“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12)

Why does Jesus suggest asking God to forgive us?

This part of Jesus’ recommended prayer clarifies the relationship between us, the Supreme Being, and the Supreme Being's children - our spiritual family.

Jesus is stipulating that we can directly ask the Supreme Being for forgiveness. That is, forgiveness for our offenses - which also relates to the common phrase, forgiveness for our sins.

Such a notion - asking God directly to forgive us - contradicts the teachings of some who claim the only way our sins can be cleansed - forgiven - is through Jesus' crucifixion.

To be clear, this verse lies within Jesus' recommended prayer to the Supreme Being. This means that Jesus is requesting his students directly ask the Supreme Being for forgiveness.

This clearly means that the Supreme Being can cleanse our sins directly, simply by asking him in prayer. If this weren't so, then Jesus would not have included this in his prayer. He would have stated that all they have to do is accept that he died for their sins and they'd be forgiven. 

But Jesus never said this. He never taught this. That was not part of Jesus' teachings.

Is this about debts, sins or offenses?

The word "debts" here is being translated from the Greek word ὀφείλημα (opheilēma), which means "that which is owed" when referred to literally, but also means "offense, sin" when referred to metaphorically.

This is why other versions have used different translations. The NLT version translates this word to "sins." 

This would mean that Jesus is using terminology that could be interpreted as all of the above - sins, offenses or debts. This is also confirmed by Jesus' following statements in Matthew 6:14-15, which confirm that Jesus is referring to sinning. 

This is also confirmed by the word "forgive" - translated from the Greek word ἀφίημι (aphiēmi) - means "to let go" - refers to forgiving something that has been done against someone.

Jesus is primarily speaking of offenses, which is also what sins or transgressions are: Offenses against the Supreme Being. How so?

Because the Supreme Being is a Person. He is not a vague force or shining light or burning bush. He is a Person who can love and forgive. Only a person can love and forgive.

And the Supreme Being loves each of us unconditionally. He cares for us and wants us to be happy. But we have all but forgotten Him. We have been living our lives while ignoring Him. We've been chasing our self-centered dreams around while we have been forgetting Him and His love for us.

This forgetfulness - this ignoring of the Supreme Being - is offensive.

Let's use an example. Let's say that we have a teenage son whom we care for and have raised and bought all his clothes, and we have fed him and made sure he got to school every day and put a roof over his head and everything else. Suddenly he starts ignoring us. He doesn't even say 'good morning' or 'good night' to us. He acts as though we don't even exist. Then on top of that, he begins doing all the things we have asked him not to do. How would we feel? We would feel insulted, right?

This is almost exactly what we have been doing, and this is how the Supreme Being feels. Yet He still loves us unconditionally and He is always ready to forgive us.

As to the example above with the teenager, what would remedy the situation? If the teenager acknowledged our existence and came to us and asked us to forgive him for ignoring us.

This is what Jesus is recommending to his students: That they - and we - ask the Supreme Being for forgiveness.

What is Jesus' requisite for forgiveness?

Notice that Jesus adds a requisite to this request for forgiveness: That we also forgive others for their offenses against us: "as we also have forgiven our debtors."
“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." (Matthew 6:14-15)
Many of us like to think of the Supreme Being as some sort of magic wand or genie. As if He will deliver whatever we request. That all we have to do is ask and He will deliver without condition. This is absolutely not true.

Rather, the Supreme Being is the Original Person, and He is our Master and Creator. We are thus subservient to Him. He is not our servant. We are His servants.

But the Supreme Being also wants to exchange love. He enjoys loving relationships. And He enjoys being part of others' loving relationships.

For this reason, He is pleased when we acknowledge Him and reach out to Him because He wants to exchange a loving relationship with us. But He is also pleased when we are kind to each other. He is pleased when we care for each other. He is especially pleased when we care for each other because it pleases Him.

These elements - the elements of God's personal side - are typically missed by some institutions that teach of religious activity as something done to achieve a self-centered purpose.

This is because the sermons and teachings of some teachers focus upon what our religious activity will do for us - in order to increase their followers. They promise that worshiping God can make us rich. They promise that worshiping God will heal our sicknesses. They promise that worshiping God will bring us salvation - and escape from hell.

What is the real purpose of worshiping God?

The real purpose of worshiping the Supreme Being is to re-establish our innate loving relationship with Him. It is to resume our natural position as one of His loving servants and friends - rejoining our spiritual family in the spiritual realm.

But this spiritual family is not the type of family where everyone is out for themselves. Where everyone is trying to take advantage of each other. Where the ultimate purpose is to achieve what I want to achieve - self-centeredness.

The spiritual family Jesus wants us to rejoin is the family where everyone is looking to please the Supreme Being. This is a different sort of family. It is a family where the foundation is love.

Just imagine two dinner tables. At one, everyone wants to make sure they get enough to eat. People are grabbing at the food being brought in. As a result, the stronger people get more to eat than the weaker members. And some don't get anything to eat.

At the other dinner table, everyone is wanting to make sure that everyone else has enough to eat. At this table, no one goes hungry. Everyone gets enough to eat.

The first table is like the physical world, where there is scarcity. The second table is like the spiritual realm - where everyone is thinking about each other in relation to the Supreme Being.

This is the environment - the second table - that Jesus is inviting his students to. In such an environment no one would even think of asking forgiveness from the Supreme Being unless they had forgiven others.

This expectation is not a requirement for forgiveness. Certainly, the Supreme Being, who loves us unconditionally, will forgive us of our offenses against Him. But He wants us to also partake in a relationship with the rest of His spiritual family - our spiritual family.

This means immediately forgiving others for their offenses against us - regardless of whether they ask for our forgiveness or not.

By doing that we rejoin our spiritual family, and begin to taste the loving relationships the spiritual realm is made of.

God wants us back. He wants us to resume the relationship we once had with Him and His children. That relationship where we love Him and His children with all our hearts. That relationship where our lives are centered around Him.

How can we build our relationship with God?

According to Jesus' teachings, it is not as if by simply caring for others we will be accomplishing our revived relationship with God. That relationship requires effort.

Every relationship is built upon effort. Effort is what a boy does when he shows up at the girl’s door with a corset before the dance. Effort is what a husband does when he purchases a house that his wife likes, or takes out the trash. Effort is the process of giving and receiving, which builds relationships.

It is this process of effort that is required for us to build our lost relationship with God. When we rejected God we began to look out for our own interests.

Should we seek God's embrace we must rebuild that relationship. This means we have to begin to look out for His interests again. This means finding out what He wants from us and beginning to do those things.

Jesus is clarifying here that the key to rebuilding our relationship with God is love and compassion. Compassion for others and seeking God's compassion for us. 

This is the purpose for prayer to God and the praising of God's Names. These outreach activities focus our attention upon the Supreme Being and our spiritual family.

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13)

What is 'evil'?

The word "evil" here is being translated from the Greek word πονηρός (ponēros), which means, according to Strong's lexicon, "full of labours, annoyances, hardships;" and "bad, of a bad nature or condition." The latter definition is further defined with 1) in a physical sense: diseased or blind; 2) in an ethical sense: evil wicked, bad."

In other words, the appropriate meaning of this word in this context is "wickedness." This is when we do something based upon greed - self-centeredness. This is confirmed by Jesus in the Gospel of Mary:
Peter said to him, “As you have told us regarding everything, teach us about the other one: What is the sin of the world?” The Savior said, “No sin exists outside of you: It is you who makes sin. When you do those things such as adultery, this is called sin." (Gospel of Mary 4-5)
Evil is ultimately born from self-centeredness. And self-centeredness is the core root of evil. Self-centeredness is what causes us to act for our own pleasure. For our own reputation or our own wealth or our own future. Self-centeredness is also the root cause of activities that hurt others. The root of evil is self-centeredness.

What is 'temptation'?

The word "temptation" is being translated from the Greek word  πειρασμός (peirasmos).

The word πειρασμός (peirasmos) means, according to the lexicon, "an experiment, attempt, trial, proving" and "the trial of man's fidelity, integrity, virtue, constancy."

Thus we can see that Jesus is speaking of being tested. And being tested means having a choice. While the word temptation often elicits the notion of responsibility to someone else - as though someone else is tempting us and we are innocent victims, the reality is that the original word relates to being tested. "trial" and "proving" relate directly to this.

And this is elaborated on by "the trial of man's fidelity." In other words, if a married man is presented by a beautiful woman, this might prompt "the trial of a man's fidelity."

And certainly, one might refer to this as the man being tempted. But what it really is, is a test. The man is being tested. His fidelity is being tested.

This is precisely what Jesus is referring to here - being tested - translated to "temptation."

Why are we tested?

And what is the source of being tested - or temptation here? Why are we tested and what will it accomplish?

For example, children are tested in school. Why? Because they are learning. They are tested for their comprehension of the subject. If the teacher didn't test the kids, the teacher wouldn't know whether the kids were learning anything.

But why are we tested? Surely God knows everything. He knows what we know and what we've learned.

Rather, we are tested to show ourselves where we stand. The tests of this world are meant to show us where we are with respect to our expectations.

Whatever we think of ourselves - these will be tested. When these tests arrive, we will have to make a decision that will ultimately test our self-determination and our level of strength.

Ultimately such tests provide clear indications of where we stand.

The goal of being tested is to help us grow. They also let us know that we aren't as strong as we think we are. They let us know we need God's strength. We can't go it alone.

The fundamental basis of being tested is freedom. We were each given the freedom to love God and live for God, or not. Having such freedom necessitates being tested in order to measure where we are.

This is because love requires freedom of choice. A person cannot be forced to love.

And because of this, the Supreme Being constantly gives us the option not to love Him, and to live for ourselves.

Being tested is a manifestation of this freedom. Temptations are testaments to our freedom. If we did not have the freedom not to love God, we would never be given the choice.

How can we survive 'temptation'?

There is no devil standing on our shoulders tempting us. Temptations are simply consequential expressions of the freedom we have with regard to our relationship with Him.

Jesus' teachings tell us that our only sure safety net is to submit ourselves to the Supreme Being. We can take shelter of Him as our only Refuge from the onslaught of materialism and self-centeredness. Only He can help cure our self-centeredness.

The reason we are here in this physical world of testing in the first place is our rejection of our relationship with God. We chose to be independent of Him. That independence has consequences.

 So we landed in the physical world and took on a temporary physical body.

The entire material dimension, including all the tests here, is the result of this primary, original rebellion.

In other words, we brought this situation upon ourselves. We have no one to blame but ourselves, and the decisions we have made in the past. We must now decide whether we are finished with our rebellion or wish to continue it. Every individual test we are faced with measures our current decision: Do we continue our rebellion or submit to Him?

By praying to God that He lead us not into temptation, Jesus is recommending that we take shelter of the Supreme Being as we are being tested. He is confirming that we cannot do this alone. We cannot avoid or pass through the tests of this world without His help.

When we do take refuge in God, we find that God comes to our rescue.

It is from our humble submission to God that we find our refuge from the storms of this world, and uncover His mercy and His unconditional love for us.

This is the meaning of Jesus' prayer, "but deliver us from evil."

“For Yours is the kingdom and the power ..." (Matthew 6:13b)

“For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever, Amen." (Matthew 6:13b)

What does 'Yours is the kingdom and the power' mean?

This final stanza of Jesus' prayer summarizes the position of the Supreme Being compared with our position.

Firstly it describes the simple fact that God owns everything. He is the creator and owner of everything. As such, He is also the rightful enjoyer of everything.

This is communicated by Jesus with the use of the word "kingdom" - which is not referring to a physical 'kingdom' or location as also noted regarding "Your kingdom come."

That reference definition illustrates that the Greek word translated to 'kingdom' actually means "royal power, kingship, dominion, rule" according to Thayer's lexicon. The lexicon clarifies the word is "not to be confused with an actual kingdom but rather the right or authority to rule over a kingdom."

This means that the translation to "kingdom" is quite confusing. A more appropriate translation would be something like "dominion" or "authority."

Aren't we also powerful?

Many of us in the physical world are convinced that this world was created for our pleasure. Many of us believe also that God’s position is to deliver power and authority to us.

Some preach that we should pray to God for anything we want. These teachers promote praying to God for money, a good job, healing my leg, helping my football team win, and any other self-centered thing I am interested in.

While it is good to turn to God when we are in need, it is a perverted form of worship to consider God our waiter or delivery person, so our relationship is based upon Him giving us stuff.

Because this philosophy is seductive, many preach about all the riches we will get - as long as we worship in their church and donate money to them.

Some of these teach that all we have to do is proclaim Jesus die for our sins and we will be healed of our physical problems. And if we want our football team to win we should pray. And if we want more money or a better job we should pray for it.

And some also ask us to pay them to pray for us. Some will ask us to send them our prayer requests (with a check of course) so they will pray for us.

Such teachings are fraudulent. Accept the power of God and Jesus is good. But they are confusing the roles. We are subordinate to God.

Jesus is teaching us that God has the power. He is teaching us that the glory is God’s. God is the enjoyer.

Who serves who?

It is not that God's position is to give us stuff. He is not our servant. He is not our “go-to” guy whenever we want something. He is not at our beck and call, and anything we ask for He fetches.

And this is why many people's prayers go unanswered. People don't get what they ask for unless they deserve it. Unless they've worked for it and their efforts are rewarded.

Yes, sometimes God will do what we ask of Him when the submission is made humbly and sincerely by someone who cares about the Supreme Being.

For such cases, the overall intention is to serve the Supreme Being. So these requests are not the same as those coming from pure self-centeredness.

Why should we pray then?

Certainly, God does love us and He will accommodate us whether we ask or not. This is the ultimate in unconditional love. And certainly, we can know that every benefit we get here in this world, as well as every challenge and lesson, ultimately comes from Him.

But this is not what Jesus wants us to use prayer for. A prayer is a communication. It is like picking up the phone and calling someone. When we kneel or bow our heads to the ground and open the line of communication with the Supreme Being we should not waste that precious communication on asking Him for the temporary things of this physical world, for a body that will soon shrivel up and die, and decompose shortly after.

We should use that precious communication to ask God if we can resume our natural position as His loving servant: If we can resume our loving relationship with Him.

And what does a person do when they want to get closer to someone? They praise them.

And what does a person do when they have gotten closer to someone? They praise them.

And what does a person do when they care about someone? They praise them.

This is what Jesus is advising his students to do: Praise the Supreme Being. This is why he is suggesting they praise God:
“For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever"

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you ..." (Matt. 6:14-15)

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." (Matt. 6:14-15)

Do people 'sin against' us?

The original Greek does not actually say "sin against you." Rather, the original Greek simply uses the word παράπτωμα (paraptōma) - which means, according to the lexicon, "to fall beside or near something" and "a lapse or deviation from truth and uprightness." 

This could also be translated to "trespasses or even "offends" - but not "sins against you."

This is consistent with the King James and New King James versions. The New King James Version states:
“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you."
This is a broader translation than simply forgiving people for their sins against us. It is certainly inclusive, however. To forgive people of any trespasses or offenses includes those against us.

In other words, Jesus is instructing his followers to forgive others of their trespasses or offenses against anyone - including God. It is not just about forgiving others for what they may have done to us.

Will God forgive us?

God unconditionally loves each of us, and perpetually forgives each of us due to that love. There is no need to earn His forgiveness - it is not as if we pay for the privilege of His forgiveness.

Rather, Jesus is indicating that it is an automatic process of reception. We won't be able to receive His forgiveness unless we are also forgiving others.

True forgiveness requires love and compassion. In order to receive love and compassion we must be a receptacle for it. We have the consciousness to be able to receive it.

For example, let's say that we see a stray animal that is hurt and we want to help the animal. Will we be able to help the animal if it hides and won't let us catch it? Certainly not. We can only help the animal if it trusts us enough to get close enough to help it.

In the same way, by forgiving others for their offenses - against ourselves or otherwise - we can become a receptacle for the forgiveness of the Supreme Being. We come into the realm of love - enabling us to receive his forgiveness.

How can we embrace forgiveness?

Jesus is suggesting that we embrace forgiveness - applying it liberally to others - in order for the Supreme Being's forgiveness will embrace us.

This quality of reciprocation also works with love. Consider this statement of Jesus:
" 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" (Matt. 22:37-39)
The reason 'Love your neighbor as yourself' is "like it" with respect to " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'" is that without loving God we won't have the ability to truly love others.

These are linked. We won't be able to love the Supreme Being without also loving His children. And we won't be able to truly love His children without loving Him.

It would be like having a loving relationship with a woman and yet hating the woman's infant baby. Or loving the baby and hating the woman. How could we hate the baby and love the woman? It is not possible, because the baby is connected to the woman. They are intimately connected.

In the same way, we are each intimately connected with the Supreme Being. It is not as if there is us and then there is God - like we are two opposing forces. The Supreme Being is our Creator and everlasting well-wisher. We are His eternally (whether we appreciate this or not). 

Thus to pretend to love God without loving His children would be a contradiction in itself.

“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do ..." (Matthew 6:16-17)

“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." (Matthew 6:16-17)

Why is Jesus talking about fasting?

Jesus is alluding to the practice of his time - devotional fasting. This is an ancient devotional custom that a person will fast on a holy day - a day that commemorates God or one of God's representatives. 

This was a common practice during Jesus' times and earlier, as temple followers would fast on holy days.

Jesus is also describing how this practice can be misused and manipulated for the purposes of attracting the attention of others.

While religious holidays like the birth dates of saints and periodic dates of the ceremony have become feasting days to secular society, fasting for devotional reasons has a long tradition in every religious teaching. This practice goes back as far as Abraham and Moses. And Jesus' statement confirms that Jesus approved of this practice.

Devotional fasting contrasts feasting and secular fasting. The devotional fast is done to please and celebrate the Supreme Being. It is done as a personal sacrifice of loving service. 

One of the main benefits - and purposes - of devotional fasting is to focus attention on the Supreme Being.

A devotional fast is accompanied by praising of God's Holy Names and glories also have a longstanding tradition among ancient devotion to God.

What is secular fasting?

The secular fast is defined by Jesus "as the hypocrites do." It is done to appear to others as being religious and austere.

For some, the fast may also be about being healthy or losing weight. In both of these instances, as Jesus indicates here, the reward is given immediately: "I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full." 

How do they 'receive their reward in full'?

The benefit Jesus indicates relates to the respect or admiration of others obtained through fasting. As soon as we proudly display to others or tell others we are fasting, we have earned our reward immediately by gaining that person’s respect, admiration or attention.

Even the intent of fasting to impress others - so that we can be accepted by others - gives us this immediate benefit - while we lose the benefit that might have been gained spiritually.

If our purpose is to impress or be accepted by others, we have effectively missed the opportunity to please the Supreme Being with that activity. This is because we have turned it into a self-centered activity.

Self-centered activities - done to please ourselves or look good to others - are diametrically opposed to devotional activities done to please the Supreme Being.

What does Jesus mean by God being 'unseen'?

Jesus is stating that God will see our devotion - and see our fast - even if no one else does. This means that Jesus is acknowledging the Supreme Being's existence beyond the physical world.

Jesus says God is "unseen." What does this mean?

This doesn’t necessarily mean that God cannot be seen, but that He is unseen by the physical eyes, and unseen by those whose focus is upon themselves: self-centeredness.

Just consider the meaning of focus. When a camera is focused upon a certain image, it can capture that image. But when capturing that image, it is not focused upon other images and thus misses those. For example, if the lens is focused upon something far in the distance, it won't be capturing something right under the camera.

Seeing the Supreme Being has a similar context in that one cannot see the Supreme Being when we are focused upon ourselves and the enjoyment of this temporary physical body. In this state, one's consciousness is polluted with greed, and this clouds our ability to see the Supreme Being.

But when our consciousness becomes focused upon the Supreme Being, and our innate loving relationship with the Supreme Being becomes awakened, the pollution of greed and self-centeredness - and bodily identification - clears up. This opens our spiritual eyes:

How can we see God if He is 'unseen'?

While we are in the physical world we can see God now through the eyes of love.

These are our true eyes. Real vision takes place from the heart. Through one's consciousness. This is where understanding takes place, and it is through understanding that we actually see - or perceive.

The only way to see God - and see others as they really are - is with the eyes of love.

One may look through the eyes at someone's body but never actually see them. This is because they are not seeing with their consciousness. They are not seeing through the eyes of love and understanding.

Jesus' message here emphasizing seeing with the heart as opposed to just the eyes. Jesus is speaking about establishing our personal relationship with God, and loving each other. The fact that he says the Supreme Being “sees what is done in secret,” indicates activities done solely to please the Supreme Being and not to impress or please others.

How does a person begin to truly see then? It begins with focusing our consciousness upon the Supreme Being. Through personal worship of the Supreme Being and dedication to the Supreme Being. This means practical steps such as making offerings to Him and glorifying Him.

This is the nature of our original existence. Every one of us was created to exchange a direct, unique and personal relationship with the Supreme Being. We each have our own unique relationship with Him. God wants us to revive that personal relationship with Him. This is the intention of Jesus’ teachings.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth ...." (Matthew 6:19-21)

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:19-21)

Why will the 'moth and rust destroy' our 'treasures on earth'?

Such "treasures" stored up on "earth" - are temporary, according to Jesus. They are: "where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal."

Because they are made of matter, what we treasure on earth will eventually be taken from us. They will eventually all decompose.

In other words, everything here in the physical world is temporary. All the money, the house, the job, the fame and all the other stuff we can accumulate here in this world is all temporary. These are all made of matter that will dissolve into molecules. Just as our bodies will after we leave them, all these things will decompose.

Ultimately we will have to leave everything behind at the time of death.

As for the dream of building that happy home with the white picket fence, the kids, and the dog, these will all dissolve as well. The kids will grow up, the dog will die, the house will get old and need rebuilding and the white picket fence will sag and collapse. 

Then one day our body will die and everything will dissolve.

Poof! It will all be gone in an instant.

Why can't we store our 'treasures on earth'?

In this statement, Jesus is explaining that our true identity is spiritual rather than material.

Here we each occupy temporary physical bodies for a specific period of time. But we each are a unique and unseen (by the gross physical eyes) spirit-person. This is the person that drives the energy and the activities of the body. This is the person who exhibits emotions through the body. This is the person who is born into a body and leaves the body at death. This person is eternal, while our physical bodies are temporary.

Our home is in the spiritual realm, where our spiritual person naturally exists in our normal state. This was our state of existence before we descended into the physical world and took on a physical body.

This assumption that we are spirit not matter is clarified by Jesus as he said: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth..."

Without having an identity beyond this earth - a spiritual identity - these statements would make no sense.

The question Jesus brings to bear is what is that treasure we can store up in heaven? What could we possibly do now to store some sort of treasure in the spiritual world?

What are the 'treasures in heaven'?

The ultimate “treasure” Jesus is referring to is our relationship with God. This never dies. Once we rebuild our lost relationship with the Supreme Being we will never lose it.

By redeveloping our loving relationship with God, we are building for ourselves a permanent treasure in the spiritual world, because this is where that relationship ultimately resides, and where He is to be found.

Our relationship with God can be redeveloped while we are in the physical world. This is because God’s kingdom includes the physical world.

The limiting factor is the physical body. Because of these physical bodies, we cannot see Him when we are focused upon the things of this world. Only when we begin to focus our lives and our efforts toward pleasing Him can our relationship begin to redevelop.

This relates specifically to Jesus' statement: "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

Our focus relates to where our heart is. If we are focused on the temporary things of the physical world, our heart will stay in the physical world. If we are focused on the Supreme Being and His world, our heart will be with the Supreme Being in the spiritual world.

It is our choice. We choose where and who we focus our lives upon. And that focus will be our treasure.

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good ..." (Matthew 6:22-23)

"The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!" (Matthew 6:22-23)

What do the 'eye' and the 'lamp' represent?

This metaphorical statement by Jesus is often misinterpreted. What does it mean?

It should be noted that Jesus was teaching to a particular society and culture—some 2,000 years ago in another land and in another language. Each culture and society has tangible and common everyday occurrences and understandings that might be used to communicate a deep subject matter.

Here Jesus was teaching about the deepest subject matter of all: He was discussing elements of a world transcendental to this temporary physical world. Because that transcendental world is unseen by the physical eyes and physical mind, it is difficult to describe without metaphorical language.

This creates a problem of understanding for those who either do not relate to the metaphors being used or are not otherwise versed in the subject matter. In Jesus' times, people used lamps with fire for light. A lamp could be of different shapes and sizes, and a lamp could have a good light - allowing a person to see quite a bit - or a poor light - allowing for little vision at night.

Jesus is comparing the "eye" to the condition of our heart and the "light" to our spiritual consciousness. This means our relationship with the Supreme Being and others.

A soft-hearted and humble consciousness will be able to receive the teachings of God's messenger and thus be able to re-develop our relationship with the Supreme Being. That will leave our "light" - the condition of our relationship with the Supreme Being - in a state that is increasingly joyful and full of love and compassion.

But if our heart ("eye") is full of pride, greed and self-centeredness, then there would be little ability to receive Jesus' teachings. And our "light" within - our spiritual condition - will be in darkness.

What does Jesus mean by 'darkness'?

"Darkness" is that metaphorical state where our self-centeredness and our pride prevent us from connecting with our relationship with the Supreme Being. This is "darkness" because we are each intimately related with the Supreme Being. 

Jesus taught that we were created by God. That is why he often addressed God as πατήρ (patēr) - typically translated to "Father" but more appropriately translated to "Creator."

Why did God create us? We were created for the purpose of exchanging a unique loving service relationship with the Supreme Being.

This is our identity. This is who we are. We are not these physical bodies. We are each spirit-persons who belong with Him in the spiritual realm.

But because love requires freedom, the Supreme Being also created us with the freedom to love Him or not. We can reject Him if we want, in other words.

Those who rejected their relationship with the Supreme Being were sent to the physical world and given physical bodies to act out our desires for independence and self-gratification.

But in order to maintain our freedom, the Supreme Being also created the physical world in such a way that it completely covers up our spiritual identity and our relationship with Him. It allows us to completely escape Him, and even forget Him and deny His existence.

Such a state is the state of "darkness" that Jesus is referring to in this metaphorical statement. He is talking about the nature of greed and enviousness in this world. This is about the desire for power and the desire to be superior to others.

What is 'darkness' in this world?

Darkness is exhibited in this world by the desire to be top dog. The desire for fame. The desire to be the 'champion of the world.' The desire to be 'the greatest.' The desire to be recognized as 'the hero.'

These are all the Supreme Being's positions. Yes, this means these desires are ultimately envy of God's position - which is why we are away from Him.

When Jesus says “how great that darkness,” he points out that when the heart is blackened by greed and envy, a great downward spiral draws the self deeper and deeper into self-centeredness - leading to acts of hatred, anger, and violence.

But we can turn things around quite quickly and immediately. We can transcend this darkness by simply turning to the Supreme Being, and praying to Him - Our Friend and Eternal Savior - to rescue us. 

For this reason, God is often referred to as The Most Compassionate, because we can approach Him in distress, and He will come to our rescue. Because He is always there for us. This is called unconditional love.

Such a request made humbly will immediately soften our hearts and allow our innate relationship with the Supreme Being to begin to provide light to our lives.

“No one can serve two masters .... " (Matthew 6:24)

“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." (Matthew 6:24)

Is this about money?

This statement has been misconstrued and mistranslated with respect to money.

The Greek word being translated to "money" here is μαμωνᾶς (mamōnas). The word means, according to the lexicon, "mammon" or "treasure" or "riches."

Yes, it certainly can be translated to "money" - but that was not what Jesus was referring to. Why? Because money is a means of exchange. Jesus and his disciples sometimes used money to secure the things they needed to survive. 

So money is not bad in itself. It cannot be a "master" in itself.

Rather, what Jesus is referring to is materialism. This is the modern-day term used to describe "mammon."

Is 'mammon' the same as materialism?

Yes. "Mammon" or materialism is the desire to enjoy this physical world. It is the desire to enjoy these temporary physical bodies.

And why is this juxtaposed against serving God - "You cannot serve both God and materialism"?

Because materialism in essence is the expression of self-centeredness. The desire to please oneself. This is the pervading goal among the residents of the physical world.

And the pervading goal among those in the spiritual realm is quite the opposite: The residents of the spiritual realm seek to please the Supreme Being.

What about loving ourselves?

Love of God is diametrically opposed to loving oneself.

Yet surprisingly, this teaching - that we have to love ourselves before we can love others - is being taught by ecclesiastical and secular teachers in modern society.

It is an erroneous teaching. To love oneself is self-centeredness, and this does not lead to loving others.

But coming to love and serve the Supreme Being - that will cause one to love others because we are all the children of the Supreme Being.

This was confirmed by Jesus when he said:
'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" (Matt. 22:37-40)
Love of God is connected to loving others. It is a pre-requisite. And loving God is the antithesis of loving oneself.

But doesn't it say "as yourself" so we need to love ourselves?

This is a self-centered, myopic approach. The verse is assuming we already care about ourselves. It is a foregone conclusion. It is already there. Not that we need to focus upon it even further.

This teaching was intended to take our attention off of ourselves - and put our love upon the Supreme Being and others instead of only on ourselves. But those who wish to interpret Jesus' teachings to accommodate their own desires would rather focus upon the "as yourself" of this instruction rather than the rest of it.

What is self-centeredness?

In the physical world, our focus upon pleasing ourselves is redirected to materialism. Our self-centeredness resulted in us being put within a physical body within the physical world in order to exercise our self-centeredness.

Then we became covered up by these physical bodies. Now our self-centeredness is directed towards working to satisfy the physical body and those things that surround the physical body.

This means the temporary things of this world. This means the desires for sensual pleasure, fame, wealth, a big house, a big family, to be the boss, to be the hero and so on. All of these things together are defined within the notion of materialism.

And should our self-centered focus become directed towards these things - or any combination thereof - we will become the servant of materialism.

Yes - achieving all of the things of materialism requires work. It requires work to become wealthy or famous. It requires work to buy the big house or get the big job. What is this work? It is service. We have to become the servant of materialism in order to capture the things of this world.

In other words, Jesus is discussing the ultimate choice we face between God or ourselves.

What is the nature of heaven?

In the spiritual world, the focus of attention is upon the Supreme Being. This focus is accompanied by loving service because God is the most attractive and most lovable Person and loving service is how love is expressed. Our relationship with God is what we are searching for when we look for our perfect soul mate. The exchange of love with God and loving service to God is what we really seek when we seek pleasure.

Yet because He also gave us the freedom of choice whether to love Him, and since He is loving us unconditionally and thus kindly rewarding our wishes, when we chose our self-centered desires over loving Him, He granted us the ability to exercise that choice by our taking on these temporary physical bodies within the material world.

This doesn't mean we no longer have choice. While the physical world is ultimately not a place of pleasure but a place of suffering (diseases, old age, death and pain with short flashes of physical pleasure), we still have that choice whether to focus our attention upon Him or upon our own desires and wishes.

In reality, God has arranged this physical environment and our current physical body - reflecting a combination of our wishes and past decisions - so we do not have to see Him. He has arranged the body and our physical environment in such a way that His presence is invisible to us. 

This arrangement allows us the ultimate freedom to choose between God and our own desires: We can choose to ignore Him or we can choose to worship Him: It is our choice because love requires freedom and the Supreme Being enjoys the exchange of love.

Is this like dreaming?

Our situation within the physical world can be most readily understood by considering dreaming. When we dream, our bodies are lying in the same place in our bed, while our minds take us through illusory and temporary existences in different places. In our dreams, we can play out our fantasies and our nightmares. In our dreams, we can take on different personalities. One night we might be a wealthy man governing a big company. Another night we might be a poor woman working as a slave.

In each dream, we take on a situation, and we navigate the dreamscape with a particular dream character (once we temporarily identify with during the dream), our wishes, and our decisions.

Once we awaken from the dream, we realize the whole thing was an illusion: The identity we identified with was temporary. The environment and situation we were in were temporary. Even though we identified with it as real during the dream, once awake, we realized the dream was just a temporary manifestation - an illusion of reality.

The temporary physical body we wear at the moment is practically similar to the dream, except it is one physical layer higher. While our gross physical body is tangible and real, it is still temporary. Here the illusion is that this is our permanent place, and we will become happy here somehow. The gross physical body is still a reflection of our desires and past activities, just as is the dream.

The changes that occur around us in the physical world accommodate our ongoing wishes, desires and past decisions. This is God's arrangement to accommodate our current choice of being away from Him.

The nature of our choice between God and materialism is that we can either focus upon God or we can focus upon ourselves. By focusing upon God and serving God we become fulfilled because this is our innate spiritual position. By focusing upon ourselves, we become engrossed in self-centeredness and the requirements of materialism - which become our master.

Jesus is communicating that these two choices are mutually exclusive: We can't go both directions at the same time, because they are diametrically opposed.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life ...” (Matt. 6:25-27)

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matt. 6:25-27)

Why shouldn't we worry about our life?

Jesus is clearly stating our identity with this statement. He is stating that we are not the physical body. The physical body is a temporary vehicle each of us drives for awhile. We are the spirit-person within these bodies.

Therefore, Jesus is speaking of worrying about our temporary physical body - which will die at some point anyway.

In other words, we are each spiritual persons residing within a temporary physical body. Each of us is an individual spiritual being, transcendental to the physical world. The physical bodies we wear are temporary. They will each die within a few decades, and for some, more quickly. Then we will move on.

These physical bodies are designed to be clothed and fed from materials from the physical world around us. Nature has been designed to supply all the food, water and clothing our physical body needs. (And the scarcity in this world has been the product of humanity's hoarding and greed.)

Jesus is also speaking to the many anxieties of those he was preaching to. Their anxiousness for their physical day-to-day survival is apparent from Jesus’ focus upon food and clothing.

This is certainly because many of the people he spoke to were poor and had to toil in the fields or otherwise endeavor. Though Jesus was not saying they didn’t have to work anymore, he was saying that we can have confidence that God will take care of each of us. We don’t have to worry about our physical survival. Instead, our focus should be on re-developing our relationship with Him.

Jesus did not come to teach us about taking care of the body. That was not his ultimate concern. His concern was the spiritual welfare of others. Because the physical world was designed with the veil of the physical body — making it difficult to see or communicate with the Supreme Being and designed to fool us into thinking we are these bodies — we have become in some sense separated from Supreme Being. This was our choice.

What does Jesus want from us?

Jesus' purpose is to bring us back to our original relationship with the Supreme Being — a relationship of love and loving service.

Although it is necessary to work to maintain the physical body, that should not be our focus in life. Life's focus should be upon regaining this relationship that Jesus is teaching about.

If one is focused upon the physical body’s survival, its reputation, its family or its other physical needs, the focus cannot be upon Supreme Being. It is a simple matter of focus.

Certainly, one can focus first and foremost on the Supreme Being and use this physical body to get closer to Him and serve Him. In such a consciousness, taking care of the body and family can also become part of that service. In this case, the body can become a tool in our focus towards God.

There is a fine line here, however. But the issue of focus influences our consciousness.

At the end of the life of this body, our focus and consciousness direct us to our next destination. The mind is like a wind vane — it indicates our direction.

Therefore, in order to change our direction, we must change our consciousness. This means redirecting our focus from the mundane elements of the physical world to the transcendental elements of the Supreme Being.

Redirecting our focus can be done through prayer, glorifying and praising the Supreme Being and His Holy Names, making offerings to God, and learning more about Him through scripture. Gradually, these activities will change our consciousness, and with this comes a change in our future course.

“And why do you worry about clothes? ... " (Matthew 6:28-33)

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat? Or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matthew 6:28-33)

Why is Jesus talking about clothing?

Because Jesus is using clothing as a metaphor. The metaphor is that the physical body is like clothing that covers the person within - the soul or spirit. Each of us souls is wearing a temporary physical just as a person might wear clothing.

This statement confirms Jesus’ meaning from his previous statement about worrying about our physical bodies. Jesus is teaching that our focus and energies should be directed towards the Supreme Being. He will take care of us from there.

What does Jesus mean by 'mammon'?

"Mammon" refers to materialism. The things of the physical world. Because our natural position is one of servant, if we decide not to serve the Supreme Being we will be forced to serve the physical realm. We will have to serve our bodies. And the things and people that keep our bodies alive.

But if we choose to serve the Supreme Being, these physical bodies will not be our masters anymore. They will be our vehicles, and we can take them or leave them. We can use them as vehicles to serve the Supreme Being. This is why Jesus says here:
"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness...."
We were created by the Supreme Being to be His loving servants. We were each created with a unique relationship with Him. Each of us has a unique personality and a unique spiritual identity. When we are living within this spiritual identity we are truly happy and fulfilled, because this identity is linked with loving and serving God.

At the same time, He gave us the freedom to love and serve Him - or not. Those of us living in this temporary physical environment are here because we chose not to love and serve Him. We chose to escape our true nature and attempt to be happy without the Supreme Being. So He sent us to the physical world to act out our self-centered desires.

Here in the physical world, we are tested with many difficulties and stresses. The challenges of this world are designed to teach us. As Jesus points out here, we can learn to rise above these difficulties and put our attention on the Supreme Being.

If we want to re-establish our relationship with the Supreme Being and resume our spiritual identity we can do that. We have the freedom to change direction at any time.

Jesus is pointing out that this will be more difficult if we are focusing our attention on the temporary physical matters that involve our bodies. Jesus stated this clearly elsewhere:
No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon." (Matt. 6:24)
At the end of the day, we each have the choice to put our love upon ourselves - which translates to loving our physical bodies - or putting our love on the Supreme Being. The latter was recommended by Jesus:
" 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged ..." (Matthew 7:1-2)

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." (Matthew 7:1-2)

What does Jesus mean by 'judge'?

The word "judge" here is being translated from the Greek word κρίνω (krinō), which means, according to the lexicon:

-to separate, put asunder, to pick out, select, choose
-to approve, esteem, to prefer
-to be of opinion, deem, think, to be of opinion
-to determine, resolve, decree
-to judge
-to pronounce an opinion concerning right and wrong
-to rule, govern

While "judge" may be the best word to use, the meaning of Jesus' statement begins to have greater meaning because it indicates not just judging others but feeling oneself in a position to judge others. That is, thinking highly enough of oneself to think that our opinions and judgments have value. It is a false sense of entitlement - feeling ourselves great enough to be able to judge others.

Feeling so highly of ourselves to enable us to judge others is practically universal in the physical world. The citizens of this world feel it is our right and responsibility to judge others.

Are our judgments and opinions valuable?

In this world, practically everyone has an opinion - on practically everything. Regardless of whether we know anything about what we are talking about or not. We think our opinions and judgments are invaluable.

We can see it online in the form of comments and reviews. So many people want to get their opinion out there - judging an article or book or topic in general. Regardless of their expertise on the topic. Regardless of whether they have had any training or any kind of knowledge given to them to share.

There are two issues here. One relates to a lack of knowledge and the other relates to humility.

Are we really in any kind of position to make judgments upon anyone else? No. Therefore, our judgments have no value.

Just consider how small and inconsequential we are. There are about 7,800,000,000. Thus we are each one 1/7,800,000,000 of the human population on earth.

Now consider the Supreme Being. He created every single one of these 7.8 billion people, and a lot more. How can each of us be undergoing simultaneous learning experiences?

Because God intelligently designed the physical world and all of its lessons and consequences.

Humans have invented computer programming that allows for what is called artificial intelligence. God is the ultimate programmer, and he has designed a whole living mechanism within the physical world that expresses intelligence in the form of teaching us. 

Only the intelligence within this world is not artificial. It is alive.

Who is in a position to judge?

In order to judge, one must have all the facts, and the intelligence to interpret them. Do we have enough facts to make judgments on someone else? Do we know what they have gone through? Do we know the various causational issues to make an educated judgment?

Not really. Only one person has all of this: The Supreme Being.

Because the Supreme Being is the Source of everything and the Owner of everything, and the Knower of everything, only He has the right of judgment. Only He has an opinion of value.

Therefore, if we are not glorifying the Supreme Being, or passing along His opinions - the teachings of His representatives - then our opinions are no better than dogs barking or cats meowing.

Jesus confirmed this position as he said:
"By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but Him who sent me." (John 5:30)
Jesus is stating that is judgments are fair because he is working on behalf of the Supreme Being. He is God's representative. His purpose for judging others is not related to the reasons we in the physical world like to judge others.

We like to judge others because we think that we are great. This is self-centeredness. It is pride. It is egotism based upon false identification.

Because we mistakenly identify ourselves as these physical bodies, we think we have some right of judgment. Yet we are not these physical bodies. They are temporary vehicles. And our minds are also temporary. So even if we think we have a sharp mind, the mind will not be sharp for long. At some point, our mind will become forgetful just as our physical body falters and begins to die.

Jesus' statement above also indicates one of the designs of the physical world - that the physical world is designed to teach us through consequences. Whatever we do comes back to us in the form of consequences. This allows us to experience what we do to others. It is the perfect learning tool.

Jesus is explaining this process with regard to judgment. He says, "in the same way you judge others, you will be judged." This is precision consequence learning.

It is so precise that even the measure with which we judge others - "and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

How does God judge?

The Supreme Being is the perfect judge. Not only does He see everything and automatically understand the various causational issues. But He imparts fair and merciful judgments upon us in real time.

Some of His judgments are immediate, while others take place over time, depending upon the circumstance.

The basis of God's judgments is consequences. The Supreme Being wants us to learn and grow from our mistakes. So He combines mercy together with the impartial serving of consequences. Much of this takes place seemingly automatic, but there is tremendous wisdom behind it all.

This is confirmed by Jesus as translated from the NLT version:
"For you will be treated as you treat others." (Matt. 7:2 NLT)
The foundation is that we are here in this world to learn. So what we do while here may come back at us during this lifetime, or the next lifetime.

This consequence system, designed by the Supreme Being, is perfect. It is the perfect system because it doesn't require God to intervene and move things around for each situation. The consequences are measured out automatically depending upon our situation and learning opportunities.

Yet some feel that God is not perfect, because if He were, then why is the world so messed up? Why are there so many wars, and people starving and people dying if God were perfect?

Those who make such a judgment of God are judging God without the ability to do so. We don't bother considering that quite possibly the reason why the world is so messed up is that we are messing it up.

Yes, the Supreme Being simply provided us with a world where we could make choices regarding our activities. Here we have the choice to be as mean and greedy as we want or a loving and kind as we want. It is our choice, and the condition of the world reflects this choice.

As such, it is the meanness - the hostility - the greed - of those of us in the physical world that has produced all the hostility, starvation and wars around the world. These are not coming from God. They are coming from us. These are the consequences of our actions. Our consciousness. Our self-centeredness.

Why do we suffer in this world?

Why, we might ask, are some children born into starvation? What have they done to deserve this?

This same question was asked of Jesus:
As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:1-2)
Such a question assumes that this man lived before he was born and had the opportunity to sin. Therefore, we know the question assumes the man had a lifetime before this lifetime.

How else could the man's sins have possibly caused him to be blind if he were born blind? This assumption clearly means that Jesus taught that we can live multiple physical lifetimes.

We also know that living multiple lifetimes was also understood by many during Jesus' time. We can see this in the following verses:
Jesus and his disciples left Galilee and went up to the villages near Caesarea Philippi. As they were walking along, he asked them, “Who do people say I am?” “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say you are one of the other prophets.” (Mark 8:27-28)
We can understand from these and other verses that at least part of Jesus' teachings was that we each have lived before being born within this physical body. These teachings were neatly removed from the New Testament by the Romans and the sectarian institutions that followed - along with silencing early Christian teachers such as Origen Adamantius from Alexandria. The Romans and the Roman Catholic institution repackaged Jesus' teachings in ways that fit their agenda of controlling the populace.

The reality that cannot be neatly removed is that we are not these physical bodies at all. It is scientifically verifiable. These bodies are constantly changing. The molecules that make up our body now will be recycled for new molecules within five years. So within five years, we will effectively have a completely different body on.

This means we changed bodies - right in this lifetime.

We can also change bodies after this body is dead - if we haven't re-developed our loving relationship with the Supreme Being.

And this is why some children are born into suffering. Because that suffering is a consequence of actions taken in a previous life. Just as Jesus' disciples mentioned, "who sinned, this man or his parents?"

Think about this further. The question is a logical one. The boy's blindness might be a consequence of the parents - something the parents did before the boy was born. Or it might have been a consequence of something the boy did - in his previous lifetime.

Who is suffering?

Suffering in the physical world takes place upon the temporary physical body - not upon the spirit-person within. Yes, it can certainly affect the spirit-person, invoking learning, and understanding produced by previous activities.

But essentially, it is like playing a video game. If a boy's icon gets blown up in the video game does the boy get hurt? No. The boy can just turn off the game and walk away.

In the same way, if our body gets blown up, we simply leave the physical body - and "walk" away. We actually rise up out of the physical body (resurrection) at the time of death.

So the suffering of the physical body is meant as a learning experience. It is like getting into a flight simulator. The flight simulator is not a real plane. It is designed to teach a person how to fly a plane.

In the same way, these physical bodies are designed to teach us - to rehabilitate us.

This is the purpose for consequences, which are borne from the perfect judgments of the Supreme Being. When we treat others poorly we get treated the same in reciprocation - if not immediately, at some point.

This system is meant to teach us so that someday we will learn to love again. And one day desire to re-develop our innate relationship with the Supreme Being.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye ...?" (Matthew 7:3-5)

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye." (Matthew 7:3-5)

What do the 'speck' and the 'plank' mean?

Jesus is using a metaphor to make the point that we are in no position to judge others. That is because each of us has things we need to work on.

The "speck" that Jesus is referring to would be someone else's fault. "Your brother's eye" means the sawdust is preventing that person from having more understanding. And the "plank" in our eye represents us not having more understanding - not being able to see out of that eye due to the blockage.

Notice that a "speck" is much, much smaller than a "plank." This means that while we are focused on others' small faults, we have bigger, much bigger ones to fix.

Making judgments of others' faults simply reflects our own larger failings to fix.

Can we change others or should we change ourselves first?

Trying to change others is a difficult task. Yes, some people are in a position to help guide others. But for most of us, it is better for us to change ourselves first.

And should we change ourselves for the better, others around us may change for the better as well. This means setting an example for others.

Making big changes requires seeing God as the center of the universe and not us. In order to have a change of heart, we must undergo a major shift in focus and activities. We must gradually put God at the center, and try to put His happiness before our own happiness. Then and only then, will we be able to change.

It is way easier to see that others are not undergoing that major shift in activities than to undergo this major shift ourselves. In fact, the physical world is set up to reflect our faults until we decide to change. So whatever fault and shortcomings we see in ourselves that we are not prepared to change, we will see those faults in others.

When we begin to criticize others for the same faults that we ourselves have, we actually move further from being able to make those changes within ourselves. They allow us to escape our own need for change.

How do we make changes then? We can surely try to make changes, but the Supreme Person can give us the strength to change from within.

We can ask the Supreme Person to help us change. We can take shelter in Him.

We can realize that we are weak, and He has the power to help us.

This is called taking refuge in the Supreme Being.

Jesus showed us how to do this by his example, as he prayed to God openly before his disciples:
"Now they know that everything You have given me comes from You." (John 17:7)

“Do not give dogs what is sacred, do not throw your pearls to pigs..." (Matthew 7:6)

“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces." (Matthew 7:6)

What does Jesus mean by not giving 'dogs what is sacred'?

This often quoted metaphorical statement by Jesus was not only instructive regarding how Jesus' disciples and students were to teach - but also renders clarity on why many of Jesus’ public teachings utilized parables and metaphors.

The word "sacred" here - taken from the Greek word ἅγιος (hagios) meaning "most holy thing" according to the lexicon - refers to the confidential teachings relating to the spiritual realm and the Supreme Being.

These were the primary elements of Jesus' most valuable teachings - which were coming from the Supreme Being, as Jesus stated elsewhere:
“My teaching is not my own. It comes from the One who sent me." (John 7:16)
In other words, Jesus was guarding the confidential teachings coming from the Supreme Being.

And because Jesus was giving this instruction to his disciples, Jesus' point relates also to this confidential nature of his teachings, as well as the teachings of the prophets before him:

Yes, these teachings have been carefully guarded over the centuries.

Were some of Jesus' teachings confidential?

Some of Jesus' teachings - especially those directed at his disciples in private - were confidential.

Jesus confirmed the confidential ("secret") nature of these teachings elsewhere:
"The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables...." (Mark 4:11-12)
Jesus sometimes spoke in parables so that only those who were humble enough to be able to receive spiritual understanding could receive the message. Others -- those with their own agendas -- were left puzzled about the message of the particular message.

Jesus is indicating that God communicates His lessons and truths to those who are ready and receptive to hear them. His communications can come directly through our heart ("Holy Spirit") or through His confidential representatives. 

Who are the 'pigs' according to Jesus?

From Abraham to Moses to David to John the Baptist and Jesus, and many in between and from other cultures and times we find God communicating to those who are ready to hear. 

But we also find the Truth passed down by God's prophets has been in many cases misinterpreted by those who have sought to utilize them for their own purposes of gaining power and authority.

For this reason, we find many of God's communications have often been neglected or ignored over the centuries.

These are the "pigs" that Jesus is warning us about.

How do we know if we are ready to hear it?

A sincere desire to come to know the Supreme Being is the signal that one is ready to hear Jesus' confidential teachings.

This is confirmed by Jesus' next statement.

For this reason, Jesus was teaching his disciples to carefully present the Truth to those who are ready to hear it. He wanted them to carefully lay out the right amount of wisdom to meet the situation and the depth of the listener, to avoid the Truth being trampled upon and misused.

In terms of students of Jesus' teachings, there is another message: The teachings of God's representative must be received with humility and reverence.

This point was confirmed by another statement by Jesus:
“I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children." (Matthew 11:25)

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find ..." (Matthew 7:7-8)

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened." (Matthew 7:7-8)

What is Jesus suggesting that we 'seek'?

Some would have us believe that Jesus is referring to anything we want, be it money, a new job, a new car or our football team to win. Is Jesus saying that we should seek materialism?

Why would Jesus suggest his students ask for that which he opposes they focus upon:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?" (Matt. 6:25)
If Jesus doesn't want his students to focus on materialism, why would he then want them to seek materialistic things?

Rather, the "it" Jesus is referring to is the subject of his teachings:
“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matt. 22:37-38)
What is required in order to love someone? Can we love someone who we don't know?

Therefore, what Jesus is suggesting his students ask for is to come to know the Supreme Being.

What is 'the door' Jesus is referring to?

Jesus says that if we ask, and seek, and knock - a metaphor - the door will be opened. What is the door?

The "door" is the path to return to our loving relationship with God.

Even though we rejected Him and thus came to this physical universe to escape Him, He still wants us back. He Himself gave us the freedom to choose to love Him or not. He thus has complete understanding and forgiveness for those who fell away from Him.

Therefore, as soon as we sincerely want to return to Him, He will help guide us back to Him. He will allow us to get to know Him again.

But we must ask first. He doesn't want to barge into our lives. He wants us to make the choice to return to Him. This is what love is about.

And yes, - He will forgive us of our envy and our greed - and He will heal our self-centeredness. This is because He is strong, tolerant and gentle by nature.

But we must ask first. We must want Him back in our lives.

What should we 'ask' for?

Jesus is suggesting that what we ask for will be given to us. Does this mean that we should ask for materialistic things? Should we be asking for money? Should we be asking for fame?

Asking for such things assumes the Supreme Being is some sort of genie that will grant us whatever we want: As though God is our servant.

What Jesus is requesting we ask for is outlined in the Lord's Prayer, and his prayer on Mount Olives (Gethsemane):
1) Forgiveness:
"Forgive our debts [or sins] as we forgive our debtors." (Matthew 6:12)

2) Spiritual fulfillment:
"Give us this day our daily bread." (Matthew 6:12)
As discussed with that verse, Jesus is not suggesting we ask for physical food. He is suggesting we ask for spiritual food.

3) Doing God's will: 
Your kingdom come, Your will be done ...” (Matthew 6:10)
Jesus also himself prayed for this on Mount Olives:
"My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." (Matthew 26:39)
God has feelings. When we have acted against His will and we reject Him, He is certainly hurt by that, just as any loving friend would be. Any loving friend would feel pain when the one they love decides to leave.

For this reason, we cannot just ask to return to Him on a whim. We must be serious. We must be sincere about our desire to return. It must not be a matter of making a show of religiousness to impress others.

For these reasons He tests us. When a person approaches God and asks for forgiveness, and sincerely asks to come home, the door will be opened, certainly. But it will also come with a number of trials and tests to not only measure our sincerity but to make us stronger and more sincere in our desire to come home to Him.

Consider, for example, if a person leaves a loving wife or husband to be with another. For many years they were gone, and then suddenly they decide they want to get back together with the former spouse. Does the former spouse take them back just like that - immediately? 

Certainly, if the former spouse still loves them they would let them back into their lives. However, this would likely not be immediate. First, the returning spouse would have to prove to them (and themselves) that they are back for good. They would have to illustrate to the former spouse (and themselves) that they haven’t just come back on a whim, just to leave again.

In the same way, God sets up various tests for those who request to return to Him. He wants us back, but He also wants us to be serious about it. He wants us to come back because we want to be with Him. He doesn't want us to come back just because we couldn't get what we wanted - be it money or fame or whatever - when we were ignoring Him. He doesn't want us to return just because we want to get saved. He wants us to return to Him with love and sincerity in our hearts.

It is because of His love that He will open the door and let us back into His life - even if we initially are doing it for the wrong reasons. And once we start the journey, He will guide us (and test us) to increase our sincerity, faith, and natural love for Him.

These points illustrate the character of a truly loving, merciful and wise God.

“Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? ..." (Matthew 7:9-12)

“Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him! In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." (Matt. 7:9-12)

What does Jesus mean by this hypothetical?

Jesus is explaining, using a symbolic hypothetical situation, the Supreme Being's unconditional love for us.

The care that a parent has is compared to God's love because a parent would care about a son regardless of whether the son is rejecting the parent or has rejected the parent in the past.

This is the reality of the situation between the Supreme Being and ourselves at this point. He unconditionally loves us and therefore He is always ready and willing to forgive us, and take care of us.

This also illustrates His impartiality. He is attentive to all His children, not necessarily just the better ones.

Who is Jesus saying is 'evil'?

Jesus also makes an important and revealing statement here regarding "evil." He says:
“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children ..."
The assumption of Jesus within this text is that the people he is speaking to - the crowd, his students and disciples - are all "evil." Notice that "evil" is not being described as some alien-looking guy with big horns.

Rather, Jesus clearly indicates the people around him - those he was speaking to - are "evil." Why?

And if Jesus' disciples and students were "evil" what to speak of us?

We must also realize that each of us living self-centered lives in physical bodies, ignoring the Supreme Being in all or some aspect of our lives, is "evil." This is because evil is the condition of being self-centered.

Those of us who reside here in the physical world reside here specifically because of our self-centeredness - which gives birth to envy and greed. The spiritual world is that place of selfless love and compassion - and that place where the Supreme Being is the center of everyone's lives.

For those of us who rejected this consciousness, we were given temporary physical bodies to gain the freedom from God we were seeking.

And because God loves us and wants us back, this physical environment is set up to re-educate us to the fact that we will only be happy and fulfilled if we resume our innate spiritual consciousness - where the Supreme Being is the center of our lives.

Naturally, we all prefer to be treated fairly and cared for. This is because the Supreme Being cares for us and He treats us all impartially and fairly.

He gives us what we need, teaches us with love, and wants us to be spiritually happy.

This doesn’t mean that we always get what we want. Just because we think we are going to be happy if we get a red sports car doesn’t mean that we will be happy if we get the car.

In the same way, a child might think he or she will be happy if he or she has candy for dinner. The child’s parents know better. They know that eating candy for dinner will only lead to blood sugar problems, mood issues and the like. Therefore, because the parents love the child, they will give the child healthy food.

Does God teach us through consequences?

God designed the physical world to teach us through the use of consequences for our actions. Should we hurt others, we are eventually hurt. When we are kind, people are kind back. This world was designed by the Supreme Being to be a classroom that teaches us, tests us, and grades us.

Treating others the way we wish to be treated is considered the bottom line of the laws of the Prophets because it wraps together caring for others. The ultimate in caring for others is to put ourselves in someone else's shoes and treat them the way we want to be treated.

By treating others the way we want to be treated, the consequence is that we end up being treated in the same way we treat others. Our kindness to others returns kindness to us. This is universal because this is God's law, as Jesus states:
"For you will be treated as you treat others." (Matt. 7:2 NLT)
This doesn't mean that the world doesn't still present us with lessons each moment. Sometimes we are learning lessons from previous lifetimes and the decisions we made during those lifetimes.

God teaches through the events of the physical world that material things will not make us happy. For this reason, we usually have to work hard for those things, and then when we get them, we are let down.

This is because the Supreme Being loves us and is trying to teach us what will actually make us happy: to love and serve Him in our natural position within the spiritual realm.

It is for this reason that Jesus says:
"...do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets."
In other words, all of the Ten Commandments can be followed if we are truly caring, loving and serving God and His children.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate ..." (Matthew 7:13-14)

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." (Matthew 7:13-14)

What is the 'wide gate' and the 'broad road'?

This statement is often interpreted by sectarian teachers to be a discussion of money. While money may be an element within the topic, Jesus' metaphorical discussion runs deeper.

Jesus is describing two possible paths one can take in life. What are they?

“Destruction” is being translated from the Greek word ἀπώλεια (apōleia) which can also mean, according to the Greek lexicon, "the destruction which consists of eternal misery in hell."

In other words, it is the state of one's spiritual destruction: our continued ignorance of our relationship with the Supreme Being. This is the sum and substance of hell.

"Wide is the gate and broad is the road" is the description given of the choice that leads to "destruction."

The broad road is the easy path. The path of least resistance. It is the materialistic path. The path of following those who do not worship the Supreme Being. The path of focusing upon the temporary pleasures and accolades of the physical body.

Most people determine their path by what others are doing. They follow the crowd because they yearn for the respect and admiration of others. This results in them following whatever the trends are, thinking if “everyone else is doing it, it must be right.”

This is the broad path because it is quite easy to follow the crowd. It is easy because there is little resistance from others. On this path, we fit in. As long as we fit in, we are comfortable in that others approve of our life direction and our decisions as we go.

What is the 'narrow gate'?

The more difficult - and therefore more narrow - path is to strictly follow the core teachings of Jesus, Moses, Abraham and other exalted devoted servants of the Supreme Being, who instructed us to focus our lives and energies not upon what others are doing, but upon loving and pleasing God.

These great teachers taught us not only with their words but with their lives that we should focus our energies upon what is pleasing to God, disregarding the whims of our society and regardless of what fits in. This the narrow road because it is difficult, and others will not understand us.

This is precisely the meaning of Jesus' allowing his physical body to be persecuted and tortured upon the cross. Many sectarian institutions and their teachers focus upon Jesus' suffering as some kind of ritualistic sacrifice so they can feel "saved." But the true lesson and meaning of Jesus' sacrifice - and the manner in which it can "save" us - was to illustrate to us that the physical body, and all of the trappings of this world, including comfort, money, and the acceptance of others, is not worth sacrificing our relationship with the Supreme Being.

Let's break this down a bit more. We know by Jesus' actions by that he was not concerned about the life of his body since he allowed his body to be arrested and beaten. He did not try to avert the situation during his trial. During the trial, he did not deny or downplay his teachings because he considered those teachings - the lessons he gave to us regarding the Supreme Being - as more important than the physical comfort of his body.

And he endured the condemnation of others during and following the trial.

Yes, Jesus personally showed how to endure the narrow path.

This also illustrates the last point in this statement: “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

What does Jesus mean by 'the life'?

If we follow the example Jesus left us regarding "life," we know that the "life" Jesus is speaking of has nothing to do with the life of the physical body. Otherwise, Jesus would have averted being captured and traveled to another land once he understood he was to be arrested. He would have done whatever needed to be done to keep his body alive.

Furthermore, his actions of overturning the selling tables at the synagogue and otherwise teaching in the temple courtyards inflamed the situation. He would not have done this for fear of being condemned.

So as we examine the combination of Jesus' teachings and his entire life, including his willingness to endure the pain and condemnation of those that tortured him, we should honor and understand that Jesus himself took the ultimate "narrow path."

To understand the meaning of the "life" Jesus describes, we must remember that Jesus sought in all circumstances to do God's will. This was "life" to Jesus. Jesus prayed:
"My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as You will."(Matt. 26:39)
Jesus' concern was doing the will of His Father. He was wanting to please the Supreme Being. This is the "life" that Jesus is speaking of.

This is also the element of Jesus' disappearance that will "save" us. Jesus endured ridicule, torture and even the death of his body in order to please God and do God's will. We are saved by realizing this and acting upon it - by attempting to take the narrow road ourselves in a practical way (and not imitating).

Jesus made access to this narrow road very clear with his most important instruction:
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." (Matthew 22:37)