Sermon Notes

Give, not like the hypocrites


  • Christ’s famous sermon on the mount is all about the Christian life, and this Christian life can be summed up in one word – “righteousness”.For only those with the new life in Christ, can think the new way (the Christian way), and only those who think this new way, can live out this new life (the Christian living).So, in chapter 5, Jesus began with the beatitudes that described the clear view of this new life, and then proceeded to talk about the new way of thinking where the law of God is not abolished but fulfilled, where man-made standards of outer piety are directed inward to the individual human heart. 
    And now as we continue on in chapter 6, we see Jesus now address the new way of living.
  • If there’s one thing that we can all agree upon, it is that God is Holy. He is righteous. Everything He does is right and just.And therefore, whether the Jew in Jesus’ time or the Christian in ours, all seek to be right before God. Righteousness is very important to us. And so, when I say that the Christian life is summed up in the word “righteousness”, you see that in Christ’s sermon here. For righteousness seems to be that common thread upon which Jesus talks about the new life, the new way of thinking, and the new way of living.In the beginning of this sermon on the mount, Jesus establishes that the blessedness of the new life is evidence in those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, and that such people will be persecuted for the sake of that righteousness. And we have two rewards here for such pursuit and persecution, 1) that we would be satisfied, and 2) that ours is the kingdom of heaven.And then, how does Jesus teach us to think the new way? By having a higher view of righteousness in our lives, greater than that of the Pharisees and Scribes. So, from pursuit and persecution, Jesus also clarifies the true standards of righteousness that must be pursued.And now, in chapter 6, we have Jesus telling us that this righteousness should not be self-made, but God-established. It must be righteousness that is practiced in this new way of living, not for the sake of selfish gain, but for the sake of God’s glory. If you do good things with bad motives, you will have no reward from the Heavenly Father.
  • Last week, we saw this in detail.
    Positional Righteousness to Practical Righteousness
    When we say that we are saved in Christ Jesus, what we are referring to is our positional righteousness in Christ. The work of Jesus on the cross was to take our sins upon Himself, and cloth us instead with His own perfect righteousness. We call this the beautiful exchange. The Father looks at us who belongs to Christ, covered in Christ’s righteousness. This parallels what we saw during the Great Passover during the Israel captivity in Egypt, when God’s wrath passed over the houses with the lamb’s blood on its door posts. In the same way, God’s judgment passes over us, those of us who are covered in the blood of Christ.However, being positionally righteous in Christ does not automatically make us righteous in all practical aspects. Such righteousness in our day to day living is meant to be pursued and practiced. In other words, we are saved in Christ to be conformed daily to the likeness of Christ. 


  • I’d like to make a few observations about versus 2-18, before we begin.
    • Everyone who confesses God, desires to be righteous. Every self-proclaimed Christians desires to be righteous. But where do they begin? 
      • They begin with the fundamental aspects of righteousness, namely giving, praying, and fasting.
      • It isn’t a question of “if” we give, pray or fast, but “when”. So again, these aren’t man-made pursuits of righteousness. God expects us to be givers, prayerful, and fasting. But beware, of practicing such righteousness out of wrong motives.
      • Why does Jesus start with ‘giving’, and then move on to ‘prayer’ and ‘fasting’? He should’ve started with prayer, right? Now, whatever may be Jesus’ reason for doing that, I recognise that such is often times the order of the human heart.You see, when we admire someone or want to be like them, the first thing we do is to act like them. [From movie stars, to mentors, to friends, to colleagues]
        When we want to be like that preacher, or this passionate Christians, and we observe them long enough, we begin to pick up on their external traits. We begin to talk like they talk, use their vocabulary, and pursue to do things the way they do them. [hungering and thirsting after the hunger and thirst, instead of the righteousness]
        Too often, we want to be like them, but we don’t want to be them. We want to be like Paul, but we don’t want to be Paul and have to go through what he went through.Therefore, when one wants to show himself to be a child of God, he often begins by acting the way that would make this seem most apparent. And giving, was considered, then and now, as a great sign of piety.
      • So, giving, praying, and fasting are things we consider as fundamental to our current standing, and our further pursuit, of righteousness. And Jesus speaks to each of these things.
    • Do not be like the Hypocrites. In each of these sections, Jesus tells us how not to live this new life. He attributes false piety or self-righteousness, to being hypocritical.
      The greek word for hypocrite is commonly used to refer to stage ‘actors’. These actors used to perform under masks, and then switched characters by switching these masks.
  • Matthew 6:2-4“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 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. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you
    • Thus
      • The foundational context of this portion is v1 where Jesus warned us of practicing righteousness out of lousy and sinful motives.
      • So, from that he connects this passage by saying ‘thus’
      • Here is Jesus giving you and me the practical instruction on how living the new life in Christ ought to look like in your giving.
    • when you
      • Again, He doesn’t say ‘if’, but ‘when’. This is not optional in the life of a Christian. A Christian is a giver, a provider to those in need.
    • give
      • The original word refers to being charitable. This is important for us to understand.
      • Giving here, is not under compulsion. It is charity. Such a giving is an act of help that is extended to the one to whom you’re being charitable. The impetus of such an act is the desire to help the other individual, and not ourselves.Proverbs 21:25-2625  The desire of the sluggard kills him,
        for his hands refuse to labor.
        26  All day long he craves and craves,
        but the righteous
        gives and does not hold back.
        Luke 14:12-14 – He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. 13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”
    • to the needy,
      • Now, that begs the question – who is the needy? Jesus says that I am to give to the needy, but who are the needy?
      • Matthew 5:4242 Give to the one who begs from you, and edo not refuse the one who would borrow from you.
      • Beloved, do not be quick to qualify the needs of the needy, be quick to give. If the ‘so-called’ needy begin to use you for granted, or you know with specific detail that if you give to someone, it will do them more harm than good, then you may refrain.
        But let your instinctive reaction be always to reach for your purse.
    • sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.
      • The mark of true righteousness is that it is concerned with pleasing God, whereas self-righteousness is concerned with pleasing other people. True righteousness seeks after God’s praise, whereas self-righteousness seeks the praise of other men. The latter is what the hypocrites (these actors of piety) typically did.
      • They are hypocrites. For they wear the mask of piety and holiness, but inwardly are people-pleasing, selfish, self-absorbed men and women who desire nothing other than the furtherance of their interests. They wear the mask of humility over the face of pride. They cover vanity with the mask of piety.
        They pursue the external acts of righteousness that fool people, but does not fool God. And so, they abandon true knowledge, and pursue their own righteousness, and are truly lost.
      • They will receive their reward, not the heavenly reward which God gives, but the earthly reward which will whither away along with the mortal world.
    • 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. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you
      • Secrecy is a wonderful covering for a charitable heart.
      • Such will receive a reward from the Father.
        Luke 6:38 38 give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”How then, must one understand this verse?


    • 2 Corinthians 9:6-15The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written,“He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor;
      his righteousness endures forever.” (Psalm 112:9)
      10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. 12 For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. 13 By their approval of this service, they6 will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, 14 while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. 15 Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!

      • Why does God give plentifully to the one who is generous, according to this text? He does so in order that with multiplied seed, one might sow even more. We are enriched in every way in order that we may be generous in every way.
        In short, God does not promise us abundant returns for our generosity in order for us to be lavish on ourselves. That would defeat the purpose. In fact, Jesus teaches us that we are not to treasure the things of this world, but the things of heaven. For where our treasure is, there will our heart also be.
        Therefore, God gives more to the giving in order that they may abound in giving.
  • Why must we give?
    • Because everything that we are, and have, has been give to us by our generous Father in heaven.
      Acts 17:24-2524 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.
    • In 1 Corinthians 12 we read that even the gifts and talents that we receive from the Holy Spirit have been given to us.
      Salvation is given to us by the Lord.
    • He gives food for the lilies of the field and the birds of the air (Matthew 6:25-33).

  • What must we give?
    • This Jesus whom we serve gave His very life for our sake. And He has taught us that greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friend (John 15:13).
    • We are called to love our neighbours, even our enemies. So we must be prepared to give whatever we have, when Christ requires it of us. (Luke 6:28)
  • When must we give?
    • We must be prepared to give whenever it is called upon us to do so. We do not know when the needy will appear, or the situation would raise itself.
    • God’s givers must be generous by nature and willing to give whenever it is required.
  • How must we give?
    • As we studied, God loves a cheerful giver. We must give cheerfully.
  • Where, or to whom must we give?
    • Any who are in need, Jew or Greek, Saved or Unsaved, Good or Evil, Friend or Foe. (Matthew 5:45)
Michael Teddy Fernandez

Author Michael Teddy Fernandez

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