True disciples of Jesus Christ do the right things for the right reasons. Being true disciples is discussed in Matthew 6:1–6, 16–21.
Jesus called hypocrites to repentance. Those He accused included those who fast, pray, or give alms for the wrong reasons, mostly to win the praise of men. Jesus counseled us to pray in secret, to fast with a joyful countenance, and to offer our alms privately. If we do these things to win public recognition, then we have our reward. Doing these things because we love the Lord and care for His children on earth, then He will reward us.
Christ also discussed worldly versus heavenly treasures. There is no earthly treasure that cannot be stolen or destroyed. Everything earthly is temporary and corruptible. The Lord has even called them “dead” as they have no power to win us eternal life. Treasures in heaven are eternal and they are far more valuable than anything we can achieve or hoard on earth. We can individually evaluate what we most treasure, since the Lord has said that wherever our treasure is, there will our heart be also. What do we spend our time on? What do we spend most of our time thinking about? That is our treasure, and that treasure can replace God in our worship.
The Lord’s Prayer
Matthew 6:9–13 is the Lord’s prayer, in which Jesus shows us how to pray to the Father. This prayer begins with reverence, respect and gratitude, which, if Jesus showed to His Father, we certainly should. Gratitude is an important aspect of our faith, and we should always express our thanks before making requests. The Lord counsels us against “vain repetitions” in our prayers. That doesn’t mean we can’t pray about the same things every day. Since He tells us to pray over our fields and flocks, those aspects of our lives will need His daily help. But repeating phrases to be heard of men and not to really supplicate the Lord for a real purpose, makes our prayer vain. When something is vain, it is useless.
The Lord knows what we need before we ask for it, but He desires us to pray and ask Him, whether it be for knowledge, wisdom, patience, or safety. Asking is part of the pattern of the gospel. The Lord will not come to us uninvited. The Lord always hears and answers our prayers. Sometimes, He instantly starts the wheels of the mechanism that will eventually bring us the desires of our hearts, but the fruition or result can take many years. One example is an artist who desired to teach at a certain university and began to ask the Lord for that blessing. Nine years later, he was offered the exact position he wanted. In retrospect, he could see that things began to move in that direction when he had first prayed, but it took nine years to put the pieces in place.
In Matthew 6:14–15; 7:1–6, 12 the Lord teaches us to love and forgive others. It is very difficult for us to be righteous judges. We never know enough about other people to fully understand their past trials, their concerns and true desires. If we judge others unrighteously, we will be judged that way by God.
The teaching in Matthew 7:12 is often called the Golden Rule. When Jesus gave the Golden Rule, it was not a new law, but is part of the Law of Moses:
Doing God’s Will
Christ told us it’s impossible to serve both God and Mammon (the world). For those who truly love the Lord, the things of the world become unimportant except to do His work. (See Matthew 6:24.)
Jesus promised that if we “seek … first the kingdom of God,” we will be given all other things that we need (Matthew 6:33).
Christ taught that the way to God is narrow. (See Matthew 7:13–14, 21–23.) In fact, “strait and narrow path” does not mean “straight and narrow path.” Strait is essentially another word for narrow. In the Book of Mormon two prophets had the same dream. Lehi saw himself in a vast wilderness. He beheld a tree with white fruit, symbolizing the love of God, the most desirable thing a person could have. People were trying to reach this tree, holding on to an iron rod representing the word of God. A mist of darkness arose, and only those who held on made it to the goal. Others wandered off and were lost, but the variety of ways, and the variety of paths into the void were numberless. (See 1 Nephi 8.)
At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told the parable of the wise man and the foolish man (Matthew 7:24–27). The wise man built his house upon the firm foundation that is Christ the Lord. His house stood even when storms arose, while he who built his house upon the sand (the world) lost everything. (See Helaman 5:12.)
In Matthew 11:28–30, Christ talks about His “yoke.” A yoke joins two oxen or horses and enables them to pull a wagon. These animals are called “beasts of burden.” Sin and the cares of the world are like a yoke around our own necks. Although many people see living the commandments of Christ as a burden, Christ assures us that His burden is light, and He invites us to trade the yoke of the world for the yoke of the gospel.
Matthew 12:1–13; Luke 13:10–17 tell us that Christ healed on the Sabbath. He taught those who questioned Him that He is the Lord of the Sabbath. The Pharisees had condemned Jesus and His apostles for picking corn on the Sabbath, which was against the Law of Moses. The irony of this is profound, for Christ is the one who gave the law, and that, as a schoolmaster to bring Israel unto Him, their Savior.
*Parts of this article were adapted from the LDS New Testament Gospel Doctrine Manual.