The Principles for Doing and Giving
At the end of the symphony concert the audience rose in applause. A person who really enjoyed this concert noticed two ushers standing near his seat were applauding harder than anybody else in the whole place. The man said that he was thrilled with this particular concert because of the talent of the musicians. It thrilled him even more to see these two ushers standing there applauding more vigorously than the entire concert goers. His experience was somewhat diminished when he heard one usher say to the other, “Keep clapping. If we can get them to do another encore, we get overtime!”
- How disappointing - these two ushers were only applauding so long and so hard because it would mean a few more dollars in their pockets.
- Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount that there are people who do good things for the wrong reasons - It might seem at the outset that they’re trying to do what is right but it ends up that they only do it for their own benefit.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture as Karen reads about having the right motives when it comes to giving.
Matthew 6:1-4 (NIV)
1 "Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, 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 men. I tell you the truth, 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.
- Jesus is encouraging His disciples to play to an audience of One - to covet only the approval of the Heavenly Father.
- He was urging those sitting on the hillside that should not be people pleasers seeking to impress others, because a few will cheer. The only one that you should desire to please is God.
- If you get your self-worth from the approval of people, you’re mood is going to be frequently depressed and your performance often erratic.
- But God is faithful. He is always rooting for you. He wants the best for you and, in the end, it’s only His favor that matters.
- This is a passage that speaks to those of us who are tempted to be people-pleasers. Some of us have such a ravenous hunger for praise that they will go to almost any length to get it.
- If you have a hard time saying “no” to anyone, it is a good chance that you are seeking their approval. You want so much to be liked that it’s almost impossible to do it God’s way.
- If you’re always wondering what people will say, what people will think, how people will respond you are going to be always manipulated by them.
- When people approve you, you’re up, when someone is upset with you you’re devastated.
- Your whole life is viewed as a stage performance seeking the applause and
avoiding the disapproval of the crowd.
- Be careful that when it comes to spiritual service, instead of seeking God’s approval, you’re most concerned about what people think. Let’s take a close look at what Jesus is saying here. I like how Eugene Peterson translates this passage.
1 "Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don't make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won't be applauding. 2-4"When you do something for someone else, don't call attention to yourself. You've seen them in action, I'm sure—'play-actors' I call them— treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that's all they get. When you help someone out, don't think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out.
- JESUS GIVES A WARNING AGAINST SELF-PROMOTION "Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don't make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won't be applauding.
- We all instinctively want to be liked. Even little kids want mom and dad to watch them. From the time we’re born we want approval and attention.
- Teenagers want more than anything to be popular. They are careful to dress, talk, and act in whatever fashion is acceptable among their peers. You got to have the right phone and wear the right clothes. You can’t buy your clothes at Dollar General.
- Even nonconformity is a way of drawing attention to self. -Body piercing, tattoos, green hair, and black lipstick are means of saying, “Look at me!”
- Hey adults don’t be too critical we worry, “What will the neighbors say if we don’t mow our grass in a straight line.
- We care what people think of us and that’s not altogether bad. The Bible says we ought to be sensitive to our witness to others. The problem with people-pleasers is they become overly concerned with what other people think.
- Jesus’ warning in this passage is not about doing evil but about doing good just to impress people. On the surface this seems to contradict what Jesus said in Mt. 5:16 – “… let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
- The difference is in motive. Are you doing the good deed to exalt Christ or to promote self? It’s the self-centeredness of it all that Jesus warns against. Why do we do what we do?
- “Look I know I’m supposed to be humble, but what if no one notices?” When we are humble we want to be noticed but we lose our humbleness if it is showy.
- We want people to notice our goodness. Jesus says “Don’t be so concerned about what people think that you do religious things to impress them.”
- If you’re tempted to be a people-pleaser let me share four good reasons to quit worrying so much about what people think of you.
- People are fickle. They can applaud you one minute and condemn you the next. You can’t please people. They’re so inconsistent in both praise and condemnation
- Most people don’t really care about you anyway. “If you worry too much about what people think of you, you’d probably be disappointed to discover how seldom they did.” Why spend so much time worrying about someone else’s opinion when they really don’t notice?
- The most popular people are those who don’t try to please others. It’s kind of a paradox, the less self-conscious you are, the more likely you are to be liked. The people who try too hard to please are rejected, while the people who don’t seem to care what others think are the most respected for their courage, uninhibited behavior, and self-confidence.
- One of the things that made Jesus so attractive to his contemporaries was that He wasn’t very concerned about the opinions of people.
- One of his detractors admitted this trait to Jesus in Mt. 22:16 – “We know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are”
- In the end only God’s evaluation matters. Jn. 5:30 – Jesus says: “I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.”
- Paul says in Gal. 1:10 – Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? …If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.
- JESUS GIVES AN EXAMPLE OF A HYPOCRITE WHO SOUGHT TO IMPRESS OTHERS WITH HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS
Mt. 6:2-4a – “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 men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret.”
- Jesus calls those who do good things with selfish intentions hypocrites. That word comes into our language directly from the New Testament Greek language. It means “an actor who wears a mask”
- In the theatre of Jesus’ day, one actor could play several roles on stage. They designated the changing of the role onstage by wearing different masks.
- A hypocrite in its simplest sense is someone who pretends to be something that in reality they are not. Evidently the Pharisees, who craved the praise of men, sometimes made a big show out of what they gave to the temple treasury.
- In the Jewish system of worship, they didn’t pass the offering plate and people didn’t give by anonymous envelopes or folded checks. The treasury boxes were set outside the worship area and people gave their money as they came in.
- There is nothing wrong with giving to good causes but it is the attitudes behind the giving that need to be checked is what Jesus is saying.
- Go to almost any hospital in America and you can read plaques like “This wing donated by so and so,” and a family is listed who has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to that hospital.
- This is an important way to raise funds for a project. But Jesus raised the bar once again. He uses a unique phrase that puzzles some people in our age: “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.”
- Notice Jesus assumes that if we’re subjects to the King of kings and want to live according to his expectations, we will be “givers.” He doesn’t say “if you give” but “when you give.” Being generous in helping meet the needs of others was a mark of the early church
- The phrase “don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing” was a reference to your best friends.
- Jesus us saying, “Don’t dwell on or gloat over how much we’ve given.”
- He also means that we shouldn’t call attention to our giving. Be satisfied with having no one know what you give but God.
- JESUS GIVES A MOTIVATION FOR SEEKING GOD’S APPROVAL
- Mt. 6:4b – “Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
Some people downplay this truth, but there is a legitimate reward motive in the Christian life.
- There are a number of athletic commercial that have athletes making commitments alone. There’s a television ad during football games that features an athlete running up the steps of an empty stadium. No one is watching, but he’s really sweating and grinding it out in discipline. The ad points out that he’s going through all that hard work so that he can receive the reward of winning on the weekend.
- God asks us to discipline our lives, to deny self and take up the cross so that we can win the victory of eternal life.
- He promises that, while we’re saved by grace and not works, we are going to be rewarded for our works.
- I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve downplayed the reward factor in the past and I still don’t know how it’s all going to work out. My personal belief is that the real reward is spending eternity with God
- Even though the Bible promises “stars” in our crowns in heaven, it also tells us that in the presence of the King of kings and Lord of lords we’ll cast our crowns into the glassy sea described in the book of Revelation.
- However, there is no doubt that Jesus taught about rewards to come and that concept can certainly change our attitudes about what you are doing today.
- Tim Keller imagines two guys in a room who are given an assignment of folding papers for 12 hours straight. The first guy quits after three hours. He says, “I can’t stand this. This is driving me crazy!” But the second guy is delighted. He keeps working saying, “This is the greatest day of my life! This is a joy!” He folds paper for 12 hours straight. What’s the difference? The first guy is working for minimum wage. The second guy is promised a million dollars if he stays. A reward is a big motivator to attitude and faithfulness.
- Listen to these verses that promise a reward commensurate with our faithfulness on Earth:
- Mt. 16:27 – “For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.”
- Mt. 19:29-30 – “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.”
- Eph. 6:8 - …because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does.
- Understand that the reward the Heavenly Father promises is not just eternal, it’s immediate. If you support this church with your money and service, when you see lost people saved, children taught the Word of God, hurting people comforted, and homes united, there should be a sense of satisfaction within.
- We ought to feel good that we’ve had a part in seeing people ministered to and God being honored.
- We ought to say to ourselves, “I’ve helped make that happen.” That in itself is a great reward.
- Watchman Nee: “I have never met a soul who has set out to satisfy the Lord and has not been satisfied himself.”
- But the glory is we get all that and heaven too.
CONCLUSION: Joshua played basketball in high school. He was good ball player and could have been one of the top scorers in the conference but that was not the role that Coach Swick asked him to play. He asked Josh to stop the other team’s top scorer. He also was asked during practice to guard our top scorer who was 6 inches taller than Josh. Practice after practice Josh guarded Kyle. Many a night he’d score just a few points. He didn’t make the papers very often. At the end of the season the Coach’s award went to the player who did what the coach wanted without grumbling or complaining – it went to the player that would do anything to win the game – it went to Josh Cook. Coach Swick remarked that this award went to Josh Cook because he did what I asked him to do. If you would have asked Josh if wanted to score more points he would tell you yes. But I didn’t ask him to do that. I asked him to shut down their top scorer and he did. I asked him to play tough against Kyle and he did. Want to be an excellent player model yourself after Josh Cook.
Maybe your Heavenly Father designed you to play a role that doesn’t get much applause.
- If you have a behind-the-scenes assignment where you’re defending and preparing others to get the applause and not getting much glory, can you still be content?
- Be a God pleaser not a person pleaser.