Matthew 6:1-4 — Is It All About Giving God Glory or Is It All About Giving Me Glory?

Posted: October 10, 2015 in Gospel of Matthew
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Matthew 6:1-4
Giving to the Needy
Buildings with our names on them. That is a lofty aspiration to have. The Mark Bowling School of Theology at North Greenville University. Wow! That would be something, wouldn’t it? That would require me to be much richer, by worldly standards, than I am right now. Sometimes, you wonder when people give huge sums of money to their alma mater as to what was their motivation. Was it a tax write-off as their main motivation? Was it to see their name on the side of a building forever (well, at least until the building falls down 150 years from now)? Or was it because they wanted to see the school be able to educate young minds in way that was financially and physically impossible before? When we work at the biggest event of our church each year, the Thanksgiving Meal Giveaway, do we do it to make ourselves feel good? Do we do it to be seen doing it? Do we participate in the corporate events so that our fellow church partners will see us and then we do not care for the widow next door? Do we walk down to put our offering in the plate to be seen giving but yet we don’t have but a dollar bill in the envelope? Do we give sacrificially or give our leftovers? Do we give coats to a coat drive but yet fail to care for a family in need because there is no one there to see us do it? Just what is our motivation for charity? Are we giving and doing for others because we expect to get something back from it (fame, notoriety, tax deduction, eternal servitude from the one we helped)? Jesus hits us square in the eye with His next statement.

As we open Chapter 6 of Matthew, here in Verses 1-4, Jesus takes us to task as what our motivation for being his follower truly is when He says, 1 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

In his sermon on this passage, “What is Ted Turner Doing”, Rev. Adrian Dieleman says, “In our text Jesus speaks against strippers — spiritual strippers. ‘Spiritual exhibitionism’ is repulsive to Him.” What Dieleman is getting at is about our motivations for Christian, or perceived Christian, acts. Are we performing acts of kindness out of genuine care for our fellow man or are we doing it to get our name in the paper or at the very least a public pat on the back? In the Scripture, Jesus asks this very question. Therefore, it appears that Jesus ultimately is getting at pride. Our righteousness should be authentic and personal. What we do should be for the honor and glory of God; not ourselves. If the cameras aren’t there, if there isn’t a chance for personal publicity, if there is not a chance for a public ego massage, would we still help a family in need? Would we donate money to a worthy cause? Would we donate our time to uplift those less fortunate? Jesus says God knows our heart and knows our motivations.

This passage reminds me of the You Tube video that many of you have seen called “The Good-o-Meter”. Here’s the link if you have not seen it – http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=The+good-o-meter&aq=f. All of the people that get passed over are telling of all the positive things for society that they have done. As it is said in the Bible that faith without action is dead; then so the opposite is also true. But if you do good works but don’t have genuine faith, then you are just as spiritually dead, because the works aren’t really “good.” They are done for your glory and not for God’s. Works without faith is just as dead. As noted in the clip, God sees straight those to our true motivations. Our proud expectations of what will be said to us at the Pearly Gates will be confounded because of the lack of a humble heart. As the clip also shows us, regardless of what we do, we are doomed to failure at God’s throne as it is said in Romans 3:23-24 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. It is from this realization that our entrance to Heaven is ONLY through grace and our own humility at how far short we measure up against God’s standard of perfection can we realize the glories of Heaven. It is from this undeserved gift that we arise feeling truly, truly blessed. We consider ourselves as freed criminals who deserved the death penalty. What joy there is in our salvation through the gift of Jesus Christ! It is joy my friends. That joy is where our motivation must come. We are just giddy at the freedom from sin’s penalty that we have been granted (not earned).

When we are full of this joy that comes from our salvation, we can’t help ourselves from helping others. It is from our overflow of joy. We want others to experience the same joy that we have found. It matters not whether the stage lights are on or not. We love and we care because we have joy. Our motivation is to give God glory and give Him thanksgiving. We are driven to give God glory in everything. We are driven to see joy amidst struggle because we know what we have been saved from. Even in our darkest hours, we can see a way toward joy. We can see that it will get better. It will get better either in this life or in heaven, one or the other. There is peace in that knowledge. Let us be a people that are motivated by the joy of our salvation in Jesus Christ. Let us be a people who give to others not because we want something in return but rather that we find it as a way to give glory to God. Let us be a people that give because, maybe, in the giving, we can show others who Jesus Christ is in real, practical ways.

This is not some check your salvation thing if you are not giving generously or if you have some self-centered motivation for your giving. Our salvation is secure when we proclaim to the universe that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior and believe wholeheartedly in Him. However, we are to examine our motives because we are of sin nature. Our salvation is secure but our sanctification is a life-long process of the Holy Spirit becoming greater and our sin nature becoming less as we mature in Christ. Part of maturing in Christ is to see the areas of our life where we need to give control over to the Holy Spirit. As we mature in Christ, we make conscious choices for change when the Holy Spirit points out to us where we are not like Christ. Pride is certainly one of those areas that we struggle with as maturing Christ followers.

Jesus, thus, in this passage, is calling us to check our motivations. Is it for God’s glory that we do things publicly in His name? Do you want a position of leadership at church so as to glorify God or further your agenda? Is me desiring full-time ministry a God-calling or an ego-calling? Is pride motivating you or is giving glory to our Savior motivating you? If the latter is true, it will not matter whether people see us helping our neighbor or not. You help your neighbor because of giving glory to God and to allow others to see God at work through us. It’s all about Him! That should be our catchphrase! That should be the test by we measure everything we do. Is this all about Him?

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