“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. When therefore you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will repay you.” Matthew 6:1-4 nasbMatthew 6 moves from an explanation of the characteristics of the Kingdom of God and a warning against false doctrine (1) in Matthew 5 to a look at attitudes and spiritual disciplines in the Kingdom and a warning against false practices. This chapter begins with our attitudes toward three major disciplines: Giving. Prayer. Fasting. Today we’ll study Matthew 6:1-4 and consider our attitudes toward giving. Jesus draws a sharp contrast between the giving of the hypocrites and the righteous. The word translated as “hypocrite” literally means an actor merely playing a part. (2) Actors on a stage perform with the accolades of the audience in mind. Hypocrites give, Jesus said, with the praise of those who see them as their goal. They make a production of giving, going so far as to have trumpets sound to publicize and call attention to their magnanimous giving. God sees both their gift and their heart-motive. The applause of men is all the reward these givers will ever receive.
We know from the story of Samuel anointing the young King David (1 Samuel 6:1-15) how easy it is to be swayed by appearances. The prophet looked at Jesse’s sons and saw strong, handsome lads. “Surely this is the one,” he thought. God said no. “God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.“ (3)
When the righteous give, they are to do it secretly so no one will know. In essence, they are to give with the right hand so unobtrusively that their left hand never notices. Their giving proceeds from a heart of generosity and love for God and their fellow man. God, who sees their heart and what is done in secret, will reward them accordingly.
Our motive in giving is vital. If our motive is wrong, it doesn’t matter whether someone sees us or not. God will not reward a wrong motive. Godly giving is a reward in itself but it comes with a promise of further reward from God. Unfortunately, the reward can be lost if we give to be seen and praised by men.
Scripture addresses the subject of giving repeatedly, probably because we humans have such a hard time letting go of what we consider “our” possessions. James tells giving to the poor and those in need is the duty of disciples of Christ, (4) but it is a duty with considerable reward.
Rewards of Godly Giving:
1. Plenty (Proverbs 11, 24-25, Proverbs 19:17)
2. Security from want (Proverbs 28:27, Psalm 37:21-22
3. Help in times of distress (Psalm 41:1-2)
4. Honor and a good name (Psalm 112:9)
5. Eternal reward (Luke 14:14)
“If the work be not open, the reward shall be and that is better.” Matthew Henry (5)
Questions for discussion:
1. What makes a doer-of-good-deeds a hypocrite?
2. Do I lose my reward if someone knows about my gift?
3. What is my motive for giving?
Challenge for the day:
Do one act of kindness or giving secretly today and celebrate the love of Jesus as you give.
(1) Henry, M. “Commentary on Matthew 6 by Matthew Henry.” Blue Letter Bible. Last Modified 1 Mar, 1996. https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/mhc/Mat/Mat_006.cfm
(2) “G5273 – hypokritēs – Strong’s Greek Lexicon (NASB).” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed 21 May, 2020. https://www.blueletterbible.org//lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G5273&t=NASB
(3) 1 Samuel 6:7 nasb
(4) James 1:27
(5) Henry, M. Op. cit.