28th January 2023
Read (Matthew 6v1-4)
Message (Scott Woodburn)
As a once newly married man I would often hover beside the dishwasher when Jenny came home from work. It wasn't that I liked standing beside the dishwasher, I merely wanted Jenny to know that not only had I filled the dishwasher but I had emptied it too. A pat on the back can be lovely from time to time but again Jesus warns us about the deceitfulness of the human heart.
Christ tells us to “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven." (v1) This couldn't be clearer. Everyday we are to do the good works that God has prepared for us to do but when we do those good works we don't shout about it for everyone to hear and see.
To underline His point Jesus paints a picture of giving to the needy. When we engage in such an act we are not to blow any trumpets before us (v2). Hypocrites do exactly this so that they might receive the praise of others (v2b) but the Christian is to do good quietly. If we give to the needy, no one else needs to know about it. If we are to visit the sick, we don't need to post it on Facebook. If we do good to the downhearted, we should never take out an advert in the Newsletter boasting about our works.
We are to act so quietly that Jesus even says our own left hand shouldn't know what our right hand is doing (v3). In other words if your right hand gives a generous financial gift, not even your left hand needs to know and certainly not your friends and neighbours down the street.
Jesus makes it crystal clear that the loud, boastful giver has already received their reward (v2). What reward does such a person receive? They might get the praise of their neighbours and for a time everyone might delight in such a person but their "reward" is fleeting and they can expect nothing from God for such sinfully arrogant works.
On the other hand if our giving is done in secret then the Lord who sees all things will reward us (v4). This isn't the key to health, wealth and prosperity - we are certainly not suggesting that we do good things secretly in order to get good things. This is an attitude just as bad as the one that blows the trumpet. Instead we do good things secretly and frequently knowing that the Lord sees our actions and knows our motives. We live this way in order to bring Him glory and to respond to the beauty of the Gospel. The individual whose life is marked by such humble service will certainly know God's blessing in this life and in the next.
Brothers and sisters, go forth and do good. Do as much good as the day allows. Do good liberally and frequently and humbly and quietly. Do good in work. Do good in life. Do good in the church "and whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him" (Colossians 3v17).
Q62 What are the reasons annexed to the fourth commandment? The reasons annexed to the fourth commandment are, God’s allowing us six days of the week for our own employments, his challenging a special propriety in the seventh, his own example, and his blessing the Sabbath day.