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Study in Matthew’s Gospel Presentation 24

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Study in Matthew’s Gospel. Presentation 24. Sermon On The Mount The Christian Giving Plan Chap 6 v1-4. Presentation 24. Introduction. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Study inMatthews Gospel

Presentation 241

Sermon On The MountThe Christian Giving PlanChap 6 v1-4Presentation 242

Presentation 24IntroductionIn chapter 5 we found that the beatitudes paint a picture of essential Christian character. We saw too that salt and light were metaphors that Jesus used to indicate the influence that Christians should have upon society. Then our hearts were challenged by Jesus radical application of Gods law as he sought to recover it from many of the perversions of his day. In chapter 6 the focus changes again. Verses 1-18 deal with the duties of the Christian life while v19 -34 concentrate on the pressures that Christians will contend with. We turn now to the section of the sermon that deals with a mans religious life v1-4 here Jesus begins to comment on the religious hypocrisy encountered in his own day.3

Presentation 24BackgroundImmediately we begin to read the opening verse, we might be tempted to think that there is a contradiction between what Jesus is saying here about not doing our deeds of righteousness before men and what he had earlier taught in 5v16 where we are told to let our light shine before men so that they may see our good deeds. In both passages Jesus is addressing quite different sins. In chap. 5 he is countering human cowardice by saying let your light shine before men. In chap. 6 it is human pride and vanity that is in view when he says some actions are best kept secret. 4

Presentation 24BackgroundOne writer reflecting upon the natural disposition of the sinful heart comments; Show when tempted to hide, and hide when tempted to show. Why is it so important to keep a veil of secrecy over ones personal piety? To guard against drawing to oneself the glory that rightly belongs to God. The Christian must see the danger of any activity, no matter how devout, which has as its motive the desire to draw attention and praise to itself. Any long for the lime light is dangerous.5

Presentation 24BackgroundIt is one thing to be a light in the world which helps men find their way to God and being a lighthouse that is intent upon constantly flashing in such a manner as to draw attention to itself. When a lights of the world are doing their job properly they are not drawing attention to themselves.In the room you sit in at night you benefit from the lighting but I doubt if you give it a second look. However, if the were flashing on and off and spinning around and doing mid air somersaults they would quickly be distracted by rather than aided by it.6

Presentation 24BackgroundJesus call to his followers to behave in the way outlined in v1-4 must be seen against the background of the behaviour of some of the Pharisees of his own day. And so Jesus principal concern is not with the sum that a man may give to those in need but with the heart-motive for his giving. Clearly, our motive for giving will always be reflected in the manner in which we give. And so attention is drawn not to how many zeros appear on the cheque that we write but on the motivation behind our writing such a cheque. 7

Presentation 24BackgroundThe purpose of alms-giving is to alleviate distress. Yet it is possible to turn an act of mercy into an act of vanity. So that what on the surface appear to others to be a selfless act can in fact be an expression of ingrained selfishness. There are depths of subtlety here. For focus of attention can quickly change from the benefit to the person receiving the gift to the giver! I walked a hundred miles for cancer research and made 2,000 pounds. My feet were sore afterwards but I have always believed that if I can help others then any sacrifice I make is worth it. Altruism is so easily replaced by egotism.8

Presentation 24BackgroundThe ravenous pursuit of mens praise was one of the besetting sins of the Pharisees. How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God. Jn. 5v44And again, for they loved the praise from men more than praise from God. Jn. 12v43 The Pharisees were so determined to receive mens praise that it quite spoiled their giving. 9

Presentation 24BackgroundIf we give in order to be praised by men we will receive no praise from God. It is as if God says to the benefactor; Since through your giving you did not seek to glorify me but yourself, do not hold out your hand to me looking for some reward. If you pay careful attention to the annual Children In Need appeal in the UK. you will realise that the organisers in some respects appeal to mens vanity and desire for public recognition. Mention my name on your programme and I will donate 100. Well like the Pharisees they have their reward.10

Presentation 24Announcing Our Good DeedsThe next thing to notice from these verses is that Jesus assumes that his followers will give to the needy. He does not say if you give but when you give. He anticipates this will be so because it is part of God's character to be merciful. Therefore, Gods his children will reveal the family likeness by displaying mercy in their dealings with others. Giving to the poor was a requirement of the Mosaic law. The temple tax was given in part for that purpose but this was something which individuals could supplement by voluntary gifts. 11

Presentation 24Announcing Our Good DeedsAnd it was in their supplementary giving that the Pharisees drew attention to themselves. We see something of the devastating humour of Jesus in these verses. Can you imagine anyone hiring a troop of trumpeters to play a fanfare just before they hand over their gift and all in order to ensure that everyones attention had been captured to witness the spectacle of their generosity! Calvin comments,They pretended no doubt it was to call the poor, as excuses are never wanting, but it was perfectly obvious they were hunting for applause and commendation.12

Presentation 24Announcing Our Good DeedsJesus describes their almsgiving as hypocritical. The word hypocrisy is significant. It came from the ancient theatre and described an actor laying aside his real identity and putting on a mask.

In the theatre this was an accepted convention. The trouble with the religious hypocrites Jesus is describing is that they set out to deceive by attempting to cover their real motive for giving.13

Presentation 24Announcing Our Good DeedsPeople tend not to employ troops of trumpeters to broadcast their giving today. But we can resort to all sorts of schemes to blow our own trumpet as we say, I wouldn't want this to go any further but do you know what I gave to that poor soul in need... One way in which we can begin to guard against this sort of hypocrisy is to recognise that we are always in the presence of God, a God whom we cannot fool and who knows the intents and purposes of our hearts. Pretence is folly in his presence. 14

Presentation 24Congratulating OurselvesJesus goes beyond telling his disciples not to seek the praise of others cf. v3... What does he mean? Our two hands almost always work together e.g. when we carry or catch something. What the one hand does the other knows about. Therefore, the significance of Jesus words is that we are not to be self-conscious in our giving, for self-consciousness quickly deteriorates into self-righteousness. Jesus is not saying that Christians should not keep accounts or close their eyes when they are writing cheques. Rather as soon is the gift is decided upon and given then it is best forgotten about. Lest in recalling it we gloat over our generosity. Cf. Matt 25. 37-39...15

Presentation 24Congratulating OurselvesOf course it is easy to point the accusing finger at others who seek to advertise themselves in their giving but harder to discover the little shrine in our own hearts where we record our good deeds. We do not openly boast about our performance but will make a secret visit to admire our trophies and indulge in a bout of self-congratulation. Think too of the person who sends his anonymous gift to charity. He then looks at the charities balance sheet. When he see the sum he sent recorded and beside it the words anonymous gift he takes great ide in what he has done. But by feeding on the memory of his gift he robs himself of Gods reward.16

Presentation 24Congratulating OurselvesThe idea of reward is to many people appalling and distasteful. Perhaps because they think back to school prize giving when every prize-winner seemed to turn round and smiled a smile that seemed to say, I have succeeded where you have failed. The Christians reward is not to be thought of in these terms. In the first place, pleasing God with self-forgetful service is his aim and not the reward itself. In this sense the reward comes as something of a surprise. Lord when did we see you hungry and feed you or thirsty and give you something to drink... Matt 25.3717

Presentation 24Congratulating OurselvesSecondly, the Christian will be first to acknowledge that he is not the author of any good that he has done but that it is the product of Gods grace and of the grace gift of a new nature. When Thomas Hooker the great Puritan preacher was on his deathbed his friends gathered around and said, You are going to receive your reward. To which he promptly replied, No! No! I am going to receive mercy. That was Hookers way of saying that anything he received from God he did not deserve but would receive as a grace gift.18

Presentation 24Congratulating OurselvesBut the reward which God gives can also, in some measure, be experienced down here; the reward of seeing the needy relieved, the ability to rejoice with the recipients, the reward of a good conscience before God as we recognise that we have responded to the inner promptings of the Holy Spirit. But there is a future dimension associated with the reward mentioned here. Can you think of a greater reward than to hear God say, Well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of the Lord.19

Presentation 24ConclusionIn these verses Jesus has unpacked what might be described as his Christian Giving Plan. Our aim must never be to bathe in a sun of mens praise or of self-congratulation but to please God. The main emphasis of Jesus plan lies not upon how much we give but on the manner in which we give. Only when our giving is self-forgetful and our motivation emptied of self- congratulation can our giving be described as a spiritual exercise.20