Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount continues in Matthew 6–7. In this part of His sermon, He taught that righteous acts of devotion should be done to please Heavenly Father. He also instructed His disciples to seek first to build the kingdom of God.
Ponder the following questions: Have you ever done something good for the wrong reasons? If so, what motivated you to do so?
Read Matthew 6:1–2, looking for what the Savior said was an improper motive for doing righteous acts.
Alms are acts of religious devotion, such as giving help to the poor (see Matthew 6:1, footnote b). What do these verses teach about why some people perform alms?
Notice that the Savior called these people “hypocrites,” which in Greek refers to those who are pretenders (see Matthew 6:2, footnote a).
Read Matthew 6:3–4, looking for what the Savior taught about how His disciples should perform righteous acts. You may want to mark the Savior’s promise to those who perform righteous acts for the right reasons.
To serve in secret implies that we quietly perform service to others without fanfare or seeking some type of benefit. There is much to be said for the quiet acts of service of which no one ever knows except the one being served and the server.
Complete the following statement to identify a principle we learn from the Savior’s teachings: If we perform acts of devotion to please Heavenly Father rather than seek the attention of others, then He will .
The phrase “reward thee openly” could mean that Heavenly Father may bless us in temporal or spiritual ways that others may or may not see but which we may easily recognize when we receive the blessing.
Read Matthew 6:5–6 and Matthew 6:16–18, looking for examples the Savior used to illustrate the principle of performing acts of devotion to please Heavenly Father. The phrases “sad countenance” and “they disfigure their faces” in verse 16 refer to individuals who make outward displays of their fasting.
Public prayer is not wrong, and not all prayers need to be done in secret. Prayer and other religious practices may be done publicly if they are done with sincerity and devotion and according to correct Church practices.
In your scripture study journal, describe a time when you performed righteous acts of devotion—such as praying or fasting—in order to please Heavenly Father. Write down the ways you felt blessed for your sincere worship.
In Matthew 6:7–15 the Savior provided instruction and a pattern for the proper manner to pray. His own example of prayer is known as the Lord’s Prayer. Read these verses looking for additional truths you can learn about prayer from the Lord’s example.
Consider finding a quiet, private place to pray aloud, and offer a sincere prayer to Heavenly Father there. What differences did you notice between offering a vocal prayer and a silent prayer? Were your thoughts more focused when you were able to pray aloud?
In your scripture study journal, write down a few insights from your study of Matthew 6:7–15 that might help you be more effective in your personal prayers.
A treasure is anything that we value greatly.
Read Matthew 6:19–21, looking for the types of treasures the Savior taught His disciples to seek after.
What did the Savior say the difference was between treasures stored up on earth and treasures stored up in heaven?
In the following chart, list three examples of treasures people may seek to store up here on earth and three examples of treasures that we can store up in heaven.
Treasures on earth
Treasures in heaven
Read Matthew 6:22–24, looking for what the Savior taught that can help us lay up treasures in heaven.
The Joseph Smith Translation of Matthew 6:22 helps us understand that the Savior taught that in order to lay up treasures in heaven we must keep our eyes “single to the glory of God” (Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 6:22 [in Matthew 6:22, footnote b]), meaning to align our perspective and will to God’s.
From the last sentence of Matthew 6:24 we learn the following truth that can help us remember to lay up treasures in heaven: We cannot serve both God and mammon. The word mammon refers to riches or worldliness.
Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: Why do you think we cannot serve God and mammon at the same time?
Ponder your own life, and think of an example of how focusing your desires on something worldly could distract you from serving God and laying up treasures in heaven.
As recorded in Matthew 6:25–34, the Savior instructed His disciples to not be worried with providing for their basic needs. The Joseph Smith Translation of Matthew 6:25–27 helps us understand that He was speaking specifically to those who would go forth to preach His gospel (see Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 6:25–27 [in the Bible appendix]).
What principle can we learn from Matthew 6:33?
“The kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33) represents the Church of Jesus Christ then and now. In our day it represents The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which was restored to prepare Heavenly Father’s children for His kingdom in heaven—the celestial kingdom.
The following statement by President Ezra Taft Benson can help you understand how to apply this principle in your life:
“We must put God in the forefront of everything else in our lives. He must come first. …
“When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives. Our love of the Lord will govern the claims for our affection, the demands on our time, the interests we pursue, and the order of our priorities.
“We should put God ahead of everyone else in our lives” (“The Great Commandment—Love the Lord,” Ensign, May 1988, 4).
Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: When have you experienced Heavenly Father’s blessings as you sought to put Him first in your life?
Matthew 7:1 is often misunderstood to mean that we should never judge. However, we learn from the Joseph Smith Translation that Jesus Christ taught that we should “judge righteous judgment.”
What do you think it means to judge righteously?
Elder Dallin H. Oaks explained different kinds of judgment:
“I have been puzzled that some scriptures command us not to judge and others instruct us that we should judge and even tell us how to do it. But as I have studied these passages I have become convinced that these seemingly contradictory directions are consistent when we view them with the perspective of eternity. The key is to understand that there are two kinds of judging: final judgments, which we are forbidden to make, and intermediate judgments, which we are directed to make, but upon righteous principles. …
“In contrast to forbidding mortals to make final judgments, the scriptures require mortals to make what I will call ‘intermediate judgments.’ These judgments are essential to the exercise of personal moral agency. …
“We all make judgments in choosing our friends, in choosing how we will spend our time and our money, and, of course, in choosing an eternal companion. …
“In the intermediate judgments we must make, we should take care to judge righteously. We should seek the guidance of the Spirit in our decisions. We should limit our judgments to our own stewardships. Whenever possible we should refrain from judging people until we have an adequate knowledge of the facts. So far as possible, we should judge circumstances rather than people. In all our judgments we should apply righteous standards. And, in all of this we must remember the command to forgive” (“‘Judge Not’ and Judging,” Ensign, Aug. 1999, 7, 9, 13).
“This business of beams and motes seems to be closely related to our inability to see ourselves clearly. I’m not sure why we are able to diagnose and recommend remedies for other people’s ills so well, while we often have difficulty seeing our own.
“Some years ago there was a news story about a man who believed that if he rubbed lemon juice on his face, it would make him invisible to cameras. So he put lemon juice all over his face, went out, and robbed two banks. Not much later he was arrested when his image was broadcast over the evening news. When police showed the man the videos of himself from the security cameras, he couldn’t believe his eyes. ‘But I had lemon juice on my face!’ he protested. [See Errol Morris, ‘The Anosognosic’s Dilemma: Something’s Wrong but You’ll Never Know What It Is’ (Part 1), New York Times, June 20, 2010; opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/20/the-anosognosics-dilemma-1.]
“When a scientist at Cornell University heard about this story, he was intrigued that a man could be so painfully unaware of his own incompetence. To determine whether this was a general problem, two researchers invited college students to participate in a series of tests on various life skills and then asked them to rate how they did. The students who performed poorly were the least accurate at evaluating their own performance—some of them estimating their scores to be five times higher than they actually were. [See Justin Kruger and David Dunning, ‘Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments,’ Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Dec. 1999, 1121–34.]
“This study has been replicated in numerous ways, confirming over and over again the same conclusion: many of us have a difficult time seeing ourselves as we truly are, and even successful people overestimate their own contribution and underestimate the contributions that others make. [See Marshall Goldsmith, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There (2007), chapter 3.]
“It might not be so significant to overestimate how well we drive a car or how far we can drive a golf ball. But when we start believing that our contributions at home, at work, and at church are greater than they actually are, we blind ourselves to blessings and opportunities to improve ourselves in significant and profound ways” (“Lord, Is It I?” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2014, 56–57).
The Joseph Smith Translation of Matthew 7:6 helps us understand that Jesus Christ called His disciples to go into the world to preach. They were to teach repentance but keep the mysteries of the kingdom to themselves. In other words, they were not to discuss holy subjects with people who were not ready to receive them. (See Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 7:9–11 [in the Bible appendix].)
According to the Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 7:7 begins with the phrase “Say unto them, Ask of God.” Read verse 7 beginning with this phrase, looking for what the Savior told His disciples to teach.
From this verse we learn the following principle: As we ask, seek, and knock in our search for truth, Heavenly Father will answer and bless us with personal revelation.
What do the words ask, seek, and knock indicate we must do to receive personal revelation?
Ponder a time when your asking, seeking, and knocking invited personal revelation.
As recorded in Matthew 7:9–11, the Savior taught that just as a loving father would not give a stone or a snake when his son asks for bread or fish, Heavenly Father will not deny the gift of personal revelation to His children who seek and ask for appropriate things.
Read Matthew 7:12–14, looking for additional truth the Savior told His disciples to teach. The word strait in this passage refers to the gate being narrow, as opposed to straight, meaning in a direct line, not crooked.
What are some ideas that are commonly accepted by the world but are contrary to Heavenly Father’s plan?
Think about why it would be important for you to be able to understand if a person or a group is promoting an idea that is contrary to Heavenly Father’s plan.
Read Matthew 7:15, looking for the Lord’s warning to His disciples.
Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles warned of “false prophets and false teachers, both men and women, who are self-appointed declarers of the doctrines of the Church” as well as “those who speak and publish in opposition to God’s true prophets and who actively proselyte others with reckless disregard for the eternal well-being of those whom they seduce” (“Beware of False Prophets and False Teachers,” Ensign, Nov. 1999, 63).
Read Matthew 7:16–20, looking for one way we can discern whether someone is a false prophet or false teacher.
From these verses we learn the following truth: We can discern false prophets by their fruits. Similar to identifying the quality of a plant by the type or quality of the fruit it produces, we can identify false prophets and false teachers by their teachings, actions, and ideas.
What do you think would be some fruits of false prophets?
Read Matthew 7:21–27, looking for what the Savior taught about the importance of living according to His teachings. Note that the Joseph Smith Translation changes the statement in verse 23 from “I never knew you” to “Ye never knew me” (Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 7:33 [in Matthew 7:23, footnote a]).
In your scripture study journal, write how you will apply in your life one or more of the principles you identified in this lesson.
Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Matthew 6–7 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: