Summary: Humility or hypocritical? What is our attitude when we give? Jesus tells us that the act of giving is an act of righteousness. But we must always check our motive.
We will be looking at Matthew 6 this morning as we continue in our series RED: Teachings From the Words of Christ.
If you do not have a Bible this morning you can find the Scriptures printed on the insert inside your bulletin.
WOW! We have covered a lot of ground in this sermon series. Matthew 5 spoke loudly to us about our moral life. As believers in Christ we are to live lives of integrity and love as we act as salt & light in this world. We learned from Matthew 5 that we to be both a blessing to others and are blessed because Christ has become our King and Savior.
Now we move into Matthew 6 and Jesus is going to begin teaching about how His kingdom is one of righteousness. There is a shift in the language from Matthew 5 (you have heard it said) to Matthew 6 (when you do). Jesus moves from correcting false ideas and teachings to the practical actions one takes as they live out their faith in God.
The actions Jesus points to as righteous acts are 1) giving, 2) prayer, and 3) fasting. Jesus says WHEN you give - WHEN you pray - WHEN you fast. In other words He assumes these will be the normal actions or disciplines for those who have faith in God. I do not think these alone are the only righteous things we can do but if we neglect them our other acts of righteousness can lead to becoming exercises in selfishness and arrogance.
Let me just give you an example from my own life that popped up this week. You folks have been awesome in your giving of gatorade and candy bars for the Odessa Middle School Bulldogs. Logan told me about having the Snickers and Gatorade on the bus and how they were and how much everyone liked it.
It was at that moment I began to think - man I sure hope I get to see the athletic director. I will get to tell him that I am the pastor of Odessa First and how we gave them the snacks and stuff. Now, in and of itself, the director knowing who did what is a good thing. Bu, to perfectly honest, my motivation wasn’t all that pure. There was a part of me that wanted to receive some praise and recognition.
The Lord sort of rebuked me and my attitude. I felt like He told me, “Isn’t me knowing enough?” Again, I am not saying we should not be ashamed of recognition and thankfulness. However, what I was looking for was an approval of my own righteous actions apart from God. So, I repented and ask the Lord to help me be humble and thankful for what you as a church have accomplished.
Now I know that I am in a room full of extremely humble people. None of you would ever sink to the level of carnality that I did this week! But maybe - just maybe there have been times in your life when we have thought, “I wish someone would notice what I have done!” Or, “I wonder if the pastor knows I helped someone this morning.”
I think we should always give credit where credit is due. But sometimes we have to be happy with the fact that the Lord knows and that if He knows our reward will be better than what any human being could ever give us.
(TRANSITION) We are not the only one’s to have struggled with wanting the approval of others for the good things we do. In Matthew 6:1:-4 Jesus teaches us about the first of three righteous actions that help us to place our trust in God and not in the approval or men.
READ MATTHEW 6:1-4
“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. - Matthew 6:1
Now the KJV of the Bible tells us, “Take heed that ye do not your alms before men…” The translators of the NIV and most other Bibles use the term “righteousness” instead of alms. But why would one translation say alms and another say “acts of righteousness.”
I don’t want to get bogged down in the details of this too much but to the person hearing Jesus teach about giving alms in the place and time that He did the idea of giving money to the poor and being righteous before God meant the same thing.
For the Jew living during this time in history giving alms to the poor was a way of doing something righteous in order to earn merit with God. Many Rabbis taught that doing righteous things earned one credit in heaven (Jesus say - store up treasure in heaven in verses 19-24) and that a sinful action deducted a credit from God.