Genesis 18-19 Matthew 6:1-18
“Your giving should be done in secret. Your Father can see what is done in secret, and he will reward you.” (Matthew 6:4 NCV)
In this next section of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus talks about three religious acts: giving, praying, and worship – especially through fasting. The Pharisees made it a habit to engage in all three of these activities, and they made sure that other people saw it when they did. I hope Jesus was using a bit of hyperbole as He described how the Pharisees gave alms. In His description, their giving was done with a fanfare of trumpets so that people could see that they were practicing this religious act and sacrificing on behalf of this poor person who couldn’t work out of the goodness of their heart. Their prayers were long, and wordy, and often focused on themselves, done in public so that everyone could see them. When they fasted and worshiped, they made sure that everyone knew that they were engaging in this act of self-discipline. Jesus makes things simple: you can seek the approval of men or you can seek to draw closer to God through these acts. If we do them so people can see us, we get what we want. If we do them in secret to honor God, then that’s how we’ll be rewarded.
Motivation is key here. Are you giving, or praying, or fasting so that others will see you or are you doing these things because of your relationship with God. If you help someone out, not drawing attention to yourself, but someone else notices it and comments on it, it doesn’t mean that God doesn’t recognize that gift. My family prays for our food in public, not to be seen by others, but because we pray for our food privately as well. If others see us, we hope that people will glorify God. If it’s all about us, then we get our reward. If it’s all about God, He knows, and our fellowship with Him is that much sweeter.
Lord, remind me that it’s all about You. When I give, and remind me to give to help others, when I pray, and when I worship, let my heart and my focus be on you. If others see me doing these things, draw their hearts towards You.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.