SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION
Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 6:1)
Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 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. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:2-4)
The Gospel of Matthew is about Jesus bringing the kingdom of heaven to earth, and the Sermon on the Mount serves as the citizen’s handbook. Chapter five covered the characteristics and purpose of Christ’s followers, as well as their relationship to the Old Testament Law. The Beatitudes represent the characteristics of a citizen of the kingdom of heaven, and their purpose is to be the salt of the earth and light of the world. The chapter then concluded with six examples of how Christ came to fulfill the Law, not abolish it.
As we move into the sixth chapter of Matthew, we also enter a new section of Jesus’ sermon. Through chapter five’s discussion of the Law, Jesus flipped many of the Old Testament commandments on their head by revealing God’s heart behind it. Jesus now does something very similar with acts of religious piety. For many of the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, giving to the poor, prayer, and fasting were the three holiest acts one could perform, but Jesus shockingly reveals that even these godly acts can be done in an ungodly manner.
This week we focus on Jesus’ brief discussion of giving to the poor. It is important to note that Jesus begins with the phrase, “when you give…”. Thus, Jesus begins with the assumption that His followers will desire to give to the needy. We would tend to assume that giving to the poor is always a righteous act, but Jesus warns against giving in order to be seen by others. He claims that if we do good works for others to notice, their attention is our reward. However, if we give in secret, our Father will see us and reward us.
Read verse 1 and discuss the following.
- Jesus begins chapter six with a warning against practicing our righteousness before other people. Why does Jesus condemn doing good works to be seen by others?
Read verse 2 and discuss the following.
- Most of us are not likely to use to trumpets to announce whenever we give to the needy, so what does Jesus mean by “sound no trumpet before you”?
- What are some practical or real life examples of how we might (blatantly or subtly) search for other people’s acknowledgement of our generosity?
Read verses 3-4 and discuss the following.
- What does Jesus mean by not letting our left hand know what our right hand is doing?
- Biblically, how will the Father reward these secret givers?
ACTIONS TO CONSIDER
- Obey. Consider your current practice of giving to the needy. Do you give at all? If you do, where is your heart when you give? How can you guard your heart from seeking the affirmation of others in your giving?
- Pray. Pray to the Lord for a greater desire to be generous and to guard your heart against giving to be seen by others.