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In Matthew 6.1-18 we read of instructions Christ gives to His disciples on three related duties: giving to the needy, praying, and fasting. In each case He places His main emphasis upon the motive and warns against religious ostentation for the sake of impressing men. With this qualification, He assumes that all His disciples will practice all three of these duties. This is indicated by the language which He uses concerning each.

In verse 2 He says, “When you [singular] give to the needy . . . .” In verse 6 He says, “When you [singular] pray . . .” (in­dividually); and in verse 7, “When you [plural] pray . . (collectively). In verse 16 He says, “When you [plural] fast . . .” (collectively); and in verse 17, “When you [singular] fast” (individually). In no case does Christ say, if, but always when. The inference is clear. Christ expects that allHis disciples will regularly practice all three of these duties. Giving is a private affair you do on your own. Prayer and fasting are activities that are done regularly, both privately and collectively!

Tony Cauchi

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