Church of Christ
Locks Cross Roads
1) Matthew 6 - Doing Alms
Jesus has not changed His subject, because this section (Matthew 6:1-18) is an examination of the religious motives
of His disciple. These motives should be the true explanation of the disciple's actions and should far exceed the
"righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees." The immediate connection with the foregoing section (Matthew 5:43
and 48) should also be clear: even the most sincere are sometimes turned aside from seeking to be perfect in the
Father's judgment (Matthew 5:48) by the praise or censure of men. As preparation for the section which follows
(Matthew 6:19-34), this part lays the groundwork by exposing superficial believers who would try to serve both God
and their own interests at the same time.
Therefore, religion meets its test in the deeds it producces; not mere acts, but deeds which proceed from a heart of
active faith in God.
In a time when religion is persecuted, or despised as it was in Jesus' day, it would be the duty of religious men not to
hide their convictions. The fact that the gained credit by praying at street corners when the hour of prayer came,
and would have lost credit with the people had they not done so, was not recognized by them as cheapening the
moral worth of the action. The succeeding generations, in continuing the practice were hypocrites.
When religion becomes habitual, the mind can easily go elsewhere while the body automatically continues the
external acts called worship.
Jesus showed that bad motives in the heart always produce wicked deeds and that the motives themselves are
condemned. There is such a thing as being damned for doing the right thing in the wrong way or from the wrong
Being empty-hearted, the hypocrite often resorts to quite shoddy imitations of real religion, because their express
purpose is that of keeping up appearances and of exalting themselves to get what they want, and they wish to pay
as little as possible.
Their avowed purpose is doing their righteousness before men to be seen of them, since they have come to look
upon these acts as a means of purchasing the respect of men and the favor of God. The problem is not whether
the deeds are seen or not, but whether we seek the glory of God or of men.
The hypocrite's "righteousness" is SIN regardless of the magnitude of their deeds (Matthew 7:21-23, 1st Corinthians
13:1-3). Ironically, the praise they sought was found to be worthless toward gaining entrance into the Kingdom. In
fact, it cost many their one great opportunity to gain it. Only a fool would seek after the empty praise that men can
give, only to lose the eternal reward of the Father (John 5:44, John 12:42-43).
Matthew 6:2 Sound not a trumpet. This may be a figure of speech, deliberately exaggerated by Jesus for effect.
Probably Jesus is taking a humorous poke at such hypocrisy. Jesus spares no words for those who sin by
self-glorification, which they try to bring about by feigning unselfishness. While they give the impression that they
intend to give to the needy, their real motive is to receive honor from men's praise. They do this in the synagogues
and streets: to assure a ready audience.
They got paid off in the coin they used.
If we would free ourselves from being overly conscious of men's praise, rather than invite their attention to what we
do, we must not even give our actions the whole of our own attention.
Jesus does not intend a mechanical rule for hiding our gifts. One might hide all his giving in the secret hope of
eventually being discovered and then being praised for the saintly secrecy of his gifts. If men never learn of others'
giving, they can hardly praise them, and, as a consequence, these latter are not likely to be disturbed by others'
praise that never comes. Jesus wants His disciples to learn to be satisfied with having helped someone, without any
ulterior thoughts about their being noticed and admired.
Not all righteous deeds could be concealed (Acts 4:36-37). In fact, He Himself called attention to the unselfishness
of the poor widow (Mark 12:41-44). Paul publicized the liberality of the Macedonian Christians (2nd Corinthians
8:1-5, 2nd Corinthians 9:1-5) to stimulate the giving of the Corinthians. But the Christian is to study ways to avoid
display, for it is never necessary to see to it that others see our deeds, even in order to cause them to glorify God.
Such deeds cannot long be hid, if they represent really unselfish service for Jesus' sake (1st Timothy 5:24).
The Father sees in secret. What a man does in secret reveals more about him than all his known, public acts could
ever tell about him. God knows these secret desires and motives, and judges the man accordingly (Romans 2:16,
1st Corinthians 4:5, Hebrews 6:10).
Your Father shall recompense you. The hypocrite has a thousand judges whom he can never trust to bless him,
nor can he ever hope to satisfy their fickle nature. But a man who trusts God can work his way through life, helping
people, knowing exactly where he is going and whom he is trying to please. And he is quite happy doing just that.