The Lesson of Discipleship and the Considerations Involved

Bible Book: Matthew  6 : 1-18
Subject: Discipleship
Series: Discipleship

In “Becoming A Christ-Centered Disciple-Making Church” Let’s Consider...

“3. The Lesson Of Discipleship And The Considerations Involved”

Text: Matthew 6:1-18

Theme – Purpose - Introduction

Theme: We’re dealing with the theme, “Becoming A Christ-Centered, Disciple-Making Church,” from the “Sermon on the Mount” found in Matthew 5 thru 7. Thus far in these lessons of discipleship we have looked at “The Cost Involved” in being a disciple, and “The Consecration Involved” in being a disciple. Today we’re looking at “The Considerations Involved” in being a disciple of the Lord Jesus.

Purpose: In Matthew 6:1-18, Jesus engraves upon the Christian consciousness three truths to follow. These three things are spiritual disciplines that every disciple should consider and then incorporate into their lives. In the text Jesus deals with the spiritual disciplines of giving, praying, and fasting. Our intention in this sermon is to explain these aspects of discipleship and then to urge every believer to willingly apply these principles into our daily Christian experience.

Introduction: If you and I are to be disciples in a church that is making disciples of others, there are many things to consider from many New Testament texts; but let’s confine our thoughts to Matthew chapter 6. This chapter begins with the words, “Take heed.” This is a single Greek word that means, “pay attention to.” This spotlight is first pointed at giving or “alms” in verses 1 thru 4. The word “and” in verse 5 tells us that the “take heed” spotlight is still shining upon prayer in verses 5 thru 15. Furthermore, or as verse 16 says, “moreover,” we are to “take heed” or pay attention to fasting in verses 16 thru 18. The great commentator Matthew Henry wrote, “Prayer comes in between almsgiving and fasting, as being the life and soul of both.” It should also be noted that in all three of these spiritual disciplines, Christ teaches us that hypocrisy is to be avoided.

The Christian philosopher Dallas Willard said, “People who think that they are spiritually superior because they make a practice of a discipline such as fasting... are entirely missing the point. The need for extensive practice of a given discipline is an indication of our weakness, not our strength.” I don’t believe any of us could claim to be strong and proficient in the areas of giving and praying and fasting. Let us glean then from the truth that Christ revealed concerning these things.

Main Message

A. Let’s Consider The Attitude Of Giving

We first need to understand the significance associated with alms. In some texts, alms are described as something you do, and in others they are described as something you give. What then are alms? The term “alms” is best defined as a charitable deed or gift. The doing and the giving are based upon an attitude of compassion. Notice the secrecy associated with alms. “Alms” are not to be done “before men” (vs. 1). We’re not to “sound a trumpet” (vs. 2) or let our “left hand know what thy right hand doeth” (vs. 3), “that thine alms may be in secret” (vs. 4). Giving should not glorify the giver, but God. Charity is not without reward though, for the “Father which seeth in secret Himself shall reward thee openly” (vs. 4).

B. Let’s Consider The Act Of Praying

The second and central truth that Jesus deals with is prayer, and He mentioned the privacy involved in our prayers. “Enter into thy closet,” and “shut thy door,” and “pray to thy Father” (vs. 6). To avoid the visible rewards that the hypocrites expect and the vain repetitions that the heathen employ, our praying is to have a secret and simple quality. Verses 9 thru 13 have been called “The Lord’s Prayer,” but it’s really a model in which Jesus offers an outline of prayer. The pattern involved in our prayers includes the reverence found in verse 9 as we pray, “Hallowed be thy name.” We also bring our requests to God in verses 11 and 12. Then, we’re mindful of righteousness as we pray, “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (vs. 13).



C. Let’s Consider The Abstinence Of Fasting

The Pharisees would “fast twice in the week” (Luke 18:12) so they could appear to be righteous. David manifested the real benefit in fasting though when he said, “I humbled my soul with fasting” (Psalms 35:13). As Matthew Henry wrote, “Fasting is here put last, because it is not so much a duty for its own sake, as a means to dispose us for other duties.” Fasting brings us into a realm of devotion and dependence upon God. Finally, Jesus endorsed the righteous behavior in fasting by saying, “when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; that thou appear not unto men to fast” (vs. 17-18).



For over 25 years, the book Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster has been a classic on the subject of the spiritual disciplines. Foster offers a word of caution when he says that “to know the mechanics does not mean that we are practicing the Disciplines. The Spiritual Disciplines are an inward and spiritual reality, and the inner attitude of the heart is far more crucial than the mechanics for coming into the reality of the spiritual life.”

As Foster indicated, it’s more important that we be spiritual disciples than that we do superficial deeds. Being involved in giving and praying and fasting doesn’t make us disciples, but we do these things because we are disciples of Jesus. These spiritual disciplines are areas in which we submit ourselves to the truth that Christ has revealed. And in the doing of these things we find a deeper relationship with our Lord.