Matt 6:1 do not your alms before men, to be seen of them
James E. Talmage
"The tossing of alms to a beggar, the pouring of offerings into the temple treasure chests, to be seen of men, and similar displays of affected liberality, were fashionable among certain classes in the time of Christ; and the same Spirit is manifest today. Some there be now who cause a trumpet to be sounded, through the columns of the press perchance, or by other means of publicity, to call attention to their giving, that they may have glory of men -- to win political favor, to increase their trade or influence, to get what in their estimation is worth more than that from which they part. With logical incisiveness the Master demonstrated that such givers have their reward. They have received what they bid for; what more can such men demand or consistently expect?" (Jesus the Christ, p. 237)
Matt 6:2 Verily I say unto you, They have their reward
Thomas S. Monson
"Perhaps no one in my reading has portrayed this teaching of the Master quite so memorably or so beautifully as Henry Van Dyke in his never-to-be-forgotten 'The Mansion.' In this classic story is featured one John Weightman, a man of means, a dispenser of political power, a successful citizen. His philosophy toward giving can be gained from his own statement: 'Of course you have to be careful how you give, in order to secure the best results-no indiscriminate giving-no pennies in beggars' hats! . . . Try to put your gifts where they can be identified and do good all around.'
"One evening John Weightman sat in his comfortable chair at his library table and perused the papers spread before him. There were descriptions and pictures of the Weightman wing of the hospital and the Weightman Chair of Political Jurisprudence, as well as an account of the opening of the Weightman Grammar School. John Weightman felt satisfied.
"Then he picked up the family Bible, which lay on the table, turned to a passage, and read these words: 'Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.' (Matthew 6:19-20.)
"The book seemed to float away from him. He leaned forward upon the table, his head resting on his folded hands. He slipped into a deep sleep.
"In his dream, John Weightman was transported to the Heavenly City. A guide met him and others whom he had known in life and said that he would conduct them to their heavenly homes.
"The group paused before a beautiful mansion and heard the guide say, 'This is the home for you, Dr. McLean. Go in; there is no more sickness here, no more death, nor sorrow, nor pain; for your old enemies are all conquered. But all the good that you have done for others, all the help that you have given, all the comfort that you have brought, all the strength and love that you bestowed upon the suffering, are here; for we have built them all into this mansion for you.'
"A devoted husband of an invalid wife was shown a lovely mansion, as were a mother, early widowed, who had reared an outstanding family, and a paralyzed young woman who had lain for thirty years upon her bed-helpless but not hopeless-succeeding by a miracle of courage in her single aim: never to complain, but always to impart a bit of her joy and peace to everyone who came near her.
"By this time, John Weightman was impatient to see what mansion awaited him. As he and the Keeper of the Gate walked on, the homes became smaller-then smaller. At last they stood in the middle of a dreary field and beheld a hut, hardly big enough for a shepherd's shelter. Said the guide, 'This is your mansion, John Weightman.'
"In desperation, John Weightman argued, 'Have you not heard that I have built a schoolhouse; a wing of a hospital; . . . three . . . churches?'
"'Wait,' the guide cautioned. 'They were not ill done. But they were all marked and used as foundations for the name and mansion of John Weightman in the world. . . . Verily, you have had your reward for them. Would you be paid twice?'
"A sadder but wiser John Weightman spoke more slowly: 'What is it that counts here?'
"Came the reply, 'Only that which is truly given. Only that good which is done for the love of doing it. Only those plans in which the welfare of others is the master thought. Only those labors in which the sacrifice is greater than the reward. Only those gifts in which the giver forgets himself.'" (Live the Good Life, p. 31-33)
Matt 6:3 let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth
To give without anyone else knowing is to give anonymously. But we are to give without even the left hand knowing what is going on. In the metaphor, the left hand represents the possibility of receiving something in return. The left hand must be kept quietly at one's side, or else it might hope to receive some kind of benefit from the work of the right hand. Elder Carlos E. Asay has reminded us, "Those who strive to share the gospel with the hope of some tangible reward uppermost in their minds are too much like those who give with one hand and expect to receive with the other or who give a gift that sticks to their fingers. On the other hand, those who give or share with an intangible blessing in mind are required to exercise a greater faith. Their motive for doing seems purer than those who do with the expectation of an immediate and tangible return." (The Seven M's of Missionary Service: Proclaiming the Gospel as a Member or Full-time Missionary, chap. 6)
Henry B. Eyring
"...the Lord said, 'Do not your alms before men.' (Matthew 6:1.) And the best people don't. They do good very privately. Now and then I get a glimpse, always by accident, of the way some people live the simple commandments of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They don't know more than you and I know; they just do more of the simple things you and I have already been taught as children in a Primary class. I discover acts of kindness, of forgiveness, or of moral endurance beyond what I had thought we could do." (To Draw Closer To God, pp. 67-68)
Spencer W. Kimball
"I am grateful that all through this great Church there are many people who live unselfishly, who pray in the quiet of their homes, who are far more interested in paying their tithes of which no one knows except their bishop, than they are to pay large contributions which may be heralded far and wide. I am grateful that there are numerous people in this Church who go quietly week after week to attend their meetings; worship the Lord in their assemblies; bear testimony in their fast meetings; serve faithfully as ward teachers, stake missionaries, or in the auxiliaries or priesthood quorums without glamour, without praise, without public notice.
"God bless us, brothers and sisters, that we may 'seek first the kingdom,' that we may forget all else, and that we may project ourselves out of ourselves into the great world of service to our fellow men, realizing that after all, the two great commandments which the Lord gave to us did this very thing...
"All of this is service to others-love of others, not love of nor service to ourselves. May the Lord bless us that we may be unselfish in this kingdom, give of ourselves generously that we may live by the spirit rather than by the letter..." (Conference Report, October 1951, Afternoon Meeting 90.)
Matt 6:5 when thou prayest thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are
Bruce R. McConkie
"'For behold, God hath said a man being evil cannot do that which is good; for if he offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing. For behold, it is not counted unto him for righteousness .... And likewise also is it counted evil unto a man, if he shall pray and not with real intent of heart; yea, and it profiteth him nothing, for God receiveth none such.' (Moro. 7:6-9.) Rather men are commanded to 'pray unto the Father with all the energy' of their hearts, with all the strength that their whole souls possess. (Moro. 7:48.)
"...'Do not pray as the Zoramites do, for ye have seen that they pray to be heard of men, and to be praised for their wisdom. Do not say: O God, I thank thee that we are better than our brethren; but rather say: O Lord, forgive my unworthiness, and remember my brethren in mercy -- yea, acknowledge your unworthiness before God at all times.' (Alma 38:13-14.) Further: 'Pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you.' (3 Ne. 12:44; Matt. 5:44.)
"Those formal, written prayers which are commonly read by ministers, and those recited by lay church members in doing penance or seeking grace, are devoid of the true spirit of prayer and should be shunned. Frequently they are spoken without real intent; and their use keeps men from searching their own hearts in an attempt to pray in faith according to an approved pattern so that actual blessings may be gained from Deity. Not infrequently these prepared prayers are read, recited, or chanted in ritualistic ceremonies in which the speakers do not concentrate all the faculties of their whole souls upon the prayers being offered. As a consequence the words often take on the nature of useless jargon and do not open the door to the receipt of the Lord's blessings." (Mormon Doctrine, p. 585)
Charles W. Penrose
"Now, prayer is not acceptable for its rhetoric. It is that which comes from the heart, the sincere sentiment, the secret feeling, which ascends to our Father and which He, who sees in secret, will reward openly. It is not a multitude of words and repetitions that is pleasing to the Lord, but the earnest desire of a humble heart. And this will be answered, no matter how broken or ungrammatical the language may be. On the other hand, no matter how flowery the language of the petition may be, if it does not convey the feelings of the heart, it is not true prayer." (Collected Discourses 1886-1898, ed. by Brian Stuy, vol. 2, Charles W. Penrose, March 22, 1891)
Matt 6:6 when thou prayest, enter into thy closet
Vaugh J. Featherstone
"Now, the Lord taught us to pray in secret. What happens to us when we pray in secret? First, our faith is put to the test. How foolish people would feel who pray alone and really do not believe in God. We can pray in public and people might think we believe, but praying alone takes faith. When we pray alone, there is no one to impress with our command of the language, with our beautiful phrases or eloquence. We simply talk with a loving, interested Father about what is troubling us most. We take problems that no one else, not another living soul, can help us with. We become like little children, feeling a dependence and need for someone wiser and with power and influence. We do not have to worry about embarrassment if our prayers are not answered the way we think they should be, because only we and God know for what we pray. When tears come, there is no embarrassment. We can be totally honest, knowing that we cannot lie to or deceive the Spirit or God. He knows us for our real worth. He knows who and what we really are, not what we seem to be. When we have personal problems or struggles, we can pray and know that these things are kept totally confidential. We can discuss our weaknesses, our sins, our frustrations, our needs, and know that He will listen and respond." (The Incomparable Christ: Our Master and Model, 60 - 61.)
Matt 6:7 Use not vain repetitions
Ezra Taft Benson
"Our public prayers need not be everlasting to be immortal. We are advised not to multiply many words (3 Nephi 19:24) and to avoid vain repetitions (Matthew 6:7). An invocation should set the spiritual tone of the meeting, and the benediction should leave the people on a high spiritual plane, because they have been present when one has talked with God. It is the feeling rather than the length which determines a good public prayer." (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 427.)
Matt 6:9-13 The Lord's Prayer
"The Lord's Prayer is more than just a way of getting through life, a code of morals or a pattern of behavior. It is an appeal to a Father we have known before and hope to dwell with hereafter. It asks for help in carrying out the first and greatest commandment. In this very short prayer, God, man as the child of God, and felloou with eyes of love and mercy--love and mercy that we cannot fully understand. But love and mercy are with Him the very moment you say., wman are all put in their proper relationship, which is the closest possible family association, approaching identity. The Tempter and his methods are introduced without which the statement of the Gospel plan would be incomplete; for the prayer by its very nature is an appeal from those in distress who are supplicating for something much better than what they have.
"What we want is to dwell in the Father's Kingdom under the sole dominion of his divine will by his power and in his glory forever and ever." (Of All Things: Classic Quotations from Hugh Nibley, 2nd ed., edited by Gary P. Gillum [FARMS], 180.)
Matt 6:9 Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name
True prayer places our relationship with God in proper perspective. Any other kind of prayer never makes it past the ceiling.
When we approach God the Father in prayer, we should be immediately humbled by the relationship. With bended knee and bowed head, we should feel as if we are approaching His exalted throne. We must be as Esther, who humbly approached the throne of the Persian king, knowing he had the power to have her put to death. The custom of the time was that 'whosoever, whether man or woman, shall come unto the king into the inner court, who is not called, there is one law of his to put him to death, except such to whom the king shall hold out the golden scepter, that he may live' (Esther 4:11). Whether Esther lived or died depended upon whether this king would acknowledge her as she approached him.
Elohim is greater than any king! Yet, He has no rules about who may approach Him. Although infinitely greater than any worldly king, His golden scepter is continually held out, inviting us to come to Him, for he giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not (James 1:5). Still, there should be no casualness, no flippancy, no triteness about the communication. Those who appear before royalty always acknowledge their superiority, choosing their words carefully and respectfully. The same reverence should be shown when approaching the Father of the King of Kings, for it is our privilege to approach him without the fear of reproach or punishment-even when we deserve to be punished!
Juan A. Uceda
Jesus invites us to “pray always” (D&C 10:5). Jesus knows that our Heavenly Father hears and gives what is best for us. Why is it that sometimes we don’t want to receive? Why?
At the very moment we say, “Father in Heaven,” He hears our prayers and is sensitive to us and our needs. And so His eyes and His ears are now connected to you. He reads our minds, and He feels our hearts. You cannot hide anything from Him. Now, the wonderful thing is that He will see you with eyes of love and mercy—love and mercy that we cannot fully understand. But love and mercy are with Him the very moment you say, “Father in Heaven.”
So a moment of prayer is a very, very sacred moment. He is not one to say, “No, I will not listen to you now because you only come to me when you are in trouble.” Only men do that. He is not one to say, “Oh, you cannot imagine how busy I am now.” Only men say that.
That we all may pray as Jesus has taught us to pray is my hope and my prayer in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, amen. (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2016/10/the-lord-jesus-christ-teaches-us-to-pray?lang=eng)
David O. McKay
"'Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name . . .' Hallow --to make holy -- to hold in reverence.
'Reverence,' wrote Ruskin, 'is the noblest state in which a man can live in the world. Reverence is one of the signs of strength; irreverence one of the surest indications of weakness. No man will rise high who jeers at sacred things. The fine loyalties of life must be reverenced or they will be foresworn in the day of trial.'
"Charles Jefferson, the author of 'The Character of Jesus' writes: 'Men in many circles are clever, interesting, brilliant, but they lack one of the three dimensions of life. They have no reach upward. Their conversation sparkles, but it is frivolous and often flippant. Their talk is witty, but the wit is often at the expense of high and sacred things.'" (Conference Reports, Oct. 1950, p. 164)
Bruce R. McConkie
"How glorious it is to address such a holy and exalted person by the greatest of all titles, Father, and to be privileged to have audience with him on our own invitation, anytime we pray in faith with all the strength and energy of our souls!" (The Mortal Messiah, Book 2, p. 151)
Matt 6:10 Thy will be done
David O. McKay
Why pray for the Kingdom of God to come unless you have in your heart a desire and a willingness to aid in its establishment? Praying for His will to be done and then not trying to live it, gives you a negative answer at once. You would not grant something to a child who showed that attitude towards a request he is making of you. If we pray for the success of some cause or enterprise, manifestly we are in sympathy with it. It is the height of disloyalty to pray for God's will to be done, and then fail to conform our lives to that will. (Pathways to Happiness [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1957], 226.)
Matt 6:10 Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven
"When I reflect that in heaven there is a perfect union of spirit and feeling among the celestial throng,--when I reflect that in that happy place there is no disunion one with another--no different views, but that all will have the same mind and feeling in regard to the things of God; and then reflect that the day is to come when the same order of things is to be established here upon the earth; and then look at the present condition of mankind, I am constrained to acknowledge that there must be a great revolution on the earth. Where are there two men abroad in the world that see eye to eye--that have the same view in regard to doctrine and principle--that are of the same mind? They can scarcely be found. I doubt whether they can be found in the world.
"How is it among us, the Latter-day Saints?...I will say many of them: they do actually, in the great fundamental principles of the doctrine of Jesus Christ, see eye to eye. I cannot suppose that in our infancy and childhood we can attain to all this great perfection in a moment, and be brought to see and understand alike. But there is one great heavenly standard or principle? It is the restoration of the holy Priesthood, the living oracles of God, to the earth; and that Priesthood, dictated, governed, and directed by the power of revelation, through the gift of the Holy Ghost,--that is the standard to which all the Latter-day Saints and the kingdom of God must come, in order to fulfil the prophecy I have read in your hearing." (Journal of Discourses, 7:371)
Francis M. Lyman
"What a splendid condition would obtain among the Latter-day Saints today, what an improvement there would be among us, if we were to do the will of our Father as it is in heaven! It is possible for us to do the will of our Father. We know what His will is, and we beseech our Father that we may do His will as His will is done in heaven; and when we pray with faith we will be enabled to live up to that prayer and that petition, and this should be the endeavor of every member of this Church. Our thoughts should be brought to that point upon every occasion when we approach the Lord, that his will in us may be done as it is done in heaven." (Collected Discourses 1886-1898, ed. by Brian Stuy, vol. 2, Francis M. Lyman, Oct. 6, 1895)
Matt 6:11 Give us this day our daily bread
Are we to sit in perpetual idleness and ask the Lord to give us our daily bread? Are we to think that our food is His responsibility, that if we are hungry, it is His fault? As with all blessings, those of temporal prosperity come only after diligence and obedience, but we should pray as Alma counseled:
Joseph F. Smith
"The Latter-day Saints possess that spirit [of revelation]; they know how to approach the Lord... when the Lord has blest us in our labors, crowned our efforts with success, and we have laid up, in store, In abundance of bread, we are not so inconsistent as to repeat the Lord's prayer: 'Give us this day our daily bread.' We do not have to do it, but we thank Him daily for the bread we have. We thank Him for the blessings that we enjoy, and we acknowledge His goodness and mercy in bestowing upon us the blessings that we possess. But we do not have to repeat the Lord's prayer, every day, which was given to His ministry, the apostles in ancient times when they were sent out like lambs in the midst of wolves, and He taught them that they were not to take thought of what they should eat or what they should drink, or wherewithal they should be clothed; that the Lord would feed them; that the Lord would open the hearts of those they ministered unto, to provide for their necessities. Go, and when you pray, pray for what you need. What did they need? Bread, bread for this day. 'Give us this day our daily bread; leave us not in temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Thine is the power, and the kingdom, and the glory, forever and ever.' Our ministers pray this prayer when they are out in the world depending upon the Lord for His goodness, and guidance; but when they are at home with their houses supplied with all that is needful, and their granaries full, and all else that they need, then, instead of saying, 'Oh Lord give us this day our daily bread' we say, 'Oh Lord, we thank Thee for what Thou hast given us; bless it to our good, and help us to make a wise and proper use of it.' That is the way the Latter-day Saints pray." (Conference Report, April 1912, 7 - 8.)
Matt 6:12 forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors
James E. Talmage
"Forgiveness is too precious a pearl to be cast at the feet of the unforgiving; and, without the sincerity that springs from a contrite heart, no man may justly claim mercy. If others owe us, either in actual money or goods as suggested by debts and debtors, or through some infringement upon our rights included under the broader designation as a trespass, our mode of dealing with them will be taken into righteous account in the judgment of our own offenses." (Jesus the Christ, p. 224)
Matt 6:13 lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil
Although the Joseph Smith translation does not include this change, Joseph Smith taught that a better rendition of this verse is "leave us not in temptation." (Andrus, They Knew the Prophet, p. 87)
James E. Talmage
"The first part of this petition has occasioned comment and question. We are not to understand that God would ever lead a man into temptation except, perhaps, by way of wise permission, to test and prove him, thereby affording him opportunity of overcoming and so of gaining spiritual strength ...The intent of the supplication appears to be that we be preserved from temptation beyond our weak powers to withstand; that we be not abandoned to temptation without the divine support that shall be as full a measure of protection as our exercise of choice will allow.
"How inconsistent then to go, as many do, into the places where the temptations to which we are most susceptible are strongest; for the man beset with a passion for strong drink to so pray and then resort to the dramshop; for the man whose desires are lustful to voice such a prayer and then go where lust is kindled; for the dishonest man, though he say the prayer, to then place himself where he knows the opportunity to steal will be found! Can such souls as these be other than hypocrites in asking God to deliver them from the evils they have sought? Temptation will fall in our way without our seeking, and evil will present itself even when we desire most to do right; for deliverance from such we may pray with righteous expectation and assurance." (Jesus the Christ, p. 225)
Matt 6:15 if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses
Thomas S. Monson
"'Blame keeps wounds open. Only forgiveness heals!' (O Pioneers! By Willa Cather). Recently I read where an elderly man disclosed at the funeral of his brother, with whom he had shared, from early manhood, a small, one room cabin near Canisteo, New York, that following a quarrel, they had divided the room in half with a chalk line and neither had crossed the line nor spoken a word to the other since that day-sixty-two years before! What a human tragedy-all for the want of mercy and forgiveness....'He [who] cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass if he would ever reach heaven; for everyone has need to be forgiven'" (Ensign, May 1995, pp. 59-60 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 423)
Jeffrey R. Holland
"Life is too short to be spent nursing animosities or in keeping a box score of offenses against us...We don't want God to remember our sins, so there is something fundamentally wrong in our relentlessly trying to remember those of others. When we have been hurt, undoubtedly God takes into account what wrongs were done to us and what provocations there are for our resentments, but clearly the more provocation there is and the more excuse we can find for our hurt, all the more reason for us to forgive and be delivered from the destructive hell of such poisonous venom and anger. It is one of those ironies of godhood that in order to find peace, the offended as well as the offender must engage the principle of forgiveness." (Ensign, Nov. 1996, p. 83 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 423)
Matt 6:17 when thou fastest, anoint thy head, and wash thy face
Dallin H. Oaks
"The Savior's commandments on the mental attitudes that should accompany prayer and fasting, like the Beatitudes and other teachings of this supreme sermon, establish an exquisitely difficult standard for mortals. As F. W. Farrar observed in his great work The Life of Christ (London: Cassell & Co., Ltd., 1874):
"It is easy to be a slave to the letter, and difficult to enter into the spirit; easy to obey a number of outward rules, difficult to enter intelligently and self-sacrificingly into the will of God; easy to entangle the soul in a network of petty observances, difficult to yield the obedience of an enlightened heart; easy to be haughtily exclusive, difficult to be humbly spiritual; easy to be an ascetic or a formalist, difficult to be pure, and loving, and wise, and free; easy to be a Pharisee, difficult to be a disciple; very easy to embrace a self-satisfying and sanctimonious system of rabbinical observances, very difficult to love God with all the heart, and all the might, and all the soul, and all the strength. (Page 469, quoted in Bruce R. McConkie, The Mortal Messiah [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1980], 3:232.)" (Pure in Heart, p. 25)
Harold B. Lee
"Now we have some parallels to that today. We have men in the political field, for example, who have announced how much tithing they paid the previous year as a sort of political boon to their candidacy. This is supposed to be a carefully concealed matter, but these politicians publicize it for the purpose of gaining favor among Church people who would be impressed by the amount and the faithfulness of their so-called tithing. We have the spectacle of certain politicians, who, when they are going to church, whatever denomination it may be, notify the photographers and the press that they are going to church that morning, so they will publish all over the country the fact that they have gone to church. That always sounds good to the Christian people.
"We have people who pray in private places and then publicize the fact that they pray. We sometimes are more concerned about publicizing ward teaching and sacrament meeting attendance for the sake of comparative statistics than in improving the spiritual qualities of our performance. We sometimes in some places publicize convert baptisms to make a record rather than concern ourselves principally with the salvation of human souls. I fancy the Master, if he were among us, would say of all such, and I am talking of members of the Church who do things like this, 'Moreover when you fast, when you pray, when you worship, when you pay tithing, when you do your ward teaching, attend sacrament meeting, when you baptize, be not as the hypocrites. Verily, if you publicize it and dramatize it you have your reward already.'" (BYU Speeches of the Year, April 19, 1961, 3)
Matt 6:19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth
The scriptures clearly tell us that we need to be careful not to lay up for ourselves treasures upon earth. This may be particularly hard to do in a society which places so much importance on riches and the vain things of this world (Alma 4:8). The Lord's 1831 warning still seems to apply, Now, I, the lord, am not well pleased with the inhabitants of Zion, for...they also seek not earnestly the riches of eternity, but their eyes are full of greediness (DC 68:31). The parable of the rich man is instructive:
Dallin H. Oaks
"In descending order of intensity, materialism may be an obsession, a preoccupation, or merely a strong interest. Whatever its degree, an interest becomes materialism when it is intense enough to override priorities that should be paramount.
"From the emphasis given to this subject in the scriptures, it appears that materialism has been one of the greatest challenges to the children of God in all ages of time. Greed, the ugly face of materialism in action, has been one of Satan's most effective weapons in corrupting men and turning their hearts from God.
"In the first of the Ten Commandments, accepted as fundamental religious law by Christians and Jews alike, God commands: 'Thou shalt have no other gods before me' (Exodus 20:3)...The first commandment is a comprehensive prohibition against the pursuit of any goal or priority ahead of God. The first commandment prohibits materialism...the treasures of our hearts--our priorities--should not be the destructible and temporary things of this world.
"...Another lesson on materialism is taught in the example of the follower who asked the Savior what he should do to 'inherit eternal life.' After this questioner represented that he had kept all the commandments from his youth, the Savior said: 'One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.' When the follower heard this, 'he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.' Seeing this, Jesus said, 'How hard it is for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!' (Mark 10:17,21,22,24).
"This man's failing was not his possession of riches but his attitude toward them...
"When we place our trust in our property, we have 'carnal security.' In that state of mind we are inclined to say that all must be well with us and with Zion because we are prospering, thus relying on worldly success as a mark of divine favor. He who does this is an easy mark for being led 'carefully down to hell.'" (Pure in Heart, pp. 73-79)
Matt 6:20 lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven
Bruce R. McConkie
"While yet on earth men may lay up treasures in heaven. These treasures, earned here and now in mortality, are in effect deposited to our eternal bank account in heaven where eventually they will be reinherited again in immortality. Treasures in heaven are the character, perfections, and attributes which men acquire by obedience to law. Thus, those who gain such attributes of godliness as knowledge, faith, justice, judgment, mercy, and truth, will find these same attributes restored to them again in immortality. (Alma 41:13-15.) 'Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.' (D. & C. 130:18.)" (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:239)
"Whenever I see the hungry and feed him, the naked and clothe him, the sick and distressed and administer to their wants I feel that I am laying up treasure in heaven. When I am educating my children and embellishing their minds and fitting them for usefulness, I am laying up treasures in heaven. I would ask that little boy, who is well educated and well trained, 'What thief can enter in and steal the knowledge you have got?' It is beyond the power of the thief to steal, it is out of his reach, that treasure is laid up in heaven, for where is there a place more sacred than the hearts of the rising generation which beat with purity, and with love to their parents, and with love to God and his kingdom? What better place can you find in which to deposit treasures than that? But all our obligations are not pointing to one source or quarter, there are many ways in which we can lay up treasures in heaven by doing good here on the earth." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 17, p. 11)
Matt 6:22 if...thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light
Eye movements are controlled by some of the smallest, most well-controlled muscles in the human body. Almost imperceptible contractions of these muscles make incredibly large changes in the visual landscape. This analogy is particularly effective, because it is so difficult to keep our eyes focused on one thing. It takes no effort to take a quick glance to the right or left. Yet, in the microsecond that we let our eyes wander, our mind can be filled with all sorts of evil. Like racehorses, we need to keep these muscles finely tuned to the finish line; we need blinders to block out the many worldly distractions which are always pestering us from the periphery.
Certainly, of all the skills we need to learn in mortality, keeping our eyes on the prize requires the greatest self-discipline. Accordingly, it provides the greatest reward:
Therefore, sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, and the days will come that you shall see him; for he will unveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will.' (DC 88:67-68)
Gordon B. Hinckley
"If you concentrate on the work of the Lord, if you give it everything you have, your whole body shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you. Gone will be the darkness of sin. Gone will be the darkness of laziness. Gone will be all of these negative things. That's the word of the Lord to you and to me." (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, "Missionary Service, Full-time")
"Have you that control and dominion over your own minds that they cannot be caught away by anything that is foreign to the purpose or object that engages your attention? For instance, while we call upon the Lord for his blessings, is it not sometimes the case that we think the old ox may be in the stackyard? Do we not sometimes think we shall be cheated here, and lose that amount of money there? If you have never been aware of this, when you go home and pray again, see if you have power to control your mind and keep it from wandering on something else. Until we discipline our minds, and have the complete control of them, we cannot make that advancement that we ought.
"If we cannot discipline and control our own minds, how can we discipline and control kingdoms, nations, tongues, and people?
"Suppose any of you mechanics erect a mill, and the stream is a small one-though, if properly and economically applied, it would be quite sufficient to drive the machinery you wish it to; but instead of the water being properly confined to exert the greatest amount of power, it is spread all over the face of the land;--has it that amount of force to drive the machinery that it otherwise would have? No. But conduct the water through a narrow channel, and apply it properly on the wheel, then your machinery rolls. It is just so with our minds: when they are scattered on different objects, when we are calling upon the name of the Lord, there is no power in that mind. Why? Because the eye is not single. 'If thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.' Again: The agent steam possesses great power when confined and properly applied to shafts and wheels. But let the boiler explode and the steam pass into the atmosphere, what power is there then in that agent? None. Confine it, and it is as it were an almighty power, or it is a portion of almighty power drawn out of the elements that surround us. So it is with the mind: let it be concentrated and applied to any subject, and it has great power. 'If thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.' (Journal of Discourses, 7:152)
"If thine eye were single, thou mightest sometimes see through the vail." (Journal of Discourses, 7:153)
Matt 6:24 No man can serve two masters
"They who love and serve God with all their hearts rejoice evermore...But they who try to serve God and still cling to the spirit of the world, have got on two yokes-the yoke of Jesus and the yoke of the devil...They will have a warfare inside and outside, and the labor will be very galling, for they are directly in opposition one to the other. Cast off the yoke of the enemy, and put on the yoke of Christ, and you will say that his yoke is easy and his burden is light. This I know by experience." (Journal of Discourses 16:123 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 425)
Spencer W. Kimball
"One man I know of was called to a position of service in the Church, but he felt that he couldn't accept because his investments required more attention and more of his time than he could spare for the Lord's work. He left the service of the Lord in search of Mammon, and he is a millionaire today. But I recently learned an interesting fact: if a man owns a million dollars worth of gold at today's prices, he possesses approximately one 27-billionth of all the gold that is present in the earth's thin crust...The Lord who created and has power over all the earth created many other earths as well, even 'worlds without number' (Moses 1:33); and when this man received the oath and covenant of the priesthood (DC 84:33-44), he received a promise from the Lord of 'all that my Father hath' (v. 38). To set aside all these great promises in favor of a chest of gold and a sense of carnal security is a mistake in perspective of colossal proportions. To think that he has settled for so little is a saddening and pitiful prospect indeed." (Ensign, June 1976, p. 5 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 425)
Neal A. Maxwell
'Some would never sell Jesus for thirty pieces, but they would not give Him their all either! Unfortunately, we tend to think of consecration only in terms of property and money. But there are so many ways of keeping back part. One might be giving of money and time and yet hold back a significant portion of himself...One might accept a Church calling but have his heart more set on maintaining a certain role in the world...Each of us is an innkeeper who decides if there is room for Jesus! Consecration is the only surrender which is also a victory. It brings release from...selfishness and emancipation from the dark prison of pride...Consecration may not require giving up worldly possessions so much as being less possessed by them...Brother and sisters, whatever we embrace instead of Jesus and His work will keep us from qualifying to enter His kingdom and therefore from being embraced by Him." (Ensign, Nov. 1992, pp. 66-67 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 424)
Matt 6:25 Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink
Bruce R. McConkie
"...a special rule applies to those who are called to go into the world ... and preach the gospel. For the time and season of their missionary service they are to have no concern about business enterprises or temporal pursuits. They are to be free of the encumbering obligations that always attend those who manage temporal affairs. Their whole attention and all of their strength and talents are to be centered on the work of the ministry, and they have the Father's promise that he will look after their daily needs." (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:243.)
"We have been permitted to come here to go to school, to acquire certain knowledge and take a number of tests to prepare us for greater things hereafter. This whole life, in fact, is 'a state of probation' (2 Nephi 2:21). While we are at school our generous patron has provided us with all the necessities of living that we will need to carry us through. Imagine, then, that at the end of the first school year your kind benefactor pays the school a visit. He meets you and asks you how you are doing. 'Oh,' you say, 'I am doing very well, thanks to your bounty.' 'Are you studying a lot?' 'Yes, I am making good progress.' 'What subjects are you studying?' 'Oh, I am studying courses in how to get more lunch.' 'You study that? All the time?' 'Yes. I thought of studying some other subjects. Indeed I would love to study them-some of them are so fascinating!-but after all it's the bread-and-butter courses that count. This is the real world, you know. There is no free lunch.' 'But my dear boy, I'm providing you with that right now.' 'Yes, for the time being, and I am grateful-but my purpose in life is to get more and better lunches; I want to go right to the top-the executive suite, the Marriott lunch.'
"...I once had a university fellowship for which I had to agree not to accept any gainful employment for the period of a year-all living necessities were supplied: I was actually forbidden to work for lunch. Was it free lunch? I never worked so hard in my life-but I never gave lunch a thought. I wasn't supposed to. I was eating only so that I could do my work; I was not working only so that I could eat. And that is what the Lord asks us: to forget about lunch, and do his work, and the lunch will be taken care of." (Approaching Zion, p. 211-12)
Matt 6:28 Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow
David O. McKay
"'. . . Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.' (Matthew 6:28-29.)
"I have heard skeptics, guided by their reason, say, 'How foolish, how impractical that injunction is!' And I say to them, all right. Let us consider the lily in the field. It is buried in the ground with a root, which strikes out in the darkness to receive strength and moisture from the soil; and soon a stalk pushes its way through the earth, and pushes it up and up until finally the lily blooms in the sunshine and produces its kind.
"So man lives on the earth. His tentacles are his hands; his nervous system, his brain. From the earth he produces his living. For what purpose? That he, too, might realize the ideal-not the gratification of the appetite; not the gratification of passions; but that the spirit might move in the sunshine of the Holy Ghost; that he might be, as Peter said, a "partaker of the divine nature.'" (Man May Know for Himself: Teachings of President David O. McKay, compiled by Clare Middlemiss, 104.)
Matt 6:33 seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness
In the world we live in, investors spend countless hours determining which stocks are most undervalued and profitable. Everyone searches for the investment which will bring a big return. But the greatest of all investments is to trust in the Lord. No stock pays better dividends. No investment portfolio is as well-balanced. Nothing provides a better tax-shelter.
But there's always a catch! The Lord doesn't want us to buy just a few shares of his kingdom. If you want the big return, you have to put all your eggs in His basket, and that takes a lot of faith. When we fail to seek his kingdom first, it is because we lack faith-we really don't trust him. Maybe we believe in Him but we don't really believe what He says. The other requirement is to exclude all distractions-the eye has to be single, there can be no other master, the concerns over food, clothing, and shelter must become secondary. But the Lord is able to make good his promises. The word of the Lord to his share-holders is as follows:
And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea more.' (DC 78:17-19).
Robert E. Wells
"As I travel around the stakes of Latin America, I am impressed with the lives and dedication of the Saints. Even in the midst of political and economic problems, those who put the kingdom first and who serve faithfully are prospering more than the people around them. In one country the amount of tithing contributions doubled recently, but with only a few more full-tithe payers than before. The gross national product per capita was decreasing, but the incomes of Saints who paid their tithing were doubling. They were placing the kingdom first, and the Lord was blessing them." (The Mount & the Master, p. 161)
"When I think of what our people do in this Church without having to be paid with money for what they do, I know that it is a tremendous thing. You take the General Authorities here on the stand. When they were called to be General Authorities, there was nothing said to them about whether they would receive an allowance to live on. I remember when I was back in Washington, just after President Benson was called to be a member of the Twelve and he had not yet been out West to be ordained and set apart. I was then the Presiding Bishop and attended his stake conference. And he said: 'Bishop, will there be any provision that we will have a living while we are serving as General Authorities of the Church?' And I said: 'Well, there will be a little allowance. But,' I said, 'you will have to live differently than you have done back here unless you have got a little bit tucked away!' I happen to know of an offer that was made to him while he was in the Department of Agriculture that, in those days, was a tremendous offer; and he passed that by to come back here to be a member of the Quorum without any assurance that he would have an allowance given to him.
"I think of when President Tanner was called to be one of the General Authorities. President McKay told us that he was in line to become the prime minister of Canada and that he was at the head of several great industrial organizations in Canada. I am sure that if he were to stand here now, he would tell you that when President McKay asked him to be one of the General Authorities, he did not discuss with him anything about an allowance that he would receive.
"I could go on down, and each one of these men could tell you how they gave up their businesses and their professions, and why did they do it? Because they had received the gift of the Holy Ghost that made it possible for them to do what Jesus advised: 'Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you' (Matt. 6:33)." (Conference Report, Oct. 1979)
Matt 6:34 Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof
The word, "evil," is used in this phrase to mean the troublesome, annoying, problems of everyday life. In the Matthew version, it reads, sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. In other words, every day brings enough problems that we don't need to waste our time worrying about the problems of tomorrow or the next day. We should live in the present and concern ourselves with today's issues. Within reason, we are to live life one day at a time.
Next, we should review how the text was changed for the Nephi version (3 Ne 13:34). It reads, 'sufficient is the day unto the evil thereof.' Notice that the placement of the words, "is" and "unto" are switched. This approach is more optimistic. It focuses on the sufficiency of the day not the sufficiency of the evil. In other words, the Lord provides us with enough time and means to effectively deal with all of our problems. The key for us is to learn to live life without worrying about every pothole in the road.
This is such practical advice! Some have perfected worrying to a science. Others have fashioned it into an art form. Yet, worrying doesn't solve any problems. It just raises blood pressure, hardens arteries, and shortens lifespans. In the eternal scheme of things, the small things are not worth the sweat and tears we waste on them.
"It's basic to realize that we don't run things. We are not in control. We can't make people do anything, and so we have nothing to lose. So don't get flustered and don't worry. Your Heavenly Father is in control." (Brother Brigham challenges the Saints, p. 462)
Harold B. Lee
"...the only day you have to worry about is today. There is nothing you can do about yesterday except repent. That means if you made mistakes yesterday, don't be making them today. Don't worry about tomorrow, because you may have no tomorrows. This is the masterpiece you ought to be thinking about today. And if you can always witness honestly that whatever you did, you did to the best of your ability, and next day try improvement on that, when your life's end comes, of you it can be said in truth, his was a successful life because he lived to the best that was in him. That's all the Lord expects of any one of His children. We are all born with different capacities, some to do one thing, some to do the other, and all He asks is that we do our best; and that's the measure by which we'll be judged when that time comes." (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, p. 64-5)