Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes -

Matthew: Jesus As Israel's Messiah And His Kingdom
Part XI: Christ As Israel's Messiah By His Surpassing Righteousness
J. The Biblically Consistent Righteousness Of Christ's Subjects Regarding Giving
(Matthew 6:1-4)
  1. Introduction
    1. When Jesus said that one's righteousness had to exceed that of the scribes and the Pharisees if he were to be a part of the Kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:20), He had to clarify to His Hebrew listeners how that could be, for the Pharisees adhered to the principle of Halacha, "concern for every jot and tittle of performance" regarding the Mosaic Law, Zondervan Pictorial Ency. of the Bible, volume Four, p. 748.
    2. Matthew 5:21-7:6 provides many illustrations of Jesus' point, with Matthew 6:1-4 commenting on how His kingdom righteousness on the subject of giving far surpassed that of the Pharisees (as follows):
  2. The Biblically Consistent Righteousness f Christ's Subjects Regarding Giving, Matthew 6:1-4.
    1. Where Matthew 5:21-48 focused on what the Pharisees taught due to what they believed, Matthew 6:1-18 focused on what they practiced as part of their religion, John MacArthur, Matthew 1-7 , 1985, p. 351.
    2. The Pharisees were notoriously externalists, believing one's righteousness involved primarily how he related to other people rather than a matter of the heart relationship with God, but this errant view of righteousness left them open to hypocrisy in action to where they impressed others with false, ungodly motives, Bible Knowledge Commentary, New Testament, p. 32; Ibid., MacArthur, p. 352.
    3. Accordingly, Jesus began His critique of the Pharisees' external religiosity by warning His disciples not to practice their righteousness before men to be seen by and so to impress men, for doing that left one with no reward from God since the act was hypocritically external, not true, inward righteousness, Matt. 6:1.
    4. To illustrate this charge, Jesus alluded to the practice of almsgiving, and critiqued the hypocritical way Israel's Pharisees practiced it in Matthew 6:2:
      1. Opposite what the religious Pharisees did, Jesus directed His disciples not to try to attract public attention to what they were giving as did these folk did in the synagogues and the streets where the beggars collected, Matthew 6:2a.
      2. Rather, such donors seek the honor of onlooking humans rather than the honor of God, so the only reward they will gain in such almsgiving is the reward of human onlookers, Matthew 6:2b.
      3. The implication is that they do not receive God's reward, for God does not want those who give to impress other people in pride over their contributions, for doing that detracts from the glory that is due the Lord, the Provider of everything that anyone has to give in the first place! (1 Timothy 6:17)
    5. Rather, Jesus directed that giving should not be done to impress human onlookers, but to gain God's approval as an act of the heart where God alone receives the glory in the giving effort, Matthew 6:3-4a:
      1. The expression of not letting one's left hand know what his right hand does in giving "was possibly a proverbial expression that simply referred to doing something spontaneously, with no special effort or show . . . (I)n a normal day's work the right hand would do many things as a matter of course that would not involve the left hand. Giving to help those in need should be a normal activity of the Christian, and he should do it as simply, directly, and discreetly as possible," Ibid., p. 356-357.
      2. Jesus' reference to performing one's giving "in secret" may refer to the Jewish tradition "that there was in the temple a chamber of secrets' into which the devout used to put their gifts in secret so that the poor could receive support therefrom in secret." (Ryrie Study Bible, KJV, 1978, ftn. to Matthew 6:4)
      3. Thus, one's giving should be spontaneous, simple, direct, discreet, and done not to attract human attention, but to address real needs in God's family and work as an act of personal worship to the Lord.
    6. Consequently, Jesus taught that such truly righteous giving would be openly rewarded before all men by God the Father Himself, Matthew 6:4b.
Lesson: True righteousness in giving is not giving with the intent of gaining approval from human onlookers in hypocrisy, but giving done with the intent of meeting real needs others face as an act of worship unto God. This way, one exchanges the reward of mere human approval for God's approval.

Application: May we not give publicly for human glory, but in secret to please God from the heart.