God’s Kingdom Come
Open Your Bible
Matthew 6:1-18, Matthew 26:36-46, Luke 18:9-14
BY Jen Yokel
Generosity, prayer, and fasting focus our motivations and actions on God’s will and His kingdom.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’s extended teaching on the kingdom of God, there’s a moment where He directs the focus from outward good works to inner motivation. “Don’t be like the hypocrites,” He says—the people who love to be seen giving, heard praying, and noticed for their fasting misery. All of these practices are meaningful, yet He urges the audience to examine their motives and do this work in secret, where “your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:4).
In His parables, Jesus often portrays the kingdom of God as a place of enough, where the Giver of good things makes sure we have everything we need. Could that be true of the approval we crave too?
We live in a world where the scarcity mindset rules. We are tempted to worry about fairness. In our small talk, we field questions about jobs and marital status and children. In our free time, we scroll through social media and play the comparison game, whether we mean to or not. For inspiration, we turn to our favorite influencers for a glimpse of the good life, looking for the home decor, the clothes, the exercise routine that might finally bring us contentment.
But imagine a kingdom where all have enough. Where we don’t have to jockey for position, where we don’t have to announce ourselves to get the affirmation we deeply long for. This is the kingdom of God, where the lowly are raised up, where our smallest offering, given in earnest, is enough. This is true for our outward actions and our spiritual lives.
Later, Jesus tells a story “to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and looked down on everyone else” (Luke 18:9). Two men, a Pharisee and a tax collector, are praying. One is counted among the highest, holiest men in Jewish culture. The other is regarded with a sneer, labeled a sellout to the empire. One prays, “God, I thank you that I’m not like other people—greedy,unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector” (Luke 18:11). The other pleads, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner!” (v.13). Jesus’s point is clear on who went home justified that day (Matthew 26:36–46).
This isn’t to say that all acts of goodness need to be completely secret. Sometimes, the best gift we can give is to pray out loud for a friend in distress. Sometimes welcoming others into our fasting can open the door to mutual strengthening and encouragement. Jesus’s goal is not to heap rules and guilt onto our spiritual lives, but rather invite us to walk with Him, embracing God’s kingdom lifestyle.
In all of this, it’s the motives that matter. When we give, pray, and fast, when we choose to seek God’s approval more than our fellow travelers,’ we open our hands to release the security we cling to and accept God’s provision. We can rest in knowing every need will be met, and in the end, there is more than enough.