other. In a word, you cannot simultaneously serve God and Mammon (the god that people create in their lives through their illusions and delusions about money and possessions).
25. “Therefore, I tell you, stop being perpetually worried and unnecessarily stressed about your quality of life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink. Don’t be preoccupied by your body-image and by what you’ll have to put on. In the big picture, isn’t life greater and more important than food and the body more than clothing?
26. “Just take some time and look at the birds of the air. Haven’t you noticed that they aren’t preoccupied with the business of sowing and reaping and gathering their harvest into barns? And yet your heavenly Father keeps faithfully feeding them. Don’t you think that you are worth much more than they?
27. “And who of you by worrying and being anxious can add any height to his or her frame, or any years, or even minutes for that matter, onto his or her life-span?
28. “And why should you be anxious about clothes? Consider the lilies of the field and learn how they grow; they don’t strive with trying to be beautifully adorned, and they don’t wear themselves out by staying in a constant spin.
29. “And yet I tell you, even Solomon in all of his magnificent excellence was not arrayed like one of these beauties.
30. “So think about it…if God personally designs the wardrobe and so elegantly clothes the grass of the field (which today is alive and green and tomorrow is tossed into the furnace) will He not much more surely clothe you, O you whose faith needs to be enlarged?
31. “In other words, it’s just pointless to worry and be anxious, saying, ‘What are we going to have to eat?’ or ‘What are we going to have to drink?’ or ‘What are we going to have to wear?’
32. “For the nations are obsessed with these kinds of things, yet the fact remains that your heavenly Father already knows full well that you need them all.
33. “But seek out and search for a revelation of the kingdom of God in and through every circumstance, and in every situation. And seek it first (or first thing)...before you strive with the circumstance... before you start to worry about the situation…before you fret over it…before you allow yourself to become overwhelmed by it or let it become exaggerated in your mind. And along with your primary search, look diligently for His righteousness, (or His rightness) to be revealed somewhere in the thing, as well. When you prioritize the kingdom in this way, then you can be sure that everything in your personal world will come into order, and that all you need for your daily provision will just automatically flow into your life and will be added to you as a result of your quest.
34. “So don’t worry or be anxious about what may or may not happen tomorrow. Live in the now, because the kingdom is always revealed in the now. Deal with tomorrow and what it may bring when it gets here, knowing that tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own. As you live each day as it comes, God will enable you to successfully handle each day’s trouble, whatever it may be.