Summary: Getting our motives right before we give our money.
THE PASTOR’S POINTS
sermon ministry of
CEDAR LODGE BAPTIST CHURCH
March 28, 2004
1“Be careful not to do your good works in public in order to attract attention. If you do, your Father in heaven will not reward you. So when you give to the poor, don’t announce it with trumpet fanfare. This is what hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets in order to be praised by people. I can guarantee this truth: That will be their only reward. When you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your contributions privately. your Father sees what you do in private. He will reward you.
Matthew 6:1-4 (GWT)
Jesus said a lot about motives. And when it comes to our motives in giving, this text gives us great insight into human nature. Jesus knew people, and the condition of the human heart. He knew (and knows) how much we are more likely NOT to give; especially when we can get out of it!
We are most naturally bent in the direction of keeping, and then trying to defend why we keep rather than give. Rationalization can be fun, actually. Ask a question, "Why are fire trucks red?" Answer:
1. Fire trucks have four wheels and eight men;
2. Four plus eight is twelve;
3. Twelve inches in a foot;
4. A foot is the size of a ruler, and Queen Elizabeth is a ruler;
5. The Queen Elizabeth is the largest ship on the seas;
6. Seas have fish, and fish have fins;
7. The Finns fought the Russians, and the Russians are Reds;
8. Since fire trucks are always rushin’ -- fire trucks are always red!
WOW! We can explain anything that way! It doesn’t necessarily have to be true; it just has to get us off the hook! One Pastor probably came the closest to "nailing-down" that whole rationalization proclivity when he announced from the pulpit one Sunday, "Brethren, let us all give now according to what we reported on this year’s Federal Income Tax return."
If you are a believer, you have heard many times how it is a Christian’s responsibility and joy to give. The famous psychiatrist, Karl Menninger has stated that one sign of mental health is the ability to release money -- give it away. Think -- How many generous people do you know who exhibit mental instability? It is often the stingy, controlling person who is neurotic. God created us to be healthy. One way to contribute to your mental health is to practice generosity. Jesus did, and we are supposed to be growing into His likeness.
If you are of the human species, being told you should give and you should like it probably brings rebellion of one sort or another. You might have even had the thought cross your mind, "Who does that preacher think he is, telling me I should put MY money in HIS plate?" Mark these three responses:
a. It’s not my plate;
b. It’s not your money;
c. The preacher is supposed to tell the congregation to put the Lord’s tithe in the Lord’s plate on the Lord’s Day, and in the Lord’s way (cheerfully!!).
Our giving is also part of our act of worship of God. What is it that decides the difference between an act of ritual and an act of worship? I believe Jesus was attempting to teach the disciples that true worship only happens when the motive is pure. The finest act of Christian activity, without Christian motivation (love), does not, and cannot, please God.
Let’s look at the motives for giving that Jesus compels us to see:
GIVING MOTIVATED BY PRESTIGE
1“Be careful not to do your good works in public in order to attract attention. If you do, your Father in heaven will not reward you. So when you give to the poor, don’t announce it with trumpet fanfare. This is what hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets in order to be praised by people. I can guarantee this truth: That will be their only reward. Matthew 6:1,2 (GWT)
Giving is neither good nor bad by itself...it is simply a transfer of goods, services or promises from one entity to another. The hidden trap Satan lays-out for the Christian congregation is in how we FEEL about the giving we do. If giving becomes a competition for the attention of others, the motive is prestige. When we give in order to be elevated in the minds of others we cancel any reward our giving may bring. The reason for this is that the attention becomes directed at the giver rather than God.
You’ve heard of the guy who was ugly. He met a beautiful woman, but he was so ugly she refused to date him. So the man had plastic surgery on his face, lost 50 pounds, bought a new suit of clothes and got a toupee’. At long last she agreed to go out with this transformed hunk. As they were walking out to the car for their first date, the man was struck by lightning. In his dying breath, he looked heavenward and asked, "God why did you do this to me now that my dreams are coming true?" And God said, "Sorry, Sam, I didn’t recognize you."