Summary: Not only does God require outward perfection in the things that we do. He requires inward perfection in who we are in our inmost being. He knows we can’t fulfill His requirement, so He promises Good News.
1. Perfect according to motivation
a. Motivation for good deeds (6:1-4)
b. Motivation for prayer (6:5-15)
c. Motivation for fasting (6:16-18)
2. Perfect according to mindset
a. Mindset toward material wealth (6:19-24)
b. Mindset toward physical needs (6:25-34)
c. Mindset toward sin in self and others (7:1-5)
3. Conclusion—Perfect according to the Good News
a. Warning—in light of 7:1-5 (7:6)
b. Invitation (7:7-11)
c. Commission (7:12)
Volumes have been written and preached on the details of these verses we’re looking at tonight. But we’re not going to focus on the details tonight. We’re going to focus on the broad themes Jesus was teaching. We’ll focus on those broad themes and see how they inevitably point to a need for His grace.
I heard a story once about a rebellious little boy in school. He was always causing trouble. He’d throw rocks on the playground. He’d disrupt class and just generally drive his teacher nuts. His biggest problem is that he would never sit down. Well, one day, the teacher couldn’t stand it any longer. She sent him to the principal. Now, this was back in the day when you could get a whipping at school. And that’s what happened to this little boy. See, when he got to the principal’s office, he still wouldn’t sit down. As a matter of fact, he was running around all over the office. Finally, the principal got hold of him and tore him up with the paddle. Then she made him sit down on her couch. He finally sat down and glared at her. After enduring his cold stare, the principal asked him if he had anything to say for himself. He looked straight at her and said, “I may be sitting down on my outsides, but I’m standing up in my insides.” Isn’t that how we act toward God? God, I’ll follow your rules. I’ll try to keep your Law. But I don’t have to like it. That’s why Jesus moved on to the section in His Sermon on the Mount we’ll be looking at tonight. Last night we looked at His perfect Law. We looked at how He didn’t come to do away with the Law, but to fulfill it. And we looked at how His Law still applies to us and how it entailed more than we had ever imagined. But the Law deals with the outsides. After getting his whipping by the principal, the boy was following the law. He was sitting down. He was following the Law, but was his heart right? See, not only does God require outward perfection in the things that we do—that’s the Law. He requires inward perfection in who we are in our inmost being. But because He knows that we can’t fulfill His requirements, He promises Good News. I want each of us here tonight to see ourselves in light of God’s holy requirements. Even more than that, I want each of us to see God’s perfect grace as the only way to fulfill those requirements. Now, last night, we already looked at the first area in which God requires perfection. The outward area—His Law. Tonight, we’re going to look at the next two areas in which God requires perfection—the inward areas. The first inward area is we must be perfect according to our motivation. What motivates you? Why do you do the things you do? Jesus uses three situations that the people were very familiar with to talk about having the right kind of motivation. The first one is found in chapter 6, verses 1-4.
The first motivation Jesus talks about is our motivation for good deeds. Many times we think of the King James word “alms” as concerning only money. But that’s not the case. Alms is really any kind of charitable deed. Whether you give of your time, effort, or money, that’s a charitable deed—a way of giving alms. The interesting thing is that Jesus doesn’t command us here to give alms. He doesn’t tell us, “thou shalt do good deeds.” He knows that people will naturally do good deeds. But instead, He tells us to do good deeds for the right reasons. With the right motivation. So, why do we do the good things that we do? Do we do them to get some benefit? Do we give our money to the church and then expect that that buys us the right to say how it’s spent? I don’t like the color of the carpet, so I’m not giving to the building fund any more. When we give our money, we give it to the Lord. We don’t give it as an attempt to buy influence. Jesus says that whether we give of our time, talents, or money, give in secret. In other words, give not looking to get anything in return. No strings attached. He talks about our motivation in prayer the same way. Look at verses 5-15: