Red Letters Series #11: Light Lifts Up


Matthew 6:1-4 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.

Who are you living your life for? I was watching a television show last night when one of the female actors came out with “I’m non-binary. I’m not a female. I’m not a male. I don’t know what I am”. When we live our lives consumed with ourselves, living to satisfy our feelings and our wants, in time we come to a place where we are absolutely lost. This is what happens when we deny the God Who made us. Paul described the life bereft of God this way:

Romans 1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

We need to choose God. We need to live for God. That is what Jesus is telling us. We are not to live our lives to please ourselves, but to live for the One Who created us.

When the Apostle prayed for the Church at Colossae he said:

Colossians 1:9-10 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might BE FILLED WITH THE KNOWLEDGE OF HIS WILL in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 That ye might WALK WORTHY OF THE LORD unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;

The Apostle told the Church at Galatia:

Galatians 1:10 … if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

It is certain that the Gospel commands that we – “as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” (Romans 12:18). We are not to be difficult, or warmongers, or arrogant. The Church in the midst of darkness must not compromise with the narrative of the world. We as His Children are saved by Grace so that we can share His Gospel with others.

1 Thessalonians 2:4 But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.

Christ’s Church Is To Help The Needy

Matthew 6:1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them …

Please note that Jesus does not say “IF you give your alms” but “you DO your alms”. The word translated “alms” is the Greek ἐλεημοσύνη eleēmosýnē, (pronounced el-eh-ay-mos-oo’-nay), which means “a donation to the poor, an exhibition of mercy or pity, a compassionate gift”. The King James generally translates the word as “alms” or “alms giving”, whereas other translations use:

practicing your righteousness” (NASB, CSB, ESV, NIV)

Though these versions are not consistent, for in verse 2 the NASB renders it as the King James “do alms”. The CSB reverts to “give to the poor”. The ESV and NIV revert to “give to the needy”. I think the King James is a better and more consistent rendering with “do thy alms”.

The mark of a genuine believer is a merciful and beneficial attitude toward those around you.
Light shines so as to dispel the darkness.

I was watching a Food Network show the other day called “Cutthroat Kitchen”. At the beginning of the show contestants are given $25,000 to use throughout the game. When the contestants receive this money they ALWAYS seem to do the same thing. Some will smell it, others rub it on their faces or on their bodies. They are worshiping that money. Believers in Christ are saved by the unconditional Grace of God. We do not worship money. We understand that -= if God has blessed us with riches – then we were given these riches to not just use for ourselves, but to bless the needy. God told His Old Covenant followers:

Deuteronomy 15:7-11 If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother: 8 But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth. 9 Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him nought; and he cry unto the LORD against thee, and it be sin unto thee. 10 Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him: because that for this thing the LORD thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto. 11 For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.

When the Israelite harvested their fields God commanded “thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of your field” (Leviticus 19:9). God told the people He loved “thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the LORD (YaHWeH – the Great I AM) your God (Elohiym the Triune God)”. God told Israel “when you gather olives, thou shalt not go over the boughs again: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow”. God was so serious about His people being generous that He told them:

Exodus 23:10-11 And six years thou shalt sow thy land, and shalt gather in the fruits thereof: 11 But the seventh year thou shalt let it rest and lie still; that the poor of thy people may eat: and what they leave the beasts of the field shall eat. In like manner thou shalt deal with thy vineyard, and with thy oliveyard.

God was going to give His people enough bounty to where they could take a break every seven years. On the seventh year they were to leave the land alone. The “volunteer crops” that came up were for those in need. God says:

Proverbs 14:21 He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth: but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he.

And has declared that the greedy person who never gives to those in need will not have his prayers answered:

Proverbs 21:13 Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard.

The Apostle John told the New Testament Church – that’s us! – that we should especially be concerned in meeting the needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ. This is one of the reasons we give to missionaries as they go our to share the Gospel. The Apostle said:

1 John 3:16-19 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. 19 And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.

James 2:15-17 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? 17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

As we have been given, let us give. Let us care for one another. Let us not worship money, but use it as a tool to spread the glorious Gospel of Christ.

Matthew 6:2-3 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:

When we give, we give so that God may see it – not man. The hypocrites is the Greek ὑποκριτής hypokritḗs, (pronounced hoop-ok-ree-tace’) which means “to be an actor or player on stage”. The Pharisees did not literally “sound the trumpet” before they gave to God’s Temple – but they did broadcast what they gave and when they gave so that others would see and praise them. To those who do such things Jesus said:

They have their reward

The God Whom we serve “looks at the heart of the giver” (1 Samuel 16:7). Jesus said that when we give:

let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth

Now Jesus wasn’t being literal here, but was exaggerating for effect (hyperbole). When you give, give so that God knows. Give to please this Audience of One.

The Disciple of Christ Talks To The Father

Matthew 6:5-6 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.

Let me start by saying that Jesus is not forbidding public prayer. Jesus Himself prayed publicly. He prayed so many times in the presence of His disciples that they asked Him:

Luke 11:1 And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.

There are some 222 prayers that have been recorded in the Bible: 176 in the Old Testament,
46 in the New Testament.

We have Abraham praying many times (Genesis 17:18; 19:24). Eliezer the servant of Abraham prayed that God would lead him to a bride for Isaac (Genesis 24:12-14). Jacob prayed for blessing (Genesis 28:20-22). Aaron prayed (Numbers 6:24-26). Moses prayed (Numbers 16:15). Gideon prayed (Judges 6:13-17). Prayer is found frequently throughout the Scripture.

The Lord is emphasizing that when we pray, we pray to the Audience of One. We are not to worry about or even focus on those around us as we pray. We enter the prayer closet of our minds and – as God enables – we pray. Not all people can pray publicly. That’s perfectly all right! Whether you pray publicly or not, you should still pray!

The Pharisees perverted public prayer:

they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men

God knows who you are speaking to. We are to be speaking to our Lord, not pretending to do so.

Matthew 6:7-8 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.

The “Heathen” is the Greek ἐθνικός ethnikós, (pronounced eth-nee-kos’) which means “ethnics” or “nations”. This is reference to those who are outside of the family of God. Both Jesus as well as Paul prayed the same words to God several times (Matthew 26:44; 2 Corinthians 12:8), so “vain repetitions” does not mean to use the same words more than once. It means to use meaningless babble when you speak to God. Prayer is an act of communication with a literal cognizant Person. Our God is not a stone idol. He is real. He is alive. And when we pray, we are communicating with our God.

The Child of God Prays This Way

Matthew 6:9-13 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

The reason the Lord gave us “The Lord’s Prayer” is because a disciple asked “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). The Lord’s Prayer is made up of seven phrases. The first three relate to God and His Kingdom. The last four are directed toward us, the believer in Christ. The prayer begins with:

  • Our Father”. Israel drifted away from God, and religion took over the Temple. The Jews were taught that they were to be extremely formal with God. To call Him “Father” was considered blasphemy. This is what religion does to the faith of God’s Family.God was frequently presented as “Father” to Israel in the Old Testament. Moses told Israel:

Deuteronomy 1:31 … in the wilderness, where thou hast seen how that the Lord thy God bare thee, as a man doth bear his son, in all the way that ye went, until ye came into this place.

King Solomon told Israel in Proverbs 3:12 that whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.

King David told Israel in Psalm 103:13 Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.

And through Malachi 3:17 … they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.

God is “our Father”. Our elder Brother Jesus died for us so that we could enter the Family of God. We are no longer strangers, but Sons, Sons of God by faith in Christ. God our Father loves us. He provides our needs.

Galatians 4:4-6 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. 6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

  • Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name”. To “hallow” God’s name is to recognize that He is holy, and that He is to be glorified. We hallow God’s name by being obedient as His children to do His will:

Isaiah 29:23 But when he seeth his children, the work of mine hands, in the midst of him, they shall sanctify my name, and sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and shall fear the God of Israel.

  • Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven”. I pray this prayer every day. At this point, I ask God to make His Will come to life in me, and in our Church, and in the Church that is in the world. I pray that we all become better citizens of His Kingdom NOW, not just when we get to Heaven. Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay for my sins, but rose from the Grave to lead me and us as His Children.
  • Give us this day our daily bread”. God wants us as His children to live a DAILY faith in Him. In the Old Testament God illustrated His provision to His children by the giving of manna. There was enough manna given each day for each person to take an omer, which is equivalent to 43.2 eggs or about 3.3 pounds. This was a daily ration. No one was to gather more than a daily ration, unless it was the morning before the Sabbath, in which case they could gather 2 days worth. If the Israelite tried to hoard manna it would turn wormy and stink (Exodus 16:13-21). We must trust God as our Father to care for us daily.

A man traveling in Turkey had a young teen as his guide. He saw a rare flower hanging from an inaccessible precipice, and decided he wanted it. He asked the young guide to climb down to where it was. He said, “I’ll tie a rope about your waist, and hold it while you climb down. You’ll be safe.” The young man said, “No, I’ll not do it that way. Let me go and get my father, and he can hold on to the rope. If father is holding on I know I’m safe.”

Christian, you have a Heavenly Father who will hold on to you. Trust Him daily to “hold the rope” of your life.

  • And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors”. We must forgive those who have hurt us, if we are the children of God. Jesus tells us just a bit further on:

Matthew 6:14-15 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Many people have read and even memorized the Lord’s Prayer, saying it daily (as I do), and yet carry grudges in their hearts over hurts that others have done to them. Jesus said quite plainly, “If you don’t forgive, you will not be forgiven”. If you belong to Jesus then the Lord demands you forgive others. Jesus said it, we must do it. Period!

  • and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”. We pray daily that God would lead us away from anything that makes us “less than light”. The devil – the evil one – does the best he can to put out our light. He wants us to be negative, to be morose, to be discouraged and disheartened – then to share that doom and gloom with the world. We pray that God would daily lead us away from temptations to darkness, and that He would “deliver us from the evil one”.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo were tempted to bow down to an idol that foolish King Nebuchadnezzar commissioned. (You can read of this in Daniel chapter 3). The King asked them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? … if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?” Today in America Christians are being told we need to bow down to the idols of this nation, idols like:

sexual immorality and perversion
money and power
wholesale murder of children via abortion
drug and alcohol abuse

We need to remember to do as the three Hebrew children did. They politely refused to bow down to these idols, trusting in God as their Father. Were they thrown in the furnace? Yes. But God stayed with them in that furnace – and they came out unharmed. As Oswald Chambers once said,

Faith for my deliverance is not faith in God. Faith means, whether I am visibly delivered or not, I will stick to my belief that God is love. There are some things only learned in a fiery furnace.”

  • For Thine is the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory forever. Amen. Some Bible versions remove this part of the Lord’s Prayer because of textual criticism. I still think it’s best. We need to remind ourselves as the Light of the world that we exist for God’s glory, and to expand HIS Kingdom, not ours.

Let us live for our Father while we draw breath. May God empower this message to reach your hearts and minds, through His Spirit I pray. Amen.

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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