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                        "THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW"

                    Charity That Pleases God (6:1-4)

INTRODUCTION

1. Are you a charitable person?
   a. If so, are you sure that your charity is pleasing to God?
   b. Were you aware that some forms of charity actually displease God?

2. In Jesus' day, there were religious people who were extremely 
   charitable...
   a. The Pharisees, for example, would give ten percent to God - e.g.,
      Lk 18:11-12
   b. They tithed even the smallest of seeds - Lk 11:42
   -- But as indicated in these two cases, not all charity or giving
      pleased God

3. In His sermon on the mount, Jesus taught His disciples to have a
   righteousness which exceeded that of the Pharisees - Mt 5:20
   a. Jesus first contrasted the "righteousness of the kingdom" with
      what the scribes and Pharisees were teaching
   b. He then contrasted what He expected of His disciples with what
      the scribes and Pharisees were practicing

[In Mt 6:1-4, we find the first of several examples concerning the
practice of righteousness.  In it, we learn about "Charity That Pleases
God."   Note first what Jesus taught about...]

I. THE BASIC PRINCIPLE GOVERNING ACTS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS (1)

   A. CONCERNING THIS VERSE...
      1. Some manuscripts, upon which the KJV and NKJV are based, have
         the Greek word eleemosunen
         a. Translated "alms", or "charitable deeds"
         b. Which would make this verse refer specifically to 
            almsgiving, or charitable deeds
      2. Older manuscripts, upon which the ASV and NASV are based, have
         the Greek word dikaiosunen
         a. Translated "righteousness"
         b. Which would make verse one speaking in general terms, 
            establishing the principle to be applied to ALL acts of 
            righteousness
      -- Textual support seems strongest for dikaiosunen, making verse
         one an introductory statement concerning all righteous acts

   B. THE BASIC PRINCIPLE...
      1. Stated simply:  we are not to do acts of righteousness to be
         seen of men - Mt 6:1a
         a. Note:  It is NOT to completely avoid ANY practice of 
            righteousness before men - cf. Mt 5:16
         b. Rather, it is to avoid doing them JUST TO BE SEEN OF MEN
      2. Therefore, it is proper to do good works before men...
         a. When we are trying to secure praise for GOD
         b. But not when we are trying to secure praise for OURSELVES!

   C. CONSEQUENCES OF IGNORING THIS BASIC PRINCIPLE...
      1. If, in the innermost being of your heart, you do not mean to
         please and glorify God, He will not reward you!
      2. What reward you may have (cf. Mt 6:2,5,16) will be limited to
         the praise of men

[Let's now consider how Jesus applies this to the matter of charitable
deeds...]

II. CONCERNING CHARITABLE DEEDS (2-4)

   A. WHAT "NOT" TO DO...
      1. Don't be like the "hypocrites" (literally, "actors") - Mt 6:2a
         a. Who sound trumpets in the synagogues and streets
         b. Who are looking to be honored by men
      2. "They have their reward" - Mt 6:2b
         a. They receive exactly (and only) what they wanted:  the 
            praise of men
         b. But remember verse one...
            1) They have no reward from the Father in heaven
            2) Neither in the present or in the future!

   B. CHARITY THAT PLEASES GOD...
      1. "Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing"
         - Mt 6:3
         a. This involves avoiding not only the praise of others, but
            self praise as well
         b. Some thoughts by others on what this metaphor means:
            1) "The right [hand], [represents] me with my good deed;
               the left, me with my good opinion about my deed." 
               (Lenksi)
            2) "The expression probably refers to the fact that as much
               as possible a person must keep his voluntary 
               contribution a secret not only to others but even to
               himself; that is, he should forget about it, instead of
               saying in his heart, `What a good man, woman, boy, girl,
               am I!'" (Hendricksen)
         c. How can one develop the ability to give in this way?
            1) Perhaps by giving so often it becomes "second nature"
            2) So that you do it without much thought (just as with 
               anything you do often)
      2. Note: Jesus is not condemning public giving per se - cf. Ac 2:
         44-45; 4:34-37
         a. He is condemning the spirit which seeks publicity
         b. He is teaching "secret-giving" in the sense of "secret to
            one's self"
         c. "The true Christian cares not how much men hear of his
            public charities, nor how little they hear of his private
            ones." (Toplady)

   C. THE REWARD FOR CHARITY THAT PLEASES GOD...
      1. "Your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you 
         openly." - Mt 6:4
      2. The reward may be experienced to some degree in this life - Psa
         41:1-3
      3. Without a doubt it will be experienced on the day of judgment
         a. For every secret thing will be made known - Ec 12:14
         b. We will experience the benefit of the good we have done 
            - 2Co 5:10
   
CONCLUSION

1. Christians who have been blessed materially have been given a charge
   to be "rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share" - 1 Ti
   6:17-19

2. But if we desire that our charity will indeed store up "a good
   foundation for the time to come"...
   a. We must be sure to practice "Charity That Pleases God"
   b. We must learn to give, not to be seen of men, but to glorify God
   c. We must learn to give without self-praise for what we are doing

Do our charitable deeds exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees in
Jesus' day, not only in quantity, but in the quality of our giving? May
the Lord keep us free from the giving of hypocrites!
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