When You GiveMatthew 6:1-4 HCSB1“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of people, to be seen by them.Otherwise, you will have no reward from your Father in Heaven. 2 So whenever yougive to the poor, don’t sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in thesynagogues and on the streets, to be applauded by people. I assure you: They’ve gottheir reward! 3 But when you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what yourright hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father Who seesin secret will reward you.” Matthew 6:1-4 HCSBJesus knew all of us are naturally self-centered, so He cautioned:“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of people, to be seen by them”(v. 1).Jesus earlier had said we are to do our good works “before men, so that they maysee” them and glorify the Father (5:16).So in Matthew 6:1, was He saying the opposite?The greatest difference between the two verses lies in motivation.In 5:16, the motive is to glorify the Father, not to be seen.In 6:1, the motive is to be seen, not to glorify the Father.The word translated “to be seen” in 6:1 has the same root from which we get theEnglish word theater.If we make our acts of righteousness a theatrical performance in which we have theleading role, we need expect no applause from the Father.He has no reward for that kind of service.
Last week in Matthew chapter 5 we saw where Jesus used six examples ofrighteousness that surpassed that of scribes and Pharisees. Those examples had to dowith relating to people:Practice mercy rather than murder, faithfulness to spouses in thought and deed,marriage building rather than marriage breaking, be known for truthfulness ratherthan deception, forgiveness rather than retaliation, and love rather than hate.Here in 6:1-18 He used three examples to illustrate righteousness in religious devotionthat surpassed that of scribes and Pharisees.The first is giving, which does relate to people.Giving also, along with praying and fasting, was considered to be an act of spiritualdevotion to God.Jesus obviously assumed His followers would be gracious givers, for He said,“whenever you give to the poor,” not “if you give”.Today, because taxes finance numerous social services for lower income people,some believers excuse themselves from personal charitable giving.An excuse is the skin of a reason.Highway patrolman and excuses…
Others avoid giving by wrongly stereotyping all poor people as unwilling to work,wanting something for nothing, or victims of their own bad choices—addicted, poorstewards, being sexually immoral, or committing crimes.When in reality, some were downsized, laid off, crushed by medical expenses,deserted or abused by spouses, scammed of resources, or are emotionally orphysically disabled.In either case, children often are materially and emotionally deprived.Granted, poverty seems to be a puzzle society can’t solve (Matthew 26:11).Matthew 26:1111 “You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me.” Matthew 26:11That does not excuse us for failing to help wisely and generously whenever we can(Matthew 6:2).Matthew 6:2a“So whenever you give to the poor …” Matthew 6:2a
Jesus warned against using giving as a means of gaining people’s admiration assome do. He called them hypocrites, pretenders, actors playing a role for theacclaim of an audience (v. 2).The reference to sound a trumpet before youis almost certainly a figure of speech similar toour “blow your own horn.”Some give in ways calculated to win admiration and recognition from people.Jesus said that would be their reward, a word meaning “paid in full”.That is what they wanted, and that was all they’d get.“Don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing”. The first filling I ever did.Those words depict graphically Jesus’ point: Giving that honors and pleases theFather is secret rather than showy (v. 4).People don’t see secret acts, but the Father does.He rewards giving done from motives that glorify Him.What kind of rewards does God hand out?Remember, the Father’s rewards are given by grace, not by obligation.Jesus taught that giving to the needy provides for us “an inexhaustible treasure,” butHe qualified that by adding “in Heaven”.
Rewards of heavenly treasures are spiritual in nature.We do receive rewards on this side of Heaven.Among them are a good conscience, inner joy, a clearer perspective on materialwealth, and a closer walk with the Lord.Although Jesus’ illustration is about helping materially impoverished people, weshould also recognize our need for helping spiritually impoverished people as well.We can do that through giving tithes and through our special offerings:Margaret Lackey Offering For State MissionsFBCJ goal: $50,000.00Given to date: $26,256.00These funds go to: Christian Women’s/Men’s Job CorpsMargaret Lackey Funds:College Outreach/B. J. Frew, Criminal Justice Ministry,New Church Starts, Central Hills Campground,Community Missions, Camp Garaywa,Port Ministries, Cross Cultural Evangelism,Disaster Relief, Language/Deaf Ministries,Mission Volunteers
Lottie Moon (international),Annie Armstrong (national),Margaret Lackey (state),Mission First Inc. (local),&this Sunday School class.These offerings meet both physical and spiritual needs.May God help us to give generously from motives that please Him.RIGHT MOTIVESWhen You Give Matt. 6:1-4When You Pray Matt. 6:5-13When You Fast Matt. 6:16-18When You PrayMatthew 6:5-13 HCSB5 “Whenever you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites, because they love topray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by people. Iassure you: They’ve got their reward! 6 But when you pray, go into your private room,shut your door, and pray to your Father Who is in secret. And your Father Who sees insecret will reward you. 7 When you pray, don’t babble like the idolaters, since theyimagine they’ll be heard for their many words. 8 Don’t be like them, because yourFather knows the things you need before you ask Him.9 Therefore, you should pray like this: Our Father in Heaven, Your name be honored as holy.10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.11 Give us today our daily bread.12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.13 And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.]” Matthew 6:5-13 HCSBThe second example is about whenever you pray (v. 5), indicating Jesus indeedexpects us to pray. He did not prescribe pharisaical legalistic rules about when or howoften that should be.
His personal example, however, presents good guidelines for us.He often prayed early at the beginning of the day.At times, He prayed all night, especially before major decisions or significant events.Jesus cited three kinds of prayer to avoid.First, don’t pray as those who loved to be seen praying in synagogues and on streetcorners(v. 5).When Jesus was here the first time, the religious authorities believed it was necessaryto pray at specific times of the day, and would often make sure they were in largecrowds of people when those times arose so that they could be seen and heard byall.Jesus did not approve of this.In Luke 18, we have the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector.Both men prayed out loud and in public: the tax collector prayed earnestly to Godand was justified; the Pharisee prayed to himself and was not.Scripture does not tell us to not pray in public.The Bible does tell us to not pray in such a way as to try to exalt ourselves.
There are also many examples in the Bible of group prayer or praying in front ofothers: Solomon prayed publicly in dedicating the temple (1 Kings 8:22-61). Daniel prayed alone in his room, but by an open window where he could be seen (Daniel 6:10-11). The Church prayed for Peters miraculous release from prison (Acts 12:5). Jesus prayed in public “because of the crowd standing here” so they might believe that God sent Him. (John 11:42)John 11:41-4441 “So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised His eyesand said,“Father, I thank You that You heard Me. 42 I knowthat You always hear Me, but because of the crowdstanding here I said this, so they may believe You sent Me.”43 After He said this, He shouted with a loud voice,“Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out boundhand and foot with linen strips and with his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him and let him go.” John 11:41-44 Matthew 6:5 warns of praying FOR public attention not for praying IN public. Hypocrites are really praying for personal attention from others.They have their reward when they get their public attention.Apparently, during synagogue worship, people considered it an honor to be asked tocome to the front and lead the congregation in prayer.Evidently some observed the times of the morning and evening prayers whereverthey happened to be.Nothing is wrong with lifting praying hands in the midst of other worshipers or on streetcorners, and loving to pray is certainly commendable.Jesus was cautioning against praying in public with the motive of receiving admiringglances and pats on the back for being so devout.At least a few observers saw through such hypocrisy then as they do now.The Lord certainly did.A second mistake when praying is to babble like the idolaters (v. 7).
Jesus warned against a high word-to-substance ratio in prayer: Pagan prayers at the time believed that there was power in continuous repetition of words, that if you said a word often enough, then you could eventually own that object or claim that power for yourself.Jesus condemned this.Word Study:Babble (Matt. 6:7) The word translated babble appears only here in the Bible. Because of the word’s sound, the basic meaning has been suggested as “to stammer,” that is, to repeat words. A derived meaning came to imply going on and on without thinking.Various translations are: “use vain or meaningless repetitions,” “heap up empty phrases,” “saying things that mean nothing” and the like.Prayer that is “babble” is prayer in form only; it has no substance.Jesus said idolaters prayed that way (for example the priests of Baal on MountCarmel).Layering on words doesn’t impress God, nor do prayers offered with the mind inneutral and the heart focused elsewhere.“In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart.” John BunyanJesus was not forbidding prayer for the same thing over and over. Matthew 26:39“My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.” Matthew 26:39Jesus prayed that same prayer three times in a row.He even told parables about persistence in prayer (Matthew 7:7-11).Nevertheless, we are not to stretch out our prayers as long as possible, erroneouslythinking many words ensure God’s positive response (6:7).
Jesus stressed that the Father listens to earnest hearts, not endless words, especiallywhen the words are mechanical.Who among us hasn’t offered “good” public prayers at church or at the table with adisengaged heart?Haven’t we also found our minds wandering as we prayed privately or as anotherprayed aloud?The Lord hears heartfelt prayers but ignores ego-centered and empty-headedperformances.Third, we need not feel compelled to inform God of endless details about our needs.Jesus reminded us the Father knows the things you need before you ask Him (v. 8).That’s a comforting thought, for we frequently have an incomplete and distortedpicture of what we truly need.This is not to discourage us from making specific requests in prayer, for He invites us todo that.It does assure us that He will answer in ways that best meet our needs, further Hiskingdom, and enhance our usefulness.Three kinds of prayer that Jesus warned us to avoid: praying to be seen babbling on and on informing God of detailJesus instructed us to find a private place for prayer where thoughts of people’sresponses won’t distract us.Thus in secret we can focus on the Father (v. 6).The greatest reward for praying may be simply having a personal conversation withGod; He Whom we cannot see sees us and hears us as well (v. 6).Jesus even provided a model prayer to show us how to pray.We can pray it as is or use it as a guide for our prayers.It begins with a focus on God and His purposes before moving to our personalrequests.
We don’t pray to the Great Someone in the Great Somewhere, but to our Father inHeaven (v9).Our view of God determines how we pray.Human fathers are not always the loving and wise providers, teachers, and examplestheir children need; but most of them want to be and try to be.God is the ideal Father — all-loving, all-knowing, all-wise, all-powerful, and alwayspresent with us.At the same time, He is in Heaven, which tells us He is greater than we cancomprehend; so we approach Him as our Father with due reverence.The pronoun our reminds us that a personal relationship with the Father brings us intorelationship with all who are in the family of faith.Nowhere in the model prayer do we find the singular pronouns me, my, or I.Love for God and concern for others are bundled together for those who by faithknow God as Father.The first request is that the Father’s name be honored as holy (v. 9).One’s name in Biblical thought stood for the person.The Father’s covenant name is Yahweh (Ex. 3:14).This petition is that God will help all people everywhere to recognize the Lord GodAlmighty as He revealed Himself in Jesus Christ and honor Him accordingly.
Your kingdom come could be translated: “Your reign come.” The kingdom has come in the hearts of all who have submitted to Jesus as Lord. It, also, is coming as more people yield their hearts to His reign. The kingdom will not have come fully, though, until Jesus returns and establishes it absolutely and forever.This petition asks the Father to bring people under His reign.We want His rule and His reign to take place in our hearts as readily as it takes placein Heaven. To pray for the Father to see that His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven frightens some. They fail to distinguish between what God desires and what He permits. He desires all to be saved, but He permits many to turn from Him. 2 Peter 3:9 9“God is not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9He desires all of us to keep His commands, but He permits our disobedience and thedestruction it causes.We live, therefore, in a world cursed by sin.Even so, the Father weaves even sin’s consequencesinto a pattern that ultimately will achieve His good will(Rom. 8:28).Presently, Heaven is the only place free of sin andits painful effects.The more God’s will is done on earth,the better off everyone will be.
The prayer’s focus shifts from God’s eternal purposes to our temporal needs.We are to request what we need to sustain life, such as daily bread (Matthew 6:11). Daily may be understood as “for today” or “for tomorrow,” in either case pointing to immediate need. This prayer reminds us that our Father ultimately is our Provider (provision) pro = before vision = to see As a wise Father, God provides what we need, not necessarily what we want.We also are to ask for forgiveness.Debts are sins viewed as obligations to the Father (v. 12).We dare not take lightly the rest of the verse: as we also have forgiven our debtors.
At least two Biblical teachings about salvation seem in conflict with the words forgiveus … as we also have forgiven: (1) Salvation is by grace through faith in Christ, not by works (Eph. 2:8-10). That rules out earning forgiveness by forgiving. (2) Faith in Christ brings forgiveness and eternal security.John 10:28-2928 “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch themout of My hand. 29 My Father, Who has given them to Me, is greater than all. No oneis able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”John 10:28-29 Noah fell down in the ark but he could never fall out of the ark. If He is strong enough to save you, He is strong enough to keep you saved.So what did Jesus mean when He said: forgive us … as we also have forgiven?Perhaps He meant one of two possibilities: (1) Believers who refuse to forgive will still be saved but penalized by losing their rewards (1 Cor. 3:10-15). 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 12 “If anyone builds on that foundation with gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or straw, 13 each one’s work will become obvious, for the day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire; the fire will test the quality of each one’s work. 14 If anyone’s work that he has built survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, it will be lost, but he will be saved; yet it will be like an escape through fire.” 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 (2) Those who disobey the Lord by refusing to forgive have not truly experienced God’s forgiveness (Matt. 7:21). “Prodigal pigs.” The faith that fizzles at the finish had a flaw from the first.When we’ve been dreadfully harmed by someone, forgiving can be difficult andseem almost impossible.Perhaps that’s the reason Jesus included forgiveness in His model prayer. We cannot forgive without divine help. Jesus made plain that forgiving each other was of paramount importance.We should trust Him to enable us to forgive others as we rejoice that He has forgivenus.
The final petition has puzzled many believers. Do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one (v. 13). (“Evil one” also can be translated “evil”; the essential meaning is the same.)We know God is good and does not tempt us to sin (James. 1:13), so how are we tounderstand this?A lot has been written about this.The overall meaning is obvious:the prayer is for the Father to keep us on the straight and narrow, that is, to keep usdoing His will rather than being led astray by Satan.A good approach to understanding Jesus’ words is simply to ask what the Father’sanswer to this request would be.Would it not be that the Father would lead us away from temptation, therebydelivering us from the evil one?Follow Him!
For Yours is the kingdom could tie it to the entire prayer or the preceding petition for the Lord to deliver us from evil. We can trust Him to lead us into paths of righteousness because His is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.Can we admit being a hypocrite in some ways is breathtakingly easy?We should accept Jesus’ challenge to spiritual integrity.For the Father’s sake, let’s cheerfully give to help others materially and spiritually withno thought of recognition.Let’s pray with honest, open, and sincere hearts for people to be saved and to growin Christ without calling attention to ourselves.Let’s consider our spiritual struggles or assignments that may be signposts directing usto fast and pray, and let’s keep that private.Let’s seek to please God by doing the right things in the right way with the rightmotives.Biblical Truths of This Lesson in Focus Guard against being hypocritical in spiritual matters by making sure your motives are pleasing to God. Our motive for giving to the needy and to support Christian ministries is always to honor God, never to gain recognition. Our praying, both in public and in private, is to be an honest, heartfelt address to the Father, not a performance. Our prayers should first reflect kingdom concerns and then personal needs. Our prayers are futile if we harbor an unforgiving spirit. Our fasting should be done as a private act of devotion to God, not to impress fellow believers.We have an audience of One!This lesson looks at some of Jesus’ words on giving, praying, and fasting.
In which of these areas, or other areas, do you need to work on doing the right thingsin the right way for the right reasons?RIGHT MOTIVESWhen You Give Matthew 6:1-4When You Pray Matthew 6:5-13When You Fast Matthew 6:16-18When You FastMatthew 6:16-18 HCSB16“Whenever you fast, don’t be sad-faced like the hypocrites. For they make theirfaces unattractive so their fasting is obvious to people. I assure you: They’ve got theirreward! 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head, and wash your face, 18 so thatyou don’t show your fasting to people but to your Father Who is in secret. And yourFather Who sees in secret will reward you.” Matthew 6:16-18 HCSBWhenever you fast (v. 16)At its core, fasting is a spiritual discipline of depriving ourselves of food as anexpression of devotion to God, our desire for Him being greater than our desire forfood. (Some suggest the intent of fasting could include temporarily deprivingourselves of television, the internet, or a hobby.)Scriptures neither commands fasting for believers nor offers instructions for fasting andits duration. (Indeed, health constraints prohibit or limit some people from food fastsand those same things should also limit them from fast foods.)A fast could be omitting certain kinds of food, all foods, or perhaps something else;and durations mentioned in the Bible vary from one day (sunrise to sunset) to fortydays.All that is well and good, but didn’t most of us grow up with church traditions tiltedmore toward covered-dish suppers than fasting?The best way to encourage attendance for anything at church is to announce“refreshments will be served.”
Churches are famous for eating-meetings.Eatin’ and fightin’, the two things Southern Baptists do the most.Many of our churches have a Wednesday evening meal associated with the mid-week prayer meeting.What do you think would happen if members showed up on Wednesday to discovera fasting-and-prayer meeting was replacing the eatin’-meetin’?Jesus’ assumption that His disciples would practice fasting ought to inspire us to takeanother look.The Bible has numerous references to fasting.It is associated with fervent prayers of confession and intercession (Daniel 9:3).Jehoshaphat proclaimed a fast when Judah faced a national threat(2 Chronicles 20).Jesus fasted 40 days in preparation for His testing before beginning His public ministry(Matthew 4:2).The congregation at Antioch was at worship and fasting when the Lord led them toset apart Barnabas and Saul for missions (Acts 13:2).Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for new churches and committed them to theLord with prayer and fasting (14:23).Most Americans could afford to fast from food for health reasons.Is there something in your life from which you need to fast for spiritual reasons?If so, identify it here.Jesus, of course, alerted believers against the use of fasting to show off bydramatizing their deprivation, that is, being sad-faced in public (v. 16).Jesus wants those who fast to be well groomed.Personal fasting is to be a secret act of devotion to the Father, and He promises toreward us when we fast with that intent (v. 18).