Summary: Message discussing doing what is right for the applause of God rather than the applause of men.
Rewards from Men vs. Rewards from God
May 1, 2005
I heard about a man who went on a trip to Israel. He was about to enter the famous and impressive Mann Auditorium in Tel Aviv to take in a concert by the famed Israel Philharmonic.
The man was admiring the unique architecture, the sweeping lines of the entrance, and the modern decor throughout the building. Finally, he turned to the Israeli tour guide and asked if the building was named for Thomas Mann, the world-famous author.
"No" the tour guide responded, "it’s named for Fredric Mann, from Philadelphia."
"Really? I never heard of him. What did he write?" asked the tourist.
"A check," said the tour guide. (SermonCentral.com, Contributed by: Robert Rust.)
In Matthew chapter 6, we find Jesus continuing his famous Sermon on the Mount. In this passage he addresses how people do righteous things and give to the needy.
On the surface, it looks like Jesus is only addressing giving to the needy. And make no mistake, that’s a very important thing to be doing.
But I think it goes a little deeper than that. And in helping you see what I mean, let me give you a principle that you can use when studying Scripture.
One of the ways you can find out what a passage as a whole is addressing is to look for words or phrases that are repeated throughout the passage.
As I read through these verses, which form the basis for our message today, I want to demonstrate this, and I think that you’ll catch the drift of where I want to go today.
I’m going to read verses 1-4 of Matthew 6, which are printed in your note-taking guide.
"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."
Did you catch that? The word, "reward" is used three times in those four verses, and each time it’s in reference to our motivation for doing good things.
We can either do things primarily to look good in front of others or you can do them primarily to please the Father. And that’s the theme of my remarks today.
And in exploring that theme, I want us to keep a couple things in mind as we look at these verses:
1. Jesus was operating with the understanding that giving to the needy should be a normal part of the life lived for God.
Notice Jesus doesn’t say, "if" you give to the needy; he says, "when" you give to the needy.
How and when you do that is between you and God, and I won’t presume to tell you what you need to do.
But the point here is that we are to be giving to the needy as a regular part of our Christian life.
2. Jesus was operating with the understanding that we should care what the Father thinks.
Now that just kinda makes sense, right?
But why is that important? Because if we aren’t concerned about what the Father thinks, we fall into the trap of only trying to please people or worse, only trying to please ourselves. Both of these are a recipe for disaster.
Jesus makes a point here and throughout the gospels that the Father is who we’re to aim at pleasing, above all else. And that pleasing him brings reward.
By the way, just how does the Father reward us? Well, I can’t say exactly, but it stands to reason from the general scope of Scripture that the rewards of the Father can be given both here on earth and/or in heaven when we get there.
But one thing I can say, and that is that the reward mentioned is not heaven. It’s not salvation. We can never earn that, no matter how good we are.
Titus 3:5 says that God saved us, not because of righteous things we have done, but because of his mercy.
So we can rule out that the reward Jesus is referring to here is not heaven.
But now let’s turn our attention to three lessons we can learn from this great passage.
The first lesson we find in this passage is that...