Practice Righteousness Effectively: Giving
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
2 “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. 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. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
- Get the Big Picture
- The purpose of practice
Beatitudes and the correct approach to the law will make us keenly aware that we are not where we need to be in our reflection of God’s image. An image does not struggle, it just does. But we struggle. So, the goal of human life is for us to in every moment, regardless of the outward circumstances respond to every situation with the same responses as God.
We practice to get better.
We practice because we need it.
We practice because those who we respect who have come before us showed us to.
We practice because it works.
- The purpose of practicing righteousness
Practicing righteousness prepares us for the reflex of righteousness that we need. We can visualize, study, prepare scenarios etc. so that we can in the surprising opportunity of every moment, act as a priest of God and reveal God to people and bring people to God!
The big three in Jewish life were giving alms, fasting and prayer. Each of these three actions are practiced for an internal purpose in the one doing the practice! The goal of the Christian life is to be like God. That is the purpose of the practice.
The three great temptations of the world according to I John 2:
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life[c]—is not from the Father but is from the world.
The desires of the flesh: Sensual pleasure as ultimate good, fought through fasting. Fasting is representative of disciplines of abstinence. We can fast from more than food. We learn to say “no” to desire when we don’t have to so we will be in practice.
The desires of the eyes: This is greed. Greed can be applied to money, but also any desired possession. Car, house, landscaping, property, animals, stereos, computers, phones, earbuds, technology of any kind. Humans easily find personal value or esteem in what they acquire and see. This is fought through giving. And we can give lots of things.
The pride of life: Fought through prayer (it emphasizes our dependence on God and not self!) But all of these examples of Matthew 6 actually would make the pride of life worse! They are practices out of pride, to be noticed by men and for the purpose of pride. If done correctly, they will increase pride and make people worse off, not better. And that is why Jesus says in Matthew 23:
2 “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, 3 so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. 4 They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. 5 They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, 6 and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues 7 and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others. 8 But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10 Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. 11 The greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. 15 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.
16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ 17 You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? 18 And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ 19 You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it. 22 And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it.
23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!
25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.
27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
- Practicing well
- For God, not men
- Do not seek the attention of or approval from people in your giving.
- Secrecy is a spiritual discipline
- It is better to give and wrestle with doing it well than it is to not give.
- Left hand, right hand is hyperbole to prove a point. But we are to give in ways that is not like this at all.
- What is your reward?
What do you want most in your Christian life? “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
To reflect the image of God and therefore live the life of greatest purpose and meaning.
To make the church great. To make the church beautiful. To provide for the pastor’s family. (These are not good enough) They can be secondary I guess, but ultimately we are acting like God!
- The purpose of practicing giving
There will be moments of life where we need to be a giver, and in fact there are many things that we will need to give! So, we set up a regular practice of giving so we will be directed toward being a giver. Giving is costly, giving is needed, giving is open ended, and giving is commanded. Giving lets us know that God is our provider. Giving is a simple concrete expression of faith in God. Giving can be a great challenge for people. Giving makes us free. Giving makes us rich. Giving is permission to test God!
- Practicing Giving
Does God love? Are we to love like God? John 3:16 Because God loves His creation, His fallen, broken, corrupted by sinfulness creation, what does He do? He gives what is most precious to Himself to meet the need of that creation!
- We are still trying to be like God
The goal is to be a giver! We are created to be givers. Think of parent child, husband and wife etc.
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (what is the law of Christ? To love one another as He has loved you!) 3 For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. 5 For each will have to bear his own load.
- We need to be directed by God
Get the opinions and desires of others out of this!
“the moment a coin in the coffer rings, a soul from purgatory springs”
In the moment we will be called upon to be a giver as a priest of God in the life of another person. Do it!
- We need to err on the side of mercy
To be fair, this is talking about extra giving really. Giving alms to the poor. They are already giving to the temple a tithe and different gifts and sacrifices, and a temple tax. This is the extra from what is left over that goes from one to another to help to provide for them.
Remember, they are already leaving the corners of their fields and not picking up what they drop and not going back a second time. All of this allows for the poor to participate in their own provision. But some cannot.
- We need to see ourselves as givers!
First love toward God. Give your love to God which will set yourself in the right frame of reference to act in the world for His glory.
“Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done!”
Then love and compassion toward others that will cause us to give our time, energy, wisdom and money to help meet the real needs of others.