Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Matthew 6:1-4 "From the Heart"

"Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

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 men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." NIV
This passage is the first of three acts of righteousness that Jesus will address -- giving to the needy, prayer, and fasting. All of them begin with the assumption that you will do them. It's not a suggestion or an "if" you will do them. Jesus is basically declaring that you will do these acts to live a holy life and be perfect "as your heavenly Father is perfect."

So first, we know we are to help those in need. The question is our motivation. Are we doing it only because Christ commanded it and we must be obedient? Is it coming from a fear for our salvation? Do we give to make ourselves feel better? Maybe it's to make ourselves look better in front of others. Or do we give as an act of love for our Lord and an extension of grace to others?

Jesus says be so oblivious to the personal gain of giving that your right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing. It's not about you, it's about the needs of God's creation. Must we live so insecurely that we have to be seen helping others to make us feel better about ourselves from the praises of men? What a sad and selfish generation we have become. We are to give generously and anonymously, and God will take care of our needs and reward us as He sees fit. This is a heart issue. Where is your heart focused?

Further Thoughts:
  1. Read John Gill's commentary on this passage.
  2. What is the relationship between "giving" and "generosity?" Support with Scripture.
  3. How do you know God cares about the poor? Give examples from Scripture.
  4. Have you helped someone in need lately? Give generously and without wanting anything in return. The Lord will reward you in due time.

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