Did anyone ever speak like Jesus? Would there ever have been a more compelling preacher? A more arresting message? A teaching that would have been burnt more strongly onto the memories of its listeners?
This passage shows us that it is impossible to be neutral about Jesus. It is impossible to pick and choose which parts of Jesus we like and which ones we don’t. We will either come to Jesus on His terms or we will suffer the (eternal) consequences.
Being judgmental is easy: you just criticize everybody and everything that you don’t agree with. Being gullible is easy, too: you just accept everybody and everything. But Jesus doesn’t want us to slide into either ditch; He wants us to be be discerning without being judgemental. And we can only do this with the help of the Holy Spirit Himself.
The point of this passage is not that we should live comfortable little lives free from worry. The point instead is that, freed from worrying about our physical needs, we might spend our lives seeking God's kingdom.
Even though our heavenly treasure won’t get ruined or stolen in heaven, that’s not the ultimate reason that we should store up our treasure there. According to Jesus, we need to store up our treasure in heaven, not on earth, because our hearts chase our treasure. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).
When we pray we are not trying to get the attention of some distant deity who ignores us until we really put on a show. No, when we pray we are talking to our Father who sees us in secret and already knows what we need before we ask Him.
Fasting and prayer are not easy. That’s why the hypocrites loved to show them off. But this passage shows us how this whole principle of “your best life later” applies to the spiritual disciplines. We embrace their difficulty, trusting in our Father's reward in the future.
The level of your obedience to Jesus' teaching is the level to which you believe His promises concerning rewards. “Trust and obey” always go together. If we trust His promises, we will be able to obey in secret. If we don’t believe, then we’ll go around begging for others to notice us.
"Turning the other cheek" and "going the second mile" are great ideas. But Jesus doesn't actually expect us to do them in real life... does He?