Matthew Lesson 7 Day 2
The Sermon on the Mount continues
Pleasing our Creator
3a) Deeds of righteousness
True righteousness is a heart condition. Don’t do good works to be praised by people.
If the works of righteousness are done in secret, then when our Father sees, he will reward us.
Give for the
b) Don’t be like the hypocrites.
Jesus gives three examples of how to practice piety (religious devotion and reverence) differently than the hypocrites and Pharisees. He says to give, pray, and fast in secret.
Hypocrite—”In Bible days actors wore masks, which included mechanisms for amplifying the voice. Since the dramas were questions and answers, the word describing the dialogue was hypokrinomai, ‘to reply or to answer.’ Hypokrites means one who is playacting, reading a script, or one who puts on an act. The hypocrite conceals his true motives under a cloak of make-believe.” 4
Giving to the needy
Trumpets were blown during feasts, the largest Israelite gatherings during those days. Perhaps this is the trumpet sounding Jesus refers to. A large audience provides a greater opportunity to draw attention to the giver. However, it could also humiliate the person in need.
They have their reward and should not expect to receive one from God.
During my lifetime, most Christians give through a church and expect the church to use some of that money to help the poor. Some have a food pantry or a food drive during holidays. I’m sure some fellowships do more than others, but it concerns me that many churches have such large budgets for staff, buildings, and maintenance. The ones I’ve attended did very little.
We know of three individuals who set up outreach ministries: one provides tutoring, school supplies, clothes, etc. to the children in a trailer park; another to young men released from prison; and another to the poor who slip through the cracks. The latter arranged to pick up produce, packaged food, and refrigerated items grocery stores were pulling from their shelves. He also had a storage unit for donated furniture and other miscellaneous household items he could distribute as needed.
One time we had an extra mattress to donate. Somehow he knew about a couple in their sixties who just moved to our area for a job. They were sleeping on the floor. After they came to pick up the mattress, it just broke our hearts to hear how they’d struggled. Their gratitude was all the reward we needed. (I just ruined any additional reward by sharing this.)
Giving to a church
Jesus doesn’t mention this type of giving here, but as I mentioned above, most Christians give through an institutional church.
To be noticed, some “toot their own horn,” put a check directly in the pastor’s hand, or hang the “thank you” plaque in their office.
Because I have several pastors in my family, I’ve heard stories of deacons and elders who gained their foothold because their generosity was vital to the church. In some cases, they donated land, took care of maintenance repairs, etc. Few pastors are willing to stand up to their manipulation and control for fear of losing their jobs.
Some call this a political spirit because it’s so common in the world’s systems.
Don’t let your right hand know what your left hand is doing.
If it was possible, we should hide our giving from ourselves.
It isn’t always possible to give anonymously either but we shouldn’t do our good works to be praised by man.
“Keep the thing so secret that even you yourself are hardly aware that you are doing anything at all praiseworthy. Let God be present, and you will have enough of an audience.” (Spurgeon)1
Jesus’ point is still focused on our heart’s motive. Do we help the needy because we have compassion for them and want to bless them or in obedience to God, or is it to draw attention to ourselves?
When we pray
Don’t pray to get noticed by other people.
“Jesus doesn’t criticize praying in public, but He does condemn pretentious, ostentatious prayer that attracts attention”5 to the person.
Vain repetition—”Any and all prayer which is mostly words and no meaning; all lips and no mind or heart.”1
Pray for real, not for show, so pray in secret. God will reward us openly. Someone suggested we pray aloud to help us stay on track. Another option is to write them.
Jesus prayed privately, often when his disciples were asleep.
Again, don’t be like the hypocrites who want everyone to notice. So they make it obvious.
Someone suggested, “No heavy sighs so others will ask us what’s wrong.”
4) Matthew 5:14-16 and Matthew 6:1-4
- Forgive them;
- Share with the needy privately so we don’t embarrass them;
- Don’t make a show of our spirituality in order to make others think we are better than they are nor to receive their respect or praise.
- He sees what we do and knows our motivations.
- He rewards us for caring about others.
- He rewards us for seeking Him with a pure heart.
- He knows what we need even before we ask Him.
- He forgives us when we forgive others.
- Stay in one on one private communication with our heavenly Father
- Praise and lift up his name
- Ask for his kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven
- Ask for forgiveness of our debts
- Ask that we not be led into temptation or testing
- Deliver us from the evil one
5) Who am I trying to please?
From ministers to deacons, to teachers, to those who do menial tasks because they want to appear humble—we like to be noticed and appreciated.
The church organization often plays into this natural human desire by publicly recognizing individuals and encouraging hard work.
I only recalled one that made a practice of only thanking volunteers privately. They felt it was a better way.
b) By public displays of ministry and other spiritual activities, we receive an earthly reward. If we are doing the work for the approval and praise of a pastor, or teacher, or congregation, or denomination—we miss out on a “well done good and faithful servant” from our heavenly father.
c) The earthly reward—the praise, respect, honor, and attention—is all they can hope to receive.
d) To receive God’s reward, our relationship with Him must be in the secret place. Our service to others should be done with correct motives without trying to draw attention to ourselves.
Check my motives—Even doing things in secret can be done with the wrong motive. I have this theory that our rewards will be for things we hardly recall doing. Only then is the Holy Spirit truly leading us—the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing.
Join the discussion on our FACEBOOK PAGE
1 EnduringWord.com used by written permission.
2 AWM Living Commentary used by written permission.
3 Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations from *The ESV Bible® (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®) copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
4 Strong’s Concordance, public domain.
5 *Spirit Filled Life Bible®copyright © 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. (The Holy Bible, New King James Bible) copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
6 Ellicott’s Commentary, public domain.
7 Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, public domain.
8 The Names of God Bible (without notes) © 2011 by Baker Publishing Group.
* This is an affiliate link, which means if you click the link and make a purchase, we will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.
Visit https://www.mybsf.org/ for a study near you and to download the weekly questions.
My answers, research, and notes for BSF Bible Study Fellowship questions Matthew Lesson 7 Day 2