Preached To The Saints Of Riverview Baptist on Wednesday, February 8 2017
At 798 Santa Fe Pike, Columbia, TN
Matthew 6:1-8 (KJV) 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. 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. 3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: 4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. 5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. 7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. 8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.
Two of the most “religious” things that religious people do is give to the poor and pray. And it is good to give to the poor. The Bible says:
Proverbs 19:17 (KJV) He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.
Luke 6:38 (KJV) 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.
God has given us much, so we give much in return. But a group of religious people in Jesus’ day made a show of giving. They were not giving to honor God, but were giving to honor themselves. Jesus didn’t name the religious group in our text today but they heard what He said – and were not pleased with it. Nonetheless, what Jesus said was true.
We Are To Give To Glorify God, Not Ourselves
Many people give. If you go into the Maury Regional Hospital you will see a wall with pictures of people who have given to the hospital. There’s nothing criminal in that. But when you give to God you should do so to glorify God. Jesus said:
Matthew 6:1 (KJV) 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.
Now Jesus didn’t say you couldn’t give publicly. Jesus gave publicly. He healed people in public, and was known for healing. But Jesus didn’t do what He did to be seen of men. That is key to what Jesus said. The religious crowd – the Scribes and Pharisees – made a show of giving. Jesus said:
Matthew 6:2 (KJV) 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.
The religious crowd wanted you to know they were religious. They “sounded a trumpet” when they gave both in the Synagogues and in the streets. They drew attention to their giving. They wanted to be known as generous people, as good people, as people who cared for others. But Jesus called them:
“Hypocrites” is the Greek ὑποκριτής hypokritēs which means “to have two faces”. In the Greek Theater actors were often called Hypocrites for they had one face when they acted and another in real life. The Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes all made a show of giving so that others would say how “godly” they were. But in reality they were motivated to give not to honor God but to honor THEMSELVES.
The motivation condemns or blesses the act. God sees our hearts when we do things. People see the exterior, but God sees our hearts.
Jesus was watching the giving at the Temple one day. We read:
Mark 12:41 (KJV) And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.
People were giving. In Jesus’ day when you gave you walked into the Temple and put money in a slot called the treasury. Money collected in the treasury was later gathered by the priests. As people cast money in Jesus noticed that the rich gave much. There’s nothing wrong with that. “To those whom much is given, much is expected” we are told in Luke 12:48. Those with much should give much. But then we read:
Mark 12:42 (KJV) And there came a certain poor WIDOW, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.
The “farthing” or the Roman quadrans was worth about a half a penny. I don’ty know how much that is in modern money, but it was the least amount thatr could be given in Jesus’ day, perhaps as little as a penny to us Americans. Jesus watched this woman publicly put this tiny amount in. Then the Bible tells us that Jesus …
Mark 12:43-44 (KJV) …. called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: 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.
Jesus did not criticize the widow for giving in public, but commended her for giving “even all her living”. This woman gave till it hurt. The rich who cast in gave from their excess, but she “did cast in all that she had”. Her motivation was to glorify God. This is what the Bible tells us that we MUST do. Jesus was asked one day “What is the Great Commandment in the Law?”.
Matthew 22:37 (KJV) Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
The widow was worshiping God with all she had. And she was doing this publicly.
Do Not Show Off To Be Seen Of Man
Matthew 6:3-4 (KJV) But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: 4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
Jesus said “don’t let your rightr hand know what your left hand is doing”. Keep your giving to yourself. Don’t show it off to others. Don’t toot your own horn. Give, but give to glorify God and not yourself, and God will reward you for it.
Do not pray to be seen of men. Jesus said:
Matthew 6:5 (KJV) And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they LOVE TO PRAY STANDING in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, THAT THEY MAY BE SEEN OF MEN. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
The religious hypocrites prayed not to God, but “to be seen of men”. This was their motivation. They wanted to be seen of man, not of God. This is not good. Again, there is nothing wrong with praying publicly. Jesus prayed publicly for His Church:
John 17:1ff (ESV) …When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. …
When you look through the Bible you will find mighty people of faith praying in public.
- When Peter and John were beaten and released, told not to speak of Jesus, they gathered with the Church and prayed together in Acts 4:24-30.
- When God released Peter from prison he came to the house of Mary the mother of John where many were gathered together praying (Acts 12:12).
- We are told that King Solomon prayed at the dedication of the Temple (1 Kings 8:22-23).
- The Prophet Elijah prayed on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 17:36-37).
- The Priest Ezra prayed before a great congregation of people” (Ezra 10:1), and as he prayed “a very large gathering of men, women and children” gathered with him and wept bitterly.
- King David not only prayed publicly, but wrote his prayers down to be read (see Psalm 51)
- Hannah the mother of the Prophet Samuel regularly went to the Temple to pray that God give her a child (1 Samuel 1:1-6).
- The Prophet Daniel made a point of praying openly, even when warned that doing so would lead to his being cast in a lion’s den (Daniel 6:1-3)
Public prayer is not condemned, but praying “to be seen of men” is. Prayer is conversation between a person and the Infinite God Who is our Father. When we pray it should not be show, but to touch the heart of God. Public prayer should be:
Based on a desire to communicate to God
If you cannot pray publicly without being puffed up by it, DO NOT PRAY PUBLICLY. The hypocrites “love to pray standing in the Synagogue (the Church) and in the streets TO BE SEEN OF MEN”. They are not talking to God – they are putting on a show for others to see. Jesus says “Don’t do it”.
When I or my wife are in a restaurant we pray over our meal. But I do not stand up and shout “look at me”. Pray, but let your focus be God not yourself. There are some people who do not pray publicly. There is nothing wrong with this. If you pray publicly for the public but not for God Jesus said:
Matthew 6:6 (KJV) But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
The focus of prayer is to communicate with God, not to make a show of what you’re doing. Talk to God. Focus on God. Love God. He is, after all, your Heavenly Father.
Do Not Use Vain Repetitions
When I was a child I was taught to pray by my mother and grandmother. They taught me to pray:
Now I lay me down to sleep.
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake.
I pray the Lord my soul to take.
This was a little rhyme I was taught. Momma taught me to add on “And God bless …
Momma and Daddy
Grandma and Grandpa
My brother and sister
My dog Lightening
and the Easter Bunny
then I whispered …
and make me a good little boy!
This was what I prayed while I was a child. But when I became a man, I put away childish things. When I came to know Christ as Savior and Lord my prayers began to be more one on one to God my Father. And this is what prayer is to be. Jesus said:
Matthew 6:7 (KJV) But when ye pray, USE NOT VAIN REPETITIONS, AS THE HEATHEN DO: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
The “Heathen” or as we call them “The Unsaved or Lost” believe that by repetition they will be heard of God. Jesus said:
Matthew 6:8 (KJV) Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.
Prayer is to God. Prayer is to honor God. God our Father will meet our needs. As His Children He cares for us. But we pray to honor Him. We pray to commune with Him. We don’t have to chant the same thing at God over and over again to be heard in prayer. We don’t even have to use our lips. All we need to do is pray, and God will care for us.
Sunday morning we will look at Christ’s pattern of prayer.
May God touch your hearts with His Word.
A Final Word
I want to say how much I appreciate our Church. It was a cold, windy, rainy night, and I expected few. 30 people showed up, worshiped, and God was in the house. Praise Him for the faithful!