Summary: Jesus teaching begins to look at hypocrisy.
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. 2“So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 3“But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
In Matthew 6, Jesus makes a transition of sorts and begins to focus on outward formal righteousness that flows out of appropriate inner attitudes and righteousness.
In this section we learn about hypocrisy. A hypocrite is a person who demonstrates outward righteousness but his acts of righteousness are not matched by inward righteousness. Its all just a show. Its deception and its particularly evil because it takes something good and uses it for evil purposes. Its all done in order to please men and be noticed by them and to make them think a certain way that is not really true.
The “hypocrite” is a theatrical term refereed to a Greek actor who wore a mask that portrayed in an exaggerated way the role that was being dramatized. So, the word “hypocrite” has come to be used for anyone who pretends to be something he is not.
Jesus gives three illustrations of religious activities that can become HYPOCRISY. GIVING, PRAYING, FASTING. These are not the only religious activities that flow out of inner righteousness. They were three areas that were used by the hypocritical church men of Jesus day in order to appear righteous before other people.
Any act of righteousness, regardless of how good it may be, that is done to draw attention to the one doing it, is a sham. It is hypocrisy. The devotion is to self and not to God.
We do three bad things.
We sin against God by robbing Him of glory and make a mockery of His true intent for His people to glorify him.
We sin against others by giving them a false understanding of true righteousness.
We lose any real reward. The approval of God.
GIVING alms can refer to any charitable act and eventually came to be used primarily to refer to giving money.
Notice: Jesus is not talking about merely having good intentions, but is he talking about compassion that actually finds expression in action taken. Also, notice that Jesus is talking in definitive terms. He doesn’t say, if you give alms, but he says “When you give alms.”
Acts of kindness and benevolence, and mercy are God’s expectation.
Now in case a countryman of yours becomes poor and his means with regard to you falter, then you are to sustain him, like a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with you. 36‘Do not take usurious interest from him, but revere your God, that your countryman may live with you. 37‘You shall not give him your silver at interest, nor your food for gain. 38‘I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God.