Summary: True worship is all about God, not about us. How important it is that we serve God and communicate with Him in a way that takes the focus off of us and puts it on Him!
An Audience of One
Matthew 6:1-6 "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. 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 men. I tell you the truth, 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. 5 "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Matthew 6:16-18 16 "When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Intro: As we get into Matthew 6, we’re going to be talking doing good things, such as prayer, fasting, and benevolence. Three marks of Jewish piety or spirituality were prayer, giving to the poor, and fasting. A devout pious Jew was one who was generous to the needy and faithful in praying to God. But before we say too much about, prayer, or giving, I’d like us to think about why we do these things. What do we hope to accomplish by our prayers or by giving to those in need? What’s the point? What result are we hoping for? If we fail to find answers to these questions, one of two outcomes is likely: either we won’t waste our time giving or praying, or we might do these things, but miss any real benefit because we are doing them for the wrong reasons. Those who do right things for the wrong reason will get the wrong reward. Cashing in for man’s applause makes us miss out on the Father’s applause. You might get what you’re after, but it holds very little value, and will not benefit anyone in any significant way.
-Although we often seek approval from those around us, the only approval really needed is heart approval. And since only God knows the heart, only He can approve it. We all need a heart appraisal (Search Me O God), then through surrender we can find the heart approval we are seeking.
-Here is the main point of the message today.
Prop: True worship is all about God, not about us.
Interrogative: How important is it that we serve God and communicate with Him in a way that takes the focus off of us?
TS: Let’s look at a few thoughts about our motivations for serving Jesus and getting closer to Him.
I. Giving before an audience of One
A. Misplaced Motivations (Attention, Admiration & Honor from others- feeding pride, ego, self-centeredness, personal advancement, etc.) Giving in order to get something in return (whether attention, approval, more money back, or something else) is not the motivation God wants from us. Sometimes we might even give just to get someone off of our backs, but that does not reflect the heart of our Father. We might give simply because it is expected of us and we don’t want to look bad. Deep inside we would prefer to keep it and spend it on ourselves. Bribery is wrong as well. It is a form of manipulation that bends someone else’s will in our favor. There are many legal forms of bribery (lobbying and even campaign promises), but followers of Jesus have a kingdom heart that refuses to put people in a position to fail in their integrity.
-So, how and why we give says a whole lot about our hearts. Later, Jesus tells His listeners that where a person’s treasure is, that is where you will find their heart.
B. Proper Motivations (Honor God, Meet a need, Share God’s love, Obey God)
-Giving should be expected of those who follow Christ. That opens us up to being taken advantage of through guilt and manipulation, but we are still to give from our hearts. Jesus said, “When you give…,” not IF you give. Obviously, we cannot give to every need, but if we truly want to honor the Lord, we will learn to be open-handed – just like God is!