Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor of Renovation Church
Continuing our Sermon on the Mount Series called “The Greatest Sermon Ever Preached”
We’re really diving in deep into the text in these series…
Sermon on Mount is Matthew chapters 5-7
Just last week finished chapter 5, now starting chapter 6.
As Jesus continues with his message this week, he continues with some challenging words
The thing about Jesus though (unlike a lot of Christians), when he tends to go really hard after people’s wrong thoughts and wrong lifestyles, he tends to go after the “religious people.” Especially in the SontheM.
Let’s check out his challenging words for today
(Matthew 6:1-4) – NIV
1"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. 2"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. 3But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
So Jesus gives us advice/instructions on how to live a humble spiritual lifestyle (he actually continues in this in the next verses (next week) & gives more instructions on prayer)
But today we’ll look at it from his more broad topic of giving to other people and what he called “Acts of Righteousness”
Well, first of all, what in the world does that mean? “Acts of Righteousness”
Sounds kind of Christianese to me
The word that Jesus is using there essentially means “doing things that are righteous,” which means doing good works. Or doing spiritual things
It’s really broad actually. So a lot of it can be your normal spiritual disciplines: Prayer, Going to Church, reading your Bible, fasting, spending time in silence, etc.
And “Acts of Righteousness” could also mean like outward service: Helping feed the homeless, volunteering at a school or nursing home, raking someone’s yard, or any sort of service you can think of
All of these things are sort of spiritual good deeds if you will
And Jesus says Be careful not to do these things in front of other people
He’s not saying don’t ever have another person around, but He’s saying don’t do them to be seem by other people (it’s about motive…which we’ll get to later)
Because in reality the public spiritual arena is not only unavoidable, but it’s important.
Going to church is in the public eye, right?
House Groups is important
Serving people is important (people are going to see that)
And because a large portion of the “Christian” things we do are in public, Jesus thinks it’s a good idea to warn us of the massive potential for wrong and ulterior motives to be involved since other people are watching us
And then he gives an example
HYPOCRITES AND REWARDS
Let’s look at verse 2 again
(Matthew 6:2) – NIV
2"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.
Jesus is talking about helping out the needy. Again, doing good works. And I love that He says WHEN you do that (not if), don’t be like the hypocrites who let everyone in a 4 block radius know that they’re giving a gift now
The greek word (the NT was written in Greek) for hypocrites was originally used for actors who put on masks to play different characters
And that’s a great picture because that’s essentially what these people are doing right?
They’re putting on their religious masks, and saying, “Look at how good of a person I am! Look at how Godly I am!”
And really, we’re talking about, and it sounds funny to say it, but “Christian showoffs!” “Look at me! I’m Godly!”
But the truth is. It’s a mask. It’s a show. It’s a smoke and mirrors show in attempt to distract. A mask in attempt to hide that deep down inside, they are spiritually bankrupt.
And Jesus says, don’t do good things to get a reward from people. Do it for your Father in heaven. And He will reward you.
First of all, the Bible doesn’t preach Karma. There isn’t an exact repayment for every ounce of good you do and every ounce of bad you do.
If there was, some of us would be lying in a ditch right now for all the wrong we’ve accumulated.
The Bible doesn’t preach Karma, it speaks of Grace.
Complete forgiveness for what you’ve done
Yet, and we see this especially in parts of the OT like Deuteronomy, that there is some sort of cause and effect though.
It’s really a message for a different day, but if you want to see some of those passages, you can right this down, look up passages like Deuteronomy chapter 11 or chapter 30.
And the basic idea is this (you see this in book of Proverbs a lot too). If you are lazy, chances are (not 100%, that’s why it’s a proverb, not a rule), not much will come of your life. If you work really hard, often good things come to you.
And the same is true with God, if you honor Him, He will honor you. And reward you.
It might not be how you expect it to be. It might be with righteousness in your own life, or with strong Christian children, or in any manner. OR, it might not be until you meet Him in heaven.
But the point is, He rewards us for our faithfulness.
Which is kind of cool. He doesn’t need to. He’s already done enough. He gave his life. But He is so good to us.
BUT, He does say to us, who do you want to be rewarded by?
Not that we need to do anything to earn his Love, he forgives us based on faith, not by what we do.
But He still blesses us in obedience.
And Jesus says that the people who seek out lots of public praise and recognition for what they do, will “receive their reward in full”
Meaning: Their reward will be the recognition they get on this earth from people. And that’s it.
Because you can either get “credit” from God or “credit” from people?
Which one do you want?
And in our culture, we often pick recognition from people over God.
Because…it’s immediate. You can see it. It’s tangible. It feels good.
We even live in a world where it’s very normal to get praise and recognition for all sorts of things. Just showing up will get you a certificate in school now days.
We live in a world where celebrities are always doing good works in the public eye because, well, that’s just good PR.
Businesses do the same thing.
And often so do we. It makes us look good to our friends, it makes us feel good about ourselves.
Whether that’s something simple like going to church, or something bigger like helping feed the hungry through an organization.
There’s something in us that craves being noticed for doing good
But yet, how we get that recognition has certainly changed over time
In small town America back in the day, everybody knew everything about everyone, so you had to always be on your best behavior
I think the switch to suburban culture in America is actually one of the reasons church attendance has started to plummet
I don’t think there are necessarily a lot less Christians, but just a lot less people going to church
Let me explain: Growing up in a small town, you could look at almost everyone and say, They’re Catholic, they’re Methodist, they’re Lutheran, they’re something weird, they must be Baptist, I’ve never seen them at the dance
But as so many of us moved to the suburbs and became isolated, we no longer had to impress our neighbors by going to church because we didn’t know our neighbors in the first place.
YET, we still crave recognition for our good deeds, so we’ve just found new and creative ways to seek it out
I think Facebook is a good example of this
The vast majority of you are facebook. If you’re not, you’re either really uncool or really cool for holding out. I’ll leave that answer up to you
But for example, when you do something good, many of you feel the pull to write about to your friends.
I mean nothing big, but just a quick status update
Just made a huge birthday card for my sick grandpa
Just went to “Feed by Starving Children”
Just worked an extra shift for my co-worker so they could go home early
Just cleaned the house for my whole family before they get home
And what happens when you write that?
Oh you did! That’s so nice! You’re so sweet! You’re such a good person!!
And it’s at this point, where we must start asking ourselves what our motive to do good is?
Because motives are often more important than actions.
Everyone can see your actions, but God knows your motives too
And here’s my fear with the wrong motives, if I’m just doing things for the wrong motives, so, let’s say I decide to mow everyone’s law in my neighborhood:, but my true motive is just be recognized as a really nice person.
Well, what happens is, when someone is honored, recognized, noticed, for doing something “good” (and that would be an example of doing something good) and their motives are not Godly, a person will only grow in Self-Righteousness, not true Godly righteousness.
If your motives are selfish, and you’re rewarded, you grow in self-righteousness.
Which is why it’s so important to have the reason we do things to be mostly to please our Father in heaven
Now obviously, our motives are never perfect, right? We’re human.
And let’s be honest. Our motives are mixed almost all the time.
You might go shovel out your neighbor’s driveway or bake your neighbor a cake, and 80% of it might be because you want to honor God and love your neighbor, but 20% of it might be, you want them to thank you and praise you and like you, right?
So let me ask you, what are you weighing as more important?
Your actions or your motives?
Or let me ask you a different question.
Think of something good you’ve done lately. I’ll give you a moment J
What were you motives, who were you doing it for? God and that person? Or for yourself?
Some of this talk on “Don’t do your good works in front of other people so they notice” talk might be confusing with what Jesus says earlier in the Sermon on the Mount:
(Matthew 5:14-16) – NIV
14"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
So, wait, are we suppose to do good things in front of people or NOT????
We’re supposed to let our light shine, but yet there’s a balance to it. Let me give you an illustration.
(SHUT LIGHTS OFF, TURN FLASHLIGHT ON)
When we do good things in this world, and our motive is to please our Father and just get praise from Him, our Good deeds shine, but they shine upwards
The flashlight points where your motives desire to get recognized from
If you desire to get recognized by and please God, your light shines upwards to Him…and people will look at you, and might even be inspired to follow the light at look at Him
But when you do good things, and your motives are to get recognized by people
You’re now just pointing your light at them, because it’s them you want recognition for.
And when people are just shining a light right in your eyes, that’s annoying right?
“Great, look at all the good things you’re doing, NOW STOP IT!”
And it doesn’t end up even having that positive of an effect
(TURN LIGHTS ON)
But when you live your life with your motives to please your God and be recognized by Him, the effects of that lifestyle on the people around you, end up actually being much greater
GIVING TO THE NEEDY
One of the main things Jesus applies this to is Giving to people in need. Let’s look at verses 3 & 4 again
(Matthew 6:3-4) – NIV
3But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
We are called to not make a big deal of our giving. Which is hard for us. When we sacrifice a lot, we want people to know about it. Somehow.
The church I used to attend once in a while growing up before I was a Christian, when you walked in, the first thing you saw was names of charter members and key givers.
Places like hospitals and universities are notorious for having huge plaques that rank silver, gold, and platinum givers
But Jesus calls us to be different.
To give to people in need to 1) please our Father and 2) because it’s right.
In Jesus’ time, poverty was widespread, and giving to those in need was essential and also hard to avoid. You couldn’t walk down the street w/o seeing a beggar
In our north suburban culture, for some, you may feel pretty removed from that.
And yet, especially in the midst of a recession, plenty of people are hurting financially. Many people in this church alone are without work and praying that God would help them through the next couple of months.
We always encourage you to be generous in this church, but we often say, not just through the work of this church (which is important), but even through the people in your own life and situations
And once again, I plead with you to use what God has blessed you with to bless others.
And I challenge you to do so secretly
When I was a youth pastor at CFC, some of my favorite times would be when some of my leaders would offer to pay anonymously for students to go on trips
When I was in seminary, I did a paper once on Charles Spurgeon, who was a famous preacher in England in the mid 1800’s.
Many of his neighbors and friends said he was Greedy because he had this habit of selling all their eggs from their chickens and would never give them away for free to anyone.
Yet, when his wife died, it was finally revealed, that they had (for decades), been supporting elderly widows with the sale of their eggs
So for decades they took criticism that they were greedy because they didn’t want to let their “left hand know what their right hand was doing.”
And I think that’s a cool example. We are far too often in it just to get recognized. Or at least too high of a percentage of our motives is in it to get recognized.
What can you do in secret? Maybe secretly pay someone’s rent this month. Secretly give someone in need a gift card. Secretly mow someone’s yard this spring.
And really, it’s not so much about the “secrecy” as it is about your motives.
Secrecy is not the end all answer. You’re not going to start going to an internet church so you can go to church in secret, you’re not going to only send email encouragements from anonymous email addresses, and on and on.
The reality is, a lot of things you CAN’T do secretly. And you don’t have to go to great lengths to do it. What JC is really getting at is, what are your motives?? That is the question today
BUT, the thing about secrecy is, it’s a GREAT discipline to put into place if you feel you are having mixed motives.
So if God is starting to pull on your heart a little bit this morning that you are maybe (not all, but at least some) doing some things just to get recognized, start putting the discipline of secrecy in place.
I challenge each and every person in this room to come up with at least one thing you could do, using the gifts that God gave you, to secretly bless someone this week.
And then do so. And do it with your light shining upward, and with your motives to please and honor Him.
You can look under your chair right now, and you should see a connection card and a pen. Go ahead and pick those up.
One of the things we do every week at Renovation Church, is fill out these connection cards.
It’s a way for you to connect with us and for us to connect with you.
If you’ve been here before, just put your name on it
If you have a prayer request and want our prayer team to be praying for you this week, there’s a space for that on the back as well
First announcement: Also, you probably noticed that there were Invite Cards under there as well.
Each of you get five cards. Here’s what I want you to do.
As we say here, changing this world takes ALL of us, being changed by God to change the world.
And if you’re a regular here, I want you to get rid of all 5 of those by Easter Sunday.
Preferrably to people you know. And if you don’t have 5 to give it to, find some other way.
Leave them out at work, find a place in public you could post it, pay for someone’s meal at the drive-thru & give them a card.
Find some way.
God is changing lives at this church, and this is just one neat way you can be a part of that!
Second Announcement: Good Friday service on Friday, April 2nd HERE at 7pm.
Last Announcement: Over the 6 weeks or so, we have started offering prayer from our Prayer Team to anyone who wants it after the service in the back corner.
We are now going to expand that further, and offer prayer during the second worship set every week AS WELL
For many of you, that’s an easier option during the service, or you have children to pick up after the service, etc.
This really goes with what we value as a church.
We say almost every week that we want you to Encounter God here on a Sunday morning, not just passively watch a concert or some show.
And that is our desire. So as we continue into worship, seek God however you need to. Stand, raise your arms, just sit and think, or go back and have our prayer team pray for you.
The point is, we want you to Encounter God, in someway, somehow on a Sunday morning
As we get back into worship, we are going to take an offering as well
A time for us to give back to God a portion of what He’s blessed us with
If you’re a visitor, feel free to let the offering just pass you by
As the offering goes by, you can stick your connection card in there as well
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
You may use this material all you like! We only ask that you do not charge a fee and that you quote the source and not say it is your own.