As Christians, we know that giving is not enough. If we give, we must have the right attitude and motivation. If not, our giving will be in vain. Thus, it is vital for us to understand the teaching of Christ.
In this blog, let us take an in-depth look at what Matthew 6:1-4 really means. Let us learn what Jesus has to say about giving.
A story about giving
I want to start this blog by sharing with you a relevant story about giving.
One day, a dad gave two cents to his son. He said, “Son, when you go to church, you give one cent as an offering, and the other is for you to buy ice cream.”
On his way to the church, he accidentally dropped one cent, and it rolled down the storm drain.
Shocked by what happened, he looked at the remaining one cent and slowly lifted up his head. He whispered, “Well, God, there goes your one cent.”
Moral lesson of the story
The very idea of giving sets off an internal war within us.
It seems that giving is unnatural. It is easier to keep something than to give it.
Since we own these material things and we have our name on it, we feel that we are the rightful owner. As a result, we forget that we are just stewards of the things that we have.
However, in reality, we are not the rightful owner, but God has just given these things for us to take care of.
In the story I just shared, we know that God owns both of the one-cent coins. When it comes to making a choice, between giving and getting, what do we do? Do we give? Or do we get?
A deeper look at Matthew 6:1-4
When it comes to giving, there are a lot of principles throughout the Bible that we need to remember. However, for the purpose of this short blog, I just want us to focus on what Jesus has to say about this vital topic.
Turn with me if you would in Matthew 6:1-4. This passage tells us the right attitude when it comes to giving. Here are the verses:
“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.
Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men.
Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.
But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.”
Let’s read and analyze each verse.
It means to pay attention, to beware, and to hold into mind. Christ wants our attention and focus it on the words He is about to speak. He said…
Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them
Here is an important principle that we must remember when doing righteous acts or charitable deeds. We must not do it before men in order to be seen by them.
Now, Christ is not saying here that it is wrong that people see us when we do good works. There are certain situations that we can’t avoid being seen by men.
What is wrong is when we do good works so that men MAY see us.
Did you see the difference?
If our primary objective is to be seen by men, that is the wrong attitude of giving. Charitable deeds are not just limited to giving money. It also includes doing other good things.
I remember when I was in high school. When we were assigned as cleaners for the day, some of my classmates will only watch the rest of us clean the room. But when our teacher comes back to the room, they will immediately move around as if they have been busy all the time.
The same thing happens to other places. Be it in our workplace, government offices, and even in the church, we see the wrong kind of giving and doing good works.
What is the consequence of having this kind of attitude, my friends?
You have no reward from your Father in heaven
When we give with the wrong motivation, our giving is in vain. This is the main reason that Christ said that we must TAKE HEED!
Christ is warning us about the wrong kind of giving and how it forfeits the meaning of our action.
Our giving must be motivated by the right attitude. When we give, it is not about ourselves, IT IS ABOUT GIVING GLORY TO GOD.
Giving is an act of worship. It is never an act of giving glory to oneself.
Therefore when you do a charitable deed
Jesus said, “Therefore.” Jesus is saying that if we give to obtain the approval of other people, we must change our attitude.
Notice the word “when.” Christ did not say “if,” but “WHEN.”
It means that God expects us to give. It is our Christian duty to be a blessing to others, rather than a burden or curse to them.
And when we give…
We should not sound a trumpet before us as the hypocrites
A hypocrite is an actor or stage-player.
A hypocrite is only there for a show. He wasn’t there because he was compassionate about the poor, want to help others, or give glory to God. He was there for others to know how “good” or “righteous” he is!
What does sounding a trumpet mean? A trumpet is used to grab people’s attention. In this case, the hypocrites wanted publicity.
We can do all these good things without being a show-off. There’s no need to advertise it to other people seek their applause.
Of course, I’m not saying that it is wrong to give credit to whom credit is due. But we must not let our own lips praise ourselves.
What do hypocrites do? We read…
They do their charitable deeds in the synagogues and in the streets
The synagogues and the streets are public places where there are a lot of people. So, these are the favorite places of the hypocrites. The more people seeing them, the better.
They may have glory from men
Here, Christ revealed their real motive. These people wanted the recognition of men.
They have their reward
Their reward, it means that it was THEIR reward for themselves. The source of reward was their selves and others. Their reward did not come from God.
After discussing the wrong attitude of giving, Christ shows us how to give the right way. He said…
But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing
This is a proverbial expression. It means that when we do charitable deeds, it must be done as secretly as possible.
Keep it private.
And when you do, what happens?
Your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly
Now, here’s why it is more blessed to give than to receive.
Do you see the contrast of the two attitudes of giving? When we give with a selfish motive, our reward is the recognition of men. However, the reward of proper giving is the recognition of God, which is way more desirable!
Would you instead have the recognition of men or the recognition of God? You choose.
Christ emphasized that the Father, Himself, will reward us openly. It will not be the people around you. It won’t be your teachers, your boss, or even the presidents of the most influential countries of this world.
The reward comes from God.
The recognition and applause of men, how loud it may be, will eventually fade.
They won’t last.
People will even forget the good things you did for them.
But God’s recognition is ETERNAL. To top it all, He never forgets. We read that in Hebrews 6:10:
“For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.”
This is what Jesus Christ has to say about the proper way of giving.
After studying Matthew 6:1-4, I hope you now have a deeper understanding of how we must give. I hope we will not be like the hypocrites who are after the recognition of men.
My friends, the message today shows us that it is possible to give without loving. But it is IMPOSSIBLE to love without giving.
Thus, let us all strive to give with the intention to love one another. Let our intention be pure and unselfish. Most importantly, let our giving be a way to worship God and glorify His name!