In the previous chapter, the Lord Jesus stated that He came not to destroy but fulfill the Law (Matthew 5:17).
And, in Matthew 19:7-8, when Pharisees asked Jesus, why did Moses then command, He answered to them and said that Moses commanded because of the hardness of your hearts … but from the beginning, it was not so.
While clarifying the five fundamental statutes – Murder, Adultery, Perjury, Retaliation and Love to enemies – Christ showed that the content of men’s hearts is what God the Father is concerned about.
In today’s Bible Study, we continue “The Sermon on the Mount” and we are going to study the passage from Matthew 6:1-4 about Giving of Alms. Please, check the previous studies on this topic:
- The Beatitudes – Jesus’ guidelines for Believers
- The Similitudes of Beatitudes
- Jesus Christ Fulfills the Law
- Angry Enough to Murder
- Lustful Mind is Corrupted Heart
- Divorce – Matthew 5:31-32
- Vows, Oaths And Foreswearing – Matthew 5:33-37
- Vengeance And Love – Matthew 5:38-48
Bible Passage to Study
Giving of Alms or Hypocrisy – Matthew 6:1-4
In the previous chapter, the focus was on the relationship between people. But in chapter 6, Jesus focused on the relationship with the Father and His rewards for us.
And this time, Jesus is about to clarify another five fundamental statutes – Alms-giving, Prayer, Fasting, Riches and Care.
Righteousness and Rewards
The very first verse, Matthew 6:1, is an opening statement of Jesus Christ before expounding yet another topic regarding the proper conduct of His followers when giving to the needy (Matthew 6:2-4), praying (Matthew 6:5-15) and fasting (Matthew 6:16-18).
Righteousness is the essence of the Christian life, especially when giving, praying and fasting. And for those who follow Jesus’ teachings, God has prepared rewards. Indeed, righteousness and rewards are the dominant ideas in the first half of the chapter (Matthew 6:1, 4, 6, 18).
The general principle of the Lord’s message to His disciples is this: the true Christian has to strive to please God the Father and His acceptance. Thus, you may receive God’s rewards, which include His approval (1 Corinthians 4:5; Matthew 25:21) and the opportunity to serve Him wonderfully when the kingdom comes (Luke 19:17).
The first part of Matthew 6 (giving, praying, fasting), Jesus has summarized in Matthew 6:33: But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Living the righteous life: giving to the needy
In his book Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones laid down four principles regarding living the righteous life:
- The delicate nature of the Christian life.
- The ultimate choice between pleasing self and pleasing God.
- The importance of our relationship to God.
- The rewards from our heavenly Father.
1. The delicate nature of the Christian life
The life of the Christian is not an easy one and may look even contradictory. It seems that one has to deal with two things that exclude each other.
From one side, Jesus commands that we have to be the light and the salt to the world that everyone will see our good works and glorify our heavenly Father (Matthew 5:16). On the other side, in Matthew 6:1 Jesus said that we have to beware of practicing our righteousness before other people.
So, what we have to do? And I am glad you asked 🙂
The answer is in these words from Matthew 5:16, let your light so shine before men… The Christian must leave his life in such a way that the other by looking at him and seeing the quality of his life will glorify God.
And at the same time, we must always remember that we do not do all these things in order to attract the attention to ourselves, but to God (see also Colossians 3:23; 1 Corinthians 10:31).
This is that delicate balance between great ostentation and becoming a monk and living somewhere in the mountains. That is why in the very beginning Jesus talks about The 8 Beatitudes and that is why we have to surrender our lives under the leadership of the Mighty Holy Spirit (Romans 8:14).
2. The ultimate choice between pleasing self and pleasing God
That is not to understand it literally that we have to choose whom to please, man or God (consciously we know the right way, but subconsciously we slip off over and over). That is the choice that man by his nature tends to make in his own favour and for his glorification. And that is where the deceptive nature of sin is seen.
When we have a desire to please a man in return we expect some kind of gratification or reward and because of our sinful nature, it may turn into self-praise. So, ultimately it all boils down to a choice between praising ourselves or praising God.
3. The importance of our relationship to God
This is a key principle and can be explained in five words: it is all about God. We should realize that our supreme object in life should be to please God, to praise God, to please and praise Him always and in everything. If that is your life principle and that is what you do in your life, you cannot go wrong with anything (see Psalm 34:1-4, 145:1; Isaiah 57:15; Acts 16:25-26).
The world saw the best example of such life in non-other but the Lord Himself. Jesus Christ lived the perfect, sinless and righteous life. Although He was fully man and fully God (John 1:14; Colossians 2:9), Jesus never lived His life for His sake. He was not boastful, nor ostentatious, neither intentional in all His deeds. Rather, all His life was for God’s sake, for the glory of the Father.
The other reason why we should live our lives following the example of Jesus (or not to live our lives as we want) is the fact that God sees us (1 Samuel 16:7; Psalm 33:13; Proverbs 15:3; Matthew 6:4). He sees not just all our deeds (good or evil), He sees all our thought. Moreover, God sees the content of our heart, which is the generator of ideas and intention (good or evil), even before they become a thought or an action (Jeremiah 17:9-10).
4. The rewards from our heavenly Father
Finally, we came to the most intriguing part, which is about rewards.
Is it good to desire God’s reward? I am glad you asked again 🙂
Once I used to think that as a Christian, it is not good to desire the rewards from God. I guess I was way too humble… Thankfully I was wrong 😉
To have such beliefs is like to desire neither hell nor heaven. It is pure atheism with all its consequences. But if you are a Christian, your desire and aim should be heaven, to see and to worship our Lord God.
Moreover, the entire account of the Old Testament is about the promised land. Even starting with Noah; his promised land was the piece of dry land in the midst of the Global Flood. God promised Abraham land, and to make him and his kids a great nation, and God generously blessed him and all his house (Genesis 12:1-3).
The point I am trying to make that besides numerous blessings from our heavenly Father, our greatest reward is to be in the presence of God when His kingdom comes. Praise God, it will come, and will come soon.
Thus, seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:33).
To live a Christian life is to poise between good and evil, righteous and wicked, fleshly and spiritual, godly and ungodly. Paul put it in that way: For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do (Galatians 5:17).
And what do you want to do? Do you want to do something that brings attention to yourself? So that people can praise you and you will get yet another such important reward and put it on your wall of merits? What is your desire?
Do you desire to have a relationship with the Triune God? So fill your life with His presence. You live because of God, so live for God, and only for Him. Do not look at man’s rewards, they have nothing to offer that will not perish.
God’s reward is eternal and His promise is everlasting. And that reward is you being in His presence in His kingdom.
If you have not yet accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, why not now!? Do not wait until it is too late! Embrace God’s Grace, Mercy and Love now – Accept Jesus Now!
Study Materials Used:
- The Henry Morris Bible Study – KJV
- The Matthew Henry Bible Study – KJV
- The MacArthur Study Bible – ESV
- ESV Study Bible
- Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible KJV
- The Complete Bible Commentary – George Williams
- The Moody Bible Commentary – a one-volume commentary
- Studies in the Sermon on the Mount by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones