Your Attitude Toward God
Verses 1-3 Foolish and Wise Prayers
People are under the false believe that we can earn God’s grace. They carry this falsehood into their prayer life. They try to convince God that they are better than the people who might be next to them, or the people who are not in the Church, and certainly they are better than the common sinner. Maybe they do this to convince God that they deserve His help and support. They are like the Pharisee that Jesus spoke of in the Gospel of Luke. (Luke 18:11-12) Maybe they think that a long and wordy prayer with expensive gifts will gain His favor. (Micah 6:6-8)
When we realize our true state before God we are humbled. When we realize that we are all disobedient people then we realize that we do not deserve any kindness from Him. (Romans 3:23) We are to present ourselves pure before the Lord and this requires confession and repentance. Then we can approach God with thanksgiving because of His great mercy towards us. Then we can petition the Lord for our needs that His name may be glorified. (Luke 18:13-14)
In the Scriptures we are often warned of having a proud attitude. Our prayers should always be in humility. We are but men kneeling before an Almighty God. A reverent fear is the beginning of the knowledge of the Lord and we should enter His courts of prayer with respect. Prayer is a conversation with God our Creator and requires speech and listening. All too often people do not wait upon the Lord and listen to what He says. And when He speaks we are to follow in obedience.
Our prayers should have the right attitudes. A right attitude is far greater than the words we speak. God already knows what we will ask of Him and He knows what we need. (Matthew 6:8)
God is the one and true God and when we pray we should pray in faith and trust Him more than rambling off many useless words. (Mark 11:23-24) Long prayers are often offered for the wrong reasons. (Matthew 6:7; Mark 12:40) Then there are times that the need for a long prayer exist. (Mark 1:35; Acts 1:14) Those who have a close relationship with the Lord pray constantly and their prayers please God. (Luke 18:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:17)
Verses 4-7 Promises to God
People should never try to control God. They promise to give a generous gift if He helps them. This act is trying to bribe God. This is the same manner that people behave towards a false god. Others offer gifts to God with the proper intentions. This is an expression of their thanks and love for God.
In Jerusalem the people gave their gifts to God at His house the Temple. Most of the people lived a long way from the house of God and could not go there often. When they waited to give a gift they made a promise. When they did go to Jerusalem they would present their gifts in the Temple.
Vows made to God matter to Him. This is especially true when the promise is to give gifts to Him. As soon as the people made the promise God accepted the gift. Therefore the gift already belongs to God and the giver has a duty to give it. (Leviticus 27:9-10)
Jesus was probably thinking of the words in Ecclesiastes 5:5 when He spoke the words in Matthew 5:33-34. Jesus also warned the people about making vows to God. It is better to make no promise than to make a promise you cannot keep. The trouble is that people do not think about their duties to God. We owe God for everything that we have. We owe God for our very lives and our life belongs to Him. People should not make a promise to God when they will not live for Him in faith and trust. God does not want our gifts, God wants our obedience to His Word.
Verses 8-9 Responsibilities Towards the Poor People
We see here two types of workers. Some people use their physical strength to work. These people are often poor and must work harder to make ends meet. These workers include the farm workers who provide the food that all need to eat. The other group are those who organize the work. In society their work is necessary as well. Without good leaders the people will struggle even to provide the food for their own families. All work requires organization.
In the second group of workers we see the government officials, judges, and even the king. If these workers are wise, then wealth will come to the nation and everyone will benefit. But these officials often use their position to benefit themselves with greater wealth. They may force the poor people to work harder and pay wages that are too low. They may make decisions that are not right and proper. They do these things because they only want to benefit themselves and not the other people.
God cares about all the people but He especially cares about the poor. God has risen up the leaders so that they can look after the poor and the weak. When the powerful and the strong use the poor for their own advantage God becomes angry. These cruel people will have their Day of Judgment and punishment.
Verses 10-12 Love of Money
If the love of your life is money you will never find enough, as the desire for it is never fulfilled. Money itself is not an evil thing but the love of money causes evil to come into the hearts of those who love money. (1 Timothy 6:10) There are many in the world today that money has become the god that they serve. (Matthew 6:24)
The person who desires great possessions maybe able to gain them but he will find in the end they will not benefit him. There is little comfort in possessions as the Jones are always keeping up with. Other people will see what one has and work to acquire them as well. It is a never ending effort to stay ahead. The Apostle Paul tells us that we should learn to be content with what we have. (Philippians 4:11)
The person who loves wealth will never be content with his wealth and the wealth he has will never be safe. When he sleeps at night he will not be able to protect his wealth. When he is awake there will be those who will constantly try to take it from him. Wealth does not always bring a better live. The increase of wealth brings on more worry about their wealth.
Luxury in life does not hold the promise of a good night’s sleep. A poor person sleeps well without the worry that wealth brings upon a person. The poor can find a greater pleasantness in a life free of the worry of wealth and possession.
It is wrong to love money or possessions as it places a false god ahead of the one and true God. We should love God first and love Him with everything we have including our wealth and possessions. (Mark 12:28-34) When we love God and put Him first in our life He will protect us. (Psalm 121) A good night’s sleep is a gift from God that no amount of money can buy. (Psalm 127:2)
Verses 13-17 Things That Lose Their Value
There are those who work their whole life and gain nothing. This is a sad fact and it is not unusual. The truth is we can say this about everyone, as there is nothing in this world that we can take with us. Everything we have labored for in this world we will leave behind when we depart. We came into the world with nothing and we will leave this world with nothing.
Money, wealth, and possessions belong to this world. In both Heaven and Hell these things have no value. Even in this world the money and possessions that we have can lose their value. We can work our whole life through to leave something for our children. Working and saving, gathering and holding, and yet in the end they may be worth nothing. This often happens, it is sad but true.
In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus spoke of these things. (Matthew 6:19-21) Jesus said that we must not think merely about the things of this world. Many things destroy the possessions that we have and thieves can steal them from us. The wealth that we have in this world will not for us ever last. We should keep our perspective on the eternal things were the greater time of our lives will be spent. The only value in our lives is those things that God considers valuable.
The greatest thing of value that we can have in this world is our personal relationship with God. (Matthew 13:44-46) Nothing of value can be lost in Heaven and it will never lose its value.
Verses 18-20 Wrong Reactions to God’s Kindness
The very poor of us work very hard at difficult and unpleasant labor. It is usually low paying and we struggle to make the ends meet. God cares for the poor and often shows His special kindness towards them. As hard as his labors are the person can find joy in his work. In spite of the hard times because of the grace of God he has enough to eat and drink. The man is grateful to the Lord for His kindness as there is always those who do not have enough.
The wealth of the rich really does not have a better life than the poor. The rich have plenty of drink and food. But the rich suffer because of their wrong desires and jealous attitudes. (4:4; 5:10) Their wealth is never satisfying to them and they are ever in need of more.
Sometimes God show special favor to the rich also and the rich can enjoy his wealth. He has learned to be content with the wealth that the Lord has provided him. Because he has a content heart he does not chase after more and more wealth. He is grateful because the Lord has given him contentment.
Too many times people often show a wrong reaction to the kindness of God. They should be grateful for the joy that the Lord has put into their hearts. But they find their joy in the possessions of their life and begin to allow the things of the world give them satisfaction. They forget that soon they will leave this world and face God who will judge them. (3:17) Their happiness is only for a short time while they are in the world.