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Weekly Bible Study
“Giving Without Hypocrisy - Matthew 6:1-4”
by Art Sadlier   
December 9th, 2012

The background is found in Matthew 5:43-48. The Lord has been telling the Pharisees that their religion is defective. He tells them, you have altered the law of God. You are not keeping the law of God; you have watered down God’s law. You think you are righteous but you are not. You think you are living a life acceptable to God, but you are not.

There are multitudes of people today like that. They think I am living a good life, after all nobody is perfect. I think God will accept me.

They say as the Scribes and Pharisees did. I don’t commit adultery. I have never killed anyone. I am faithful to my wife or husband. I am an honest person. I am not a vengeful person. I think God will accept me. I am religious; I go to church occasionally or regularly.

To such people Jesus has bad news.

Matthew 5:20, “For I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

Paul said in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” No one measures up to God’s requirement. Jesus said in John 3:3, “.... Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” You need a saviour. Jesus also said in John 3:36, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” You need a saviour.

Salvation has been provided. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Let me ask you a question, what is it you are trusting in to get you to heaven and to keep you out of hell? Acts 4:12 says, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

Back to our review: Jesus gives six ways they had altered God’s requirements.

1 – You say that murder is just the physical act of taking a life. “But I say unto you that whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause is in danger of judgment...” ( Matthew 5:22).

2 – You say adultery is a physical act. “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).

3 – You say divorce is legitimate. “But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery” (Matthew 5: 32).

4 – You say if you make an oath don’t break it. “But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne” (Mathew 5:34).

5 – You say an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. “But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matthew 5:39).

6 – You say love thy neighbour and hate thine enemy. But I say, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).

There are three focuses in verses 21-48.

1 – The traditions of the Jews - which were the watered down beliefs of the Scribes and Pharisees. The perversions of God’s Word.

2 – The teachings of the Old Testament - or what the Old Testament teaches on these issues.

3 – The teachings of Jesus – Jesus gives the intentions of God that lies behind the words of the Old Testament. He of course can do that because He is God.

In verses 43-48 of chapter five we see the teachings of Jesus about love. We see five ascending connected truths that reveal Jesus teachings about love.

Matthew 5:21-48 focuses on the law and on what men believe. Matthew 6:1-18 focuses on the practice of the law or on what men do. Matthew 5:21-48 emphasizes inner moral righteousness. Matthew 6:1-18 emphasizes outward formal righteousness.

We have three representative illustrations of religious activity.

1 – Giving - our acts toward others. Verses 1-4

2 – Praying – our acts toward God. Verses 5-15

3 – Fasting – our acts toward ourselves. Verses 16-18

In this study we look at giving. Verses 1-4

1 – The danger of false righteousness

Verse 1, “Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.” This is a principle that applies to all three areas of religious activity. Giving – Praying – Fasting.

Illustration - The story is told of an eastern ascetic holy man who covered himself with ashes as a sign of humility and regularly sat on a prominent street corner of the city. When tourists asked for permission to take his picture, the mystic would rearrange his ashes to give the best image of destitution and humility.

A great deal of religion amounts to nothing more than rearranging religious ashes to impress the world with ones supposed humility and devotion. That emphasises the danger of false righteousness. Religion can be a game of pretense, a game at which the Pharisees of Jesus day were masters. Those who pretend to be something they are not, we call hypocrites. That was the Scribes and Pharisees. The scriptures record the stories of number of hypocrites.

Judas was the supreme hypocrite. Annais and Saphira were the first hypocrites in the church. There are hypocrites in the church today, there always have been and there probably always will be, at least until Jesus comes. Hypocrisy is endemic to man’s fallen nature.

We see hypocrisy in Amos 5:21-24, “I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies. Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts. Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols. But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.”

All of those religious acts were prescribed by God. But because they were performed insincerely and not accompanied by righteous living they were not acceptable to God. The sacrifices offered and songs that were sung were not given to God’s glory, but rather to the peoples own glory and self satisfaction. Outside of idolatry, the greatest sins of Israel were the sins of hypocritical religion.

We see this in Isaiah 1:11, “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he-goats.” Verse 13, “Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.” Verses 15-16, “And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil.”

Superficial worship, even if it takes the right form is a stench in the nostrils of God.  We read further of this hypocrisy in Mark 7:6-7, “He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”

Jesus used many colorful illustrations to describe hypocrisy, Matthew 23:27, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.”

Hypocrisy is like play acting, it is done to be seen of men. It is a spectacle for others to stare at. The focus is not on the Lord but upon the worshipper.

11 – The practice and reward of false giving

Verse 2, “Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.”

“Hypocrite” = originally was a Greek actor who wore a mask that portrayed in an exaggerated way the role that was being dramatized. For obvious reasons the word came to be used of anyone who pretended to be what he was not.

One of Satan’s most common and effective ways of undermining the church is through hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is therefore a great peril to the church and the individual believer.

Hypocrisy takes two forms

1 – Non-believers masking as Christians.

2 – True-believers who are sinful and pretend to be spiritual.

The warning Jesus gives here applies to both groups.

Augustine said, “The love of honour is the deadly plague of true religion, other vices bring forth evil works, but this brings forth good works in an evil way.

Hypocrisy is so dangerous because it is so deceptive. It uses things that are basically good for purposes that are basically evil.

“Alms” = any act of mercy or pity. Used of giving money, food or clothing to the poor. It is giving to men, that is in view here, not giving to God. Giving to God is an act of worship and it is a public act.

Acts 4:34-35, “Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.”

In this situation the church made the distribution through the apostles. All the offerings of Israel were to be presented at the door of the Tabernacle or Temple.

Understand the congregation did not enter into the Tabernacle or Temple. The place of assembly was the door of the Tabernacle or later the Temple. That was the place all offerings to the Lord were presented. They were presented before the people to glorify God in the eyes of the people.

Leviticus 1:2-3, “Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any man of you bring an offering unto the LORD, ye shall bring your offering of the cattle, even of the herd, and of the flock. If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD.”

Giving to the Lord is a public act of worship.

But the alms of our text today are not offerings to God. Rather they are giving to the poor and needy. The Lord has always delighted in acts of mercy and generosity. Leviticus 25:35, “And if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him: yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee.” Jesus also instructed His disciples to give to the poor (John 13:29).

It is obvious that it is only giving alms in the wrong spirit that is evil. “Do not sound a trumpet before thee.”  What a dramatic and colorful illustration of a wrong spirit of giving. “That they may have glory from men.”

There is a reward for wrongly motivated giving; it is the honour of men. If you want the reward of men, then get out your trumpet and polish it up and ask a friend to play a tune as you give some money to someone in need. You will have your reward. But notice in verse 1, “You have no reward of your Father who is in heaven.” Your choice is either the praise of men or the reward of your heavenly Father.

111 - The practice and reward of true giving

Verse 3-4, “But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.”

The right hand is the primary hand of action in a day’s activity. Giving help to those in need should be the normal activity of the Christian. He should do it as simply, directly and discreetly as possible. It is to be done in love, it is to meet a need and it is to be forgotten.

There was a place in the Temple courts for alms giving to the poor. It was an out of the way place where gifts could be given in secret and unnoticed. There was another out of the way place in the Temple courts where those with needs could go for help without being seen.  It was called the chamber of the silent. People gave alms and people received alms and no one who gave and who received.

This does not rule out acts of public worship in giving to the Lord anymore than verse 6 rules out corporate prayer in the church. Matthew 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Notice to be seen, that involves righteous actions with righteous motives.

The basic issue is righteous hearts. The basic issue is not going out of the world to escape all temptation, but to live in the world and overcome temptation.

In scripture we have at least five principles to guide us into non-hypocritical giving.

1 – Giving from the heart is investing with God

Luke 6:38, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”

That is Lending to the Lord. 2 Corinthians 9:6, “But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.”

2 – Genuine giving is to be sacrificial

David said, “Neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord of that which costs me nothing.”

Mark 12:44, “For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.”

3 – Responsibility for giving has no relationship to how much a person has

Luke 16:10, “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.”

4 – Material giving correlates to spiritual blessing

Luke 16:11-12, “If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?”

5 – Giving is to be personally determined

2 Corinthians 9:7, “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” Your giving is between you and the Lord.

In every area of righteousness the key is the heart, the inner attitude.

Here is the reward of true giving. “...thy Father shall reward thee openly.” The Father will reward His children for that which is done to His glory. Hebrews 4:13, “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do

Now let us look at God’s giving to us. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” 1 Peter 2:24, “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.”

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