Summary: This is sermon #5 of the Sermon on the Mount series (#4 was preached by Jesus Castillo), Using the text from Matt.6:1-18 Jesus speaks of doing our good deeds in secret to please only God.
The Sermon on the Mount #5
Obstacles to Kingdom Life ¡V The Respectability Trap
CHCC: October 7, 2007
Skit: IN SECRET: Janet Arnold, Summie Roach
(Comment about skit) Most people like attention when they do good deeds, but the most amazing example of tooting your own horn I¡¦ve seen was back when I lived near Galveston TX. One day the Galveston News had a quarter page ad taken out by a guy named Cheezo Michelletti. He proceeded to give a long list of things he had done in behalf of needy people in Galveston. Things like buying frozen turkeys for folks at Thanksgiving, donating money to a wing of the John Sealy hospital, buying school supplies for grade-school kids, donating equipment for a local park, etc. At the bottom, the ad read, This ad paid for by Cheezo Michelletti. I don¡¦t know if he was planning to run for a political office, or wanted a promotion at work, or wanted to be appointed to an important board, but his ad appeared two days in a row in the paper. I was so astounded by it that I shared it with my youth group and gave a lesson from Matt. 6 about doing your good deeds in secret.
1. The Principle
When Jesus said we should not do good deeds in order to be seen of men, He didn¡¦t mean we are supposed to HIDE what we do. Earlier in this same talk, Jesus said: Let your light shine before men so they can see your good works and glorify God. The point is NOT who sees our good deeds. The point is WHY did we do the good deeds.
The issue is intents and purposes. Not are we seen, but did we do good deeds for the PURPOSE of being seen. In the Kingdom of Jesus, it¡¦s not enough to look good on the outside. Jesus gives us the power to actually BE good on the inside!
So, in a practical sense, how can we KNOW if we are doing things for the right reason? It¡¦s not that hard. Just ask yourself what you expect to get back from your action. Are you looking for something from other people? Do you want to impress them? Do you want them to thank you? Do you want them to pay you? Do you want their applause?
I remember a dear Christian lady years back who had a ministry of writing cards of encouragement. One day she told me she was through writing those cards. She said, ¡§Out of hundreds of cards I¡¦ve written, I¡¦ve only had a handful of people who bothered to tell me thank you.¡¨ Now, I can sympathize about how she felt. We all feel better if someone says ¡§thank you.¡¨ But at the same time, that kind of statement shows something about the true INTENTS and PURPOSES of the heart doesn¡¦t it?
When the main thing we want is human approval and esteem, God courteously stands aside. He gets out of the way because ¡K by our own wish ¡K it¡¦s none of His business. God won¡¦t intrude where He is not wanted. On the other hand, if we live toward God ¡K if our primary desire is to please HIM ¡K then he responds to our expectations ¡K which are directed toward HIM, and HIM alone.
This really IS a new way to live. Better yet, it¡¦s a POSSIBLE way to live ¡K because Jesus makes it possible. Christians have lived toward God through all the Centuries since Jesus brought this new Kingdom into our world. A historian named Oz Guiness said this about the American Puritans who founded our nation. He said, They lived as if they stood before an audience of ONE.¡¨ I like that, don¡¦t you? I want to learn how to live that way.
2. The Illustrations
Jesus was the kind of preacher that I like to hear because He always talks about Heavenly things in a down-to-earth way. He gave 3 illustrations of how people can do the RIGHT thing for the WRONG reason. The illustrations he used were familiar to his audience ¡K and they¡¦re familiar to us 2000 years later. He talked about the GIVING of offerings; PRAYER, and FASTING.
In each case, Jesus said, don¡¦t do it like the hypocrites do, for they only want to be honored by men. Jesus is the only one to use the term hypocrite in the New Testament --- and he used it often (17 times to be exact.) Back then, hypocrite meant the same thing as ACTOR. And it¡¦s possible that Jesus was familiar with theaters and actors. I found some interesting information about this.
Herod the Great built a lot of impressive Theaters in Jericho, Samaria, and Jerusalem. One of these theaters was built within a few miles of Nazareth where Jesus grew up. It was built during the years when Jesus was a young man --- working for his dad as a Carpenter¡¦s apprentice.