“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Right. Should I take your Bibles this morning? As we reflect on the teaching of that high and lifted up God, Matthew chapter six, we’re going to be looking at verses one through four this morning. As we return again to our series sermon on the Mount, which is entitled, we’re entitling the upside down life.
We’re going to be looking at these verses in a little bit, um, verses one through four, but you know, there’s a natural progression that children make. First, they start as infants and they move into being toddlers. And then around age four, they become detectives. A lot of questions. I was reading, um, a site this week.
I don’t remember how I got there, but it was about, um, Questions that kids had to parents. And I just had a, a few here. One of this was written by a father it’s it’s him talking about the child, the child’s question and his response to it at dinner. My five-year-old asks what’s the difference between cooking and baking.
I said, that’s easy. You bake things like cookies. And then my mind exploded. Uh, mom said, my son asked me, where does poo come from? I was a little uncomfortable, but gave him an honest explanation. He looked a little perplexed and stared at me in stunned silence for a few seconds and asked and Tigger
And of course, many of those questions become why questions, mom? Why does dad’s car. Go so much faster than yours. Some of us are in the grandparent stage and are getting questions like grandpa. Why do you have wrinkles on your neck and the worst one, which literally made me feel like a a hundred year old, man.
Why did you say hang up the phone?
then there can be pretty significant why questions that are a little more unveiling.
Why are you guys so angry as we drive to church? And so nice when we get there. Jesus, in Matthew chapter six is beginning a passage. Emphasizing the question why it’s an yeah, interesting passage because it is an eyeopening passage and it would have been that to those that were listening because he deals with the three practices sometimes called the pillars of Jewish faith of those of the day.
He talks to them about giving, particularly giving to the needy. He talks to them about prayer beginning at verse five to verse 15. And in verse 16 to 18, he talks about fasting. These were spiritual practices that were foundational to ones devotion to God. If you were faithful in fasting and praying and giving faithfully and generously, you would feel you were punching the right buttons in your spiritual life.
As a matter of fact, those who were most faith. Most prayerful, most delis and giving most consistent in fasting. We’re perceived as God’s 18 and Jesus comes along and says not so fast. And in this passage, Jesus looks beneath the surface. Not only on those practices, he actually takes their best practices, which seemed most spiritual, most devoted, devoted to God oriented and causes us to ask the question, why, why am I doing this?
Why am I doing it this way? Why am I doing it here? Jesus is trying to open the eyes of his listeners about what living as a Christian is really about the why of what you do is vitally important. Now, as we begin this passage and I’m going to read it now in just a moment, Verse one is actually a summary statement for the next 18 verses.
It’s the principle he’s going to address. And then he’s going to do it, uh, by illustration with giving with prayer and with fasting. My focus this morning is going to be primarily on verse one. I’ll talk a little bit about verses two through four, as it illustrates the principle. Here’s what we read in Matthew chapter six, verses one through four, be aware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them for then you will have no reward from your father who is in heaven.
Thus, when you give to the needy sound, no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets that they may be praised by others. Truly I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing so that you’re giving maybe in secret and your father who sees in secret we’ll reward you father.
We do come to you this morning, Lord week, um, in the midst of all that’s going on in our lives. And we ask that now your spirit would still us to interact with truth, Lord, thank you that our calling is not to focus on an external religious performance, but an internal spiritual transformation. Thank you that you give us the power to experience that every day.
So Lord, speak to us from this, this passage in this simple study together, I pray in Jesus. Amen in verse one, we see three vital aspects of living as a member of Jesus’ kingdom. And we’re going to see him talk about our approach, our audience, and our ambition, your approach, while living in Jesus’ kingdom.
He says this in the beginning of verse one, beware of practicing your righteousness before others, right out of the gate, he talks about the fact that we must focus on inward motivation. We must be asking the why it’s interesting. He uses the word, be aware, be aware, take note of it, focus on it. Process what is really driving your heart when you, these activities, whether it’s giving or praying or fasting, or actually whatever you’re doing in your daily lives.
Not only those things that are purportedly spiritual activities as all should be actually. But evaluate what is the heart motive in this situation? Now, Jesus is saying here, if you’re making donations or giving to the poor and you don’t get a plaque for it, do you want to do it? And he says, why, why do you need a plaque?
Why do you need to be recognized? Why? And he’s talking about motivation. One of the best ways to check our motivation I think is to watch our emotions, right? I mean, this can happen in spiritual ministry. It can be a planning, meeting, a church or an activity that you sponsor or you’re in charge of. And you have a certain number of people you’re prepared for.
You’re expecting to come and less than half of them show up and the others didn’t tell you, they weren’t coming. And you’re ticked off for half the meeting, maybe the whole meeting, but part of it’s really your, your lunch. And I think Jesus would come and say why? Because actually.
Jesus is still at work with the people that are there. Jesus is still involved. Half the people did show up. You still have half the people to invest in, but why are we upset? Well, it could be a variety of things. One, we don’t want to have to have another meeting to make up and to have to bring the people along with us.
Another is a might be ticked off. It’s just, we had this vision of how the meeting would go and I would look in the camera, common thread. We will find for all the reasons why we’re upset as basically as it’s about us. We’re irritated, we’re frustrated, we’re disappointed and it’s manifesting itself. And Jesus is saying just because you’re doing good things, make sure the motivation behind them.
Now Jesus, in this passage is talking about giving, but I don’t think his primary focus is about giving money in the right spot. He’s primarily talking about, you need to face your heart, you need to do it. And you’re giving you need to do it in every aspect of your life. Spiritual people must face their heart because the heart is the control center of all that we do.
He also emphasizes in this word, be aware, we must exercise constant inventory, the word, be aware. It’s actually a very, it’s an imperative verb. He is saying that it’s in the present tense, which simply means it’s a continuous activity. You got to keep doing this constantly having to be vigilant. It’s a constant priority in practice to be evaluating.
What’s driving me here. My emotions can be tip-off. Um, as one author, I think brilliantly said it, it, whenever you find your emotions out of control or you see ungodly emotions or responses, and you pull the plant of that activity up, you will find it. The roots, some idol, the idol that is actually controlling your heart.
There’s this constant evaluation. He says, it’s why I personally, I believe as a card carrying wooden headed male journaling is essential for me, man. I don’t know that I really knew anything that was really going on inside of me until years ago, I started journaling and writing down my prayers, writing down things I’m hearing from scripture and interacting and writing down the things I’m concerned about or worried about, and then giving them over to God.
It enables us to evaluate and see what’s going on. Why am I upset? What did I want? What’s happening here. Jesus is directing us and he is seeing your approach to spiritual life. To living with God has to be foundationally inward addressed an inward addressing because it is out of the heart that everything flows.
The second thing he talks about in terms. Spiritual living, living as a member of his kingdom is our audience. He says this in verse one again, don’t do your acts of righteousness. Don’t practice your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them for then you will have no reward from your father who is in heaven.
He later talks about in terms of giving, do it in secret. Don’t let anyone else be aware of it. Don’t make them the object. Because your father then is the one that you serve and you kiss your audience while living in Jesus’ kingdom can be other people. Now, this is a little confusing because in Matthew chapter five in the sermon on the Mount, Jesus has already said this in verse 16, let your light shine before others so that they may see your good works and give glory to your father in heaven.
So, so how do you put these two together? He says, do things anonymously and then he says, do it. So others will see, well, of course the motivation is the issue. He says, if you’re doing it before others in order that they will commend you, you have actually turned even a good thing into a destructive thing in your own life.
Or you can do it in order that they may give glory to your father in heaven. The question is where the glory going to go to me or to somebody or to God.
In verse two, we read this as he illustrates this in the area of giving verse two. Thus, when you give to the needy sound, no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets that they may be praised by others. Truly. I say to you, they have received their reward. He doesn’t say, if you give, he says, whenever, when you give there’s an assumption, and he’s not saying these practices are not appropriate and necessary in the kingdom living with him, but he does say the way you do it, don’t do it as the hypocrites.
Do the word hypocrite Hippocratic treatise is actually it’s the word translated mask. It was what the actors wore. It actually was. If you wanted to play the role of somebody or something, you, you put a mask and that mask identified your character. It’s the role you’re playing. And Jesus says, don’t, don’t be like those that wear the mask when they give, what is he saying?
He’s saying, well, the mask is, I am a benevolent, generous hearted, devoted to God person. That’s why I’m giving this money. I’m moved with the needs of others, but he says, it’s a, it’s a mask. It’s an act job. That’s not, what’s really driving their heart. It’s actually to be identified by other people and to be praised by others.
He says those hypocrites are those that announce it with trumpets as a variety of interpretations of this. Some people say that actual were trumpets, but there’s no record historical record anywhere of anybody actually having trumpets that announced giving some people, which is a little more palatable, I think say, identify that the box where you gave your gift.
Well, it’s actually in the shape of a trumpet. And the idea was you, you, you deliberately flipped your coins in, so they made noise when they went in. I personally think he’s not real. He’s more speaking symbolically. It’s sort of like, don’t toot your own horn. I mean, don’t draw attention to yourself. Don’t, don’t do that, which is going to give you praise and recognition from others.
Do it rather in secret. That can be one audience, other people somehow being esteemed and appreciated admire, but he says the other alternative is your father in heaven.
Jesus, in Matthew five through seven presents the theme of God as our father in a dramatic way, you can see that on the. Screen up until this time and throughout the old Testament, God, his father is a very obscure concept. It is there, but usually it is presenting God as a fatherly figure that he’s the father of Israel or, or as a father, does it pities his children?
So God does, but Jesus is saying something more as he really dives into the heart of kingdom, living teaching in Matthew five through seven, he’s saying, no, no, I’m inviting you to join the fan. I’m inviting you to make God your father and 17 times he talks about God as our father. It is the emphasis of the intimacy, the personal nature of our relationship with the cosmos, creating the cosmic.
Overseeing God J I packer his classic work, knowing God says it this way, you sum up the whole of new Testament, religion. If you describe it as the knowledge of God is one’s holy father. If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of God, of being God’s child and having God as his father.
If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers in his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christian, not very well at all. Father is the Christian name for God.
Some talk about the audience of one. It’s a beautiful concept that we’re living in the secret parts of our lives. That what we’re doing, even overtly that when we examine our hearts, we say, God, as much as I can discern my soul. I want you to be my audience. I want you to be the one that I trust in. I want to believe that you are at work in my life and that whatever you’re allowing, whatever you’re purposing for my life.
This is a moment for me to glorify you and, and not to look how I can, can exalt myself or be exp be impressing others. We’re called to live in the,
the theater where the audience has God, the old Christian historians and theologians had a term Corum Dale in the presence of God. That’s how they challenged people to live their lives. No matter where you are, no matter what’s going on this morning, as you’re here in church in your car, when you’re going all the things that are going to go on today and tomorrow and the next.
It says live as if you’re in the aware that you’re in your corn Dale in the very presence of God and that the things that are be allowed into your life, God is giving you the opportunity to respond in such a way that you would say God, in this go her fire yourself. You’re my audience. Jesus is pulling it back and saying, man, if you’re giving and the audience is people, if you’re praying and the audience is people, if you’re fast, I think in the audiences, people, you have turned something healthy, just something drew tremendously unhealthy in your life.
And then he talks about our ambition while living in Jesus’ kingdom. He talks about here in verse one, You will have no reward from your father. And I’d like to read down through verses two through four, one more time. Thus, when you give to the needy sound, no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogue and in the streets that they may be praised by others.
Truly. I say to you that they have received their reward, but when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing so that you’re giving may be in secret. And your father who is in secret reward, you it’s a comparison of two sources of reward. You can seek your reward in one of those two places, you can do it from others, from people.
And he says, you might be able to do things to be praised by others. You might be able to receive from them, their appreciation, maybe their admiration, and you may be successful. But when you get that it’s over, that’s all there is. I think that that is something where God is now bringing those same things, or he says, you can look to God for it’s seeking God’s praise.
God’s commendation, honestly, embracing the concept of the audience of one that which is found in the secret place of a heart devoted to God. And he says to us in verses two through four, that we will be rewarded in the arena we pursue. And your father who sees in secret will reward you. That’s true in this life that I believe God clearly is indicating we will have.
Reward from God in this world. Now I don’t believe that it’s talking about prosperity position finances, uh, as a guarantee, I don’t think God is saying you do this and I’ll, I’ll, I’ll do all these things for you. I think the motivation that I, you know, I wanna, I wanna give right nearly to the Lord ties my money because then God will, will shower, blessing upon me.
He may, I think that’s the motivation. He say we do it because we love him. And we are blessed by him, but not necessary verily that we’re going to find our finances have exploded. So what is he talking about when he says, and your father who sees in secret rule reward you well, The problem that he’s talking about is the danger is saying is you’re living to get the approval and the appreciation and the praise of people.
And if you get that, he says you have it and maybe enjoy it, but that’s all there is, that’s it. So what is the other side? I believe it’s talking about the approval, the appreciation, the enjoyment of God. He’s saying we can live our lives to have God’s favor in our lives. God’s enjoyment in Psalm 1 47 university has become very special in my own life.
In verse 11, God is talking about, he says I don’t delight in, in the, the, uh, the legs of, of the warrior. I don’t delight in him is war Steed. He says, but I delight in the purse who hopes in my my unfailing love. He says those who trust and hope in my unfilling of those are the ones. It’s not their skills, their power, their strength this past week on Tuesday, I got a phone call from a guy that I served on, uh, the mission board with for a number of years, he had actually become our interim director, did an incredible job.
And we talked for quite a while. He just was calling to check in. And as we talked, we had, uh, connection about life, family, what was going on and get thinking about ministry. And he told the story I had not known years ago. He had been a very, I knew this part. He had been a very prominent pastor in Florida.
He had a mega church and evangelical church, and there were things that were. Slanderous statements that were made about him years ago. And
it came loud enough, even though there was an investigation and he was completely cleared. He said, I wasn’t cleared in the church. And he said, I had to step down. And he said for 17 years, um, I was never allowed to go back or invited to speak at the church or anything. And he said at the end of 17 years, they invited me to come back and they, they did, uh, a public apology to him and to his wife, Janie.
And he said to me, mark, 17 years, a long time, but then he said this,
but what God showed me about himself, I wouldn’t trade it for it. What’s he saying, he’s the reward. He’s the reward to have him delight in you to have him say, this is what I want. I love my children that, that are, that are holding onto one thing. They’re, they’re hoping that my love won’t fail. That they’re trusting in that I was with a friend from our church this week and they have gone through astounding circumstances as a couple, as a family.
And he was talking about passage in first Corinthians 13 about faith and hope and love. And it was an interesting take on it. And he said, you know, I believe love endures because love is who God is. It will never end, never stop, but he says faith and hope. They’re the means for us to embrace. God’s love.
We, we trust him. We, we believe in him. We hope in him and they’ve gone through real suffering as, as parents and circumstantially, but he said, you know, my wife is, we’ve been talking about this. She made this statement. She said,
the invitation, uh, faith and hope comes in an envelope. And it’s the invitation to put our faith and hope in God’s love. But she said, usually the envelope is suffering. I love that. I found the true moon life that God allows purposes, hard things in our lives and says, this is an opportunity. This is an invitation to put your faith and your trust and your hope in me and my unfailing love that’s exactly what Psalm 1 47 verse 11 is saying, what does God delight in those who hope, who take the invitation to hope?
Now, there are some of us that get the invitation and it comes in the form of suffering. We say, I’m not open to that invitation. I don’t want anything to do with it. I want to run from him. Oh, God says you can embrace the invitation because here’s the invitation to put your hope and your faith in love.
The reward is God. It’s his delight in you? It’s his enjoyment of you. It’s you tasting. And his unfailing love,
but there also is the reward in the life to come. The whole subject of rewards of course, is kinda hard for us because it sounds like, man, it sounds like a barter system. You, you walk with God and you get this, but I’d like to try to present it this way. As I wrap things up in revelation, chapter four and many times the scripture, a number of times, the scripture talks about rewards as crowns as a crown of life.
There’s other crowns that are given as, as honoring, like you’ve run the race and you are honored and revelation. Chapter four is the picture in heaven. And it talks about the 24 elders who most people believe. A representative of the 12 disciples of the, the era of the church and the 12 patriarchs of, of the tribes of Israel.
And so it’s all of God’s people gathered together in these elders. And it says this in verse 10 and 11 chapter four, the 24 elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever, they cast their crowns before the throne saying worthy, are you, oh Lord and God to receive glory and honor and power for you created all things.
And by your will they existed and were created the rewards in the picture of it is yes there’s there’s honor. There’s some sense that the Bema, the judgment seat of Christ, which is for believers in which he says well done. And there were, there were special ways that you allowed me to be real in your life and to work through your life and to sustain you.
You received the letters with grace of invitation, even when they came in the form of the envelope of suffering. And you said, I will trust him. I will love him. I will depend on him. I will hope in his unfailing love,
but they take those crowns and they just, Lord, it’s all you from start to finish. Now, if you’re like me, you think, yeah, but there’s still this, since you’re going to feel uncomfortable. Oh man, I didn’t have enough of those. I don’t believe that’s going to be the feel. I think we’re going to then be in the presence of the Lord and there’s going to just be joy.
And even with other people casting their crap, maybe you don’t have as many crowds. But the joy of seeing crowns going before the feet of Christ is just going to be such a compelling picture. We’re all going to gather there, say he was, is worthy and it’s glorious to just say, Jesus, it was all you. It was all you, Jesus is saying to us here in Matthew, chapter six, he says, man, take time to evaluate your heart.
Be still before the Lord, make sure that your heart’s motivation is towards me. The more you do that, the more you enjoy me, the more you get the ultimate price, which is, you know, me more, you enjoy me more. You feel my delight. As you hope in my unfailing love.
There are times in most of our lives. If we’ve walked with Jesus for a while, when we’ve been tempted and whether it’s to lust or to worry, or to fear anger or whatever. And God’s enabled us to withstand that temptation and just say, Lord, I want you more when you’ve done that, didn’t you find joy in the Lord, man.
It didn’t make you feel like what a marvelous Christian I’m walking around as no, you think Lark I’m so grateful when I got the envelope and it was hard. And I said, I’m choosing to hope in your unfailing love, and then he sustains you and does something you didn’t see and couldn’t imagine happening.
And you look back and say, God, that was so wonderful that you were able me to trust you. What’s so wonderful to hope in your unfailing. Love. Even the journey is our reward going to close with this? I do think Jesus is talking about giving it’s important. It’s a vital part, but he’s focusing on something here.
I don’t think Jesus is saying you have to give anonymously. We don’t give a check because somebody will see it. Don’t give in order to get the IRS Bennett, you know, which is which isn’t a good anymore. Anyway, but, but, but I would suggest this maybe just a practical thought sometimes give anonymous.
hear if somebody’s in need, get some money together in cash and give it to them on the sly I’ve found in those times when God has prompted Marin and I to do that, it’s felt like the purest giving we’ve probably ever done. Nobody knew we don’t really even know in many of the cases, how it was perceived, what was done with it.
But I would suggest that just sometimes say, you know, let’s just spontaneously give and nobody will know. Even they will know.
The Lord always goes for the heart. It’s the control center of our lives. It’s not only our will. It’s our passion. He wants you passion. He wants your heart. He wants you to hope in his unfailing. Love to complete all these metaphors. I’ve thrown at you this morning. If right now you’re getting one of those envelopes and it’s in the envelope of suffering.
Remember it is an invitation to hope in his unfailing. Love. The beauty is as we do, we get him the best reward of all. Lord, you look in our hearts this morning, man. It’s so easy for us to be caught up in the rush and hurry of life even here in the summer. Lord, thank you that you pursue us. Even in Matthew five through seven, it’s just total pursuit.
Of Jesus after the hearts of people to not settle for other stuff, when they could have you Lord draws to you in Jesus name. Amen. Now go on peace to love and serve. Enjoy .