Summary: This is a short teaching on Matthew 6:1-4 - These are the very words taught by Jesus Christ, given for the purpose of protecting individuals and churches from ostentatious giving.
You or Christ Glorified
Matthew 6:1-4 says, "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. 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. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."
These are the very words taught by Jesus Christ, given for the purpose of protecting individuals and churches from ostentatious giving. Any true born-again teacher of God's word knows that Christians must reach out to people who are hurting, ill or have a real need. I recommend how the communitarian, Matthew Henry had put it: "It is a great duty, a duty which all the disciples of Christ, according to their ability, must abound in." It is my conviction that we are to minister to the needs of the Body of Christ (Galatians 6:2) and to the non-churched in hopes of drawing them to the love of God and His Son Jesus Christ. (Luke 10:27)
The problem in meeting a need--without the Holy Spirit bringing illumination to the truths in Matthew 6:1-4 may only reveal how generous the persons or organizations are, thus bringing glory only to themselves. Jesus makes it clear: all love gifts should be given in such a way so that there are no temptations for others to glorify the giver, but ministered in a way that brings praise to God. When that is done, God will bless the love offering in a way that brings the hurting and needy into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. (New American Commentary; Commentary and Explanatory on the Whole Bible; The Pulpit Commentary; Matthew Henry Commentary).
During my 25+ years of preaching and teaching God's Word, I have observed the church--as the world sees it--reaching out to the non-churched. Too often, it comes across to them as, "that person or church only wants us to become members of their church." When that thought occurs, ministry outreaches appear to be administered through ulterior motives. We deceive ourselves if we think we are not in great danger of the subtle sin of drawing attention to ourselves or our churches as we reach out. Not following Jesus' principle of meeting the needs of the hurting, as taught by Him, can spoil our efforts, like flies in healing oils can ruin the entire box of precious ointments. (The New American Commentary; Commentary and Explanatory on the Whole Bible; Matthew Henry Commentaries)
A Spirit-anointed love ministry that reaches out to the needs of the hurting is guided by the following truths: 1.) A Christ-appointed overseer that assists the Body of Christ to exercise their gifts for the good of others and not themselves (Ephesians 4:11-16; Philippians 2:4) 2.) Everything is being done in a manner that brings clarity to the whole counsel of God's Word. (Matthew 28:18-20) 3.) Full accountability presented to those who have Biblical authority. (Acts 11:1-4, 18) 4.) It must have someone who is gifted in collecting and distributing the love offerings. (Acts 6:1-6) 5.) It must have someone opening doors of opportunities for participation during the out reach. (1 Corinthians 16:1-4)
In the following passage of Scripture, Jesus does not contradict Matthew 5:16, "the letting your light shine before men." The Lord's principles are for us to govern our own hearts, which is paramount to Him. Truthfully, this way of ministering to needs protects His personal honor and us from being worshiped by men. (The New American Commentary, Commentary and Explanatory on the Whole Bible)
Let the Holy Spirit examine your heart with these questions: 1.) What is the purpose of your giving to meet a need? 2.) Are you exercising your Spiritual gifts for the Lord or you own recognition? 3.) When your giving is complete, who is getting the praise?