Summary: Message from the Sermon on the Mount on doing acts of righteousness such as prayer, giving, fasting
Doing Acts of Righteousness
Theme: To show the importance of motive in things that we do
Text: Matthew 6:1
1 ¶ Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
In this verse a better translation, for our understanding, of the word alms here would be “acts of righteousness” or “good works”.
NIV “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”
Berkeley “Be careful not to perform your good works publicly to be noticed by the people”
Weymouth “Beware of doing your good actions in the sight of men, to attract their gaze”
Why he be addressing this? This is what the religious leaders did. They would do things as we will see to draw attention to themselves. To show themselves as being more spiritual.
What the scripture is not saying. It is not saying that it is wrong for people to see what you are doing.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16 AV)
The significant part of our acts is our motive. Notice the words “to see what you are doing”. Or “to be seen of them”. Our motivation is not to gain fame or reward from man, although many times this will come, but from God.
Motive-inward feeling producing outward action.
This challenges many of our way of doing things. It seems one of the ways that we could get people to give is by recognition.
Is it wrong for someone to know that you are giving, fasting, or praying.
There will be times when people will know how much we are giving. As a matter of fact I have told people how much I have given. But the difference is I didn’t do it for the recognition of others because most of all I didn’t do it for others but for the work of the Lord.
There will be times when people will notice and hear our praying.
There will be times when people will know we are fasting. I have had to tell people. But I didn’t do it for their recognition but for the recognition of the Lord.
2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
The word hypocrite is from the Greek word hoop-ok-ree-tace which means “an actor or stage player or a pretender.
It would be as one who would place on the mask and pretend to be something else on stage while all the while he was who he was.
Is he being literal here? This is what would happened. When the Pharisees would give to the poor they would literally blow a trumpet. The reason was suppose to be to draw all the poor near to receive but the real motivation would be to get the recognition of others.
3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:
In other words when you place money in the offering plate let it not be with the idea of recognition of others but with love for God.
4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
If we trust in the Lord then we trust in his reward system.
5 ¶ And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
Now giving us what not to do he will give us advice on how to pray. He tells us two things to do when we pray.
Pray with sincerity. This is a prayer between you and God. It is not a advertisement of your righteousness or your need.
Simplicity. When we pray we tell God what is on our heart.
6 But thou shall reward thee openly.
7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him., when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret