Summary: Jesus teaches about the proper way to give, to pray, and to fast. He condemns public displays of religious acts where the intent is to garner praise from people who are watching.
MATTHEW 6:1-8, 16-18
A "showboat" is someone who tries to draw all the attention to himself. They want all the glory, all the praise. You see it on the football field and other places where people compete. The touchdown or big play antics are performed to draw attention. Many people in the religious arena are nothing more than showboats. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus confronts that topic.
As Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount, He seemed to cover many topics. Basically, though, His sermon showed the contrast of the practice of empty religion against the true relationship with God. Religion focuses on the outside appearances and actions, but a true relationship with God is characterized by the inward change reflected by one’s motives and desires.
Here, Jesus confronts the religious hypocrisy that was so common in Jewish society at that time.
“Hypocrite”- means “an actor on a stage”. Actors wore a mask so they would look like what they were impersonating and had megaphones in the mask so they could be heard. “Wears a false face”.
* A “religious hypocrite” is someone that does the “right things” that a Christian ought to do, but with a wrong motive. (Motive is everything).
MT 6:1 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.
Believers are called to live in righteousness. We are to do good deeds, treat people with grace and mercy, and serve God with all our heart.
* Jesus goes straight to the heart of it – the motive.
“To be noticed”- theaomai- theatrical term- to show off.
Jesus is saying that if your motive for your righteous behavior is so that you can show off and impress people, then you have no reward in Heaven...... if you even go to Heaven.
1. GIVING FOR YOUR OWN GLORY.
MT 6:2-4 2 “So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
* Notice Jesus does not say “if you give” but “when you give”.
* The custom of wealthy people was to give their gifts in a very public way. A person would walk ahead of him and blow their trumpet to turn the attention to the person giving their gifts to the poor. People would give him great glory for how generous he was.
* Jesus said that there is no reward in heaven for those that give charity with the wrong motive. He said “they have already received any reward that they could ever hope to get. No other reward is coming.”
How should we give?
(1) Give in secret. If possible, don’t even let the person you are helping even know about it so they won’t feel indebted to you.
(2) Give generously- more than you let yourself realize. “Left hand /right hand”- spontaneously. Do it, don’t dwell on it, forget about it.
(3) Give in proportion to how God has blessed you. Always live in the realization of how blessed you are and be a blessing likewise.
(4) Give to glorify God instead of self.
Matthew 5:16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
2. PRAYING FOR YOUR OWN PRAISE.
MT 6:5-8 5 “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. 7 “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. 8 So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
So, Jesus next address the subject of prayer. He reveals there is a right way to pray and a wrong way to pray. He contrasts the prayer of hypocrites to that of a truly spiritual prayer. Again, motive is important.
The hypocrite’s motive is about looking “hyper-holy and spiritual”.