Monday, 11 February 2013

Matthew 6:1-4 - "Acts of Righteousness"


Matthew 6:1-4 
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“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
 “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 others. Truly I tell you, 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. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."

After reading Matthew 5 yesterday, I thought I'd put my study of Romans on hold for a day or two and look briefly at Matthew 6 and 7 as well. There are so many challenges and applications here! Read the chapters yourself and apply them - we cannot keep God's perfect standard and we need Christ, but this is what (as Christians) we need to be aiming for. I'm thinking that when I don't have any comments on Romans I may return to these for short posts. So here's the first in a possible series:

It's pretty straight forward. We are called to do good, to help others, to give to the poor. In Australia, and in other developed nations) we have so much. In Australia we waste about 4 million tonnes of food a year, throwing out 20% of what we have. That's just one example, there are endless lists of other statistics of what we waste - yet there are people starving in the world! What are we doing? How is this honouring to God? We need to get our lives in check!

But thats not the only point of the passage - we are called not only to help the poor, but to do it subtly. Do it so no one notices. Do it so that no one can praise you for it. This is something I really struggle with - when I help people out, I love to get their thanks, and I love it when other people see or hear about it and tell me I've done a good job. Pride is one of the biggest struggles I have - and I think its the same for most people. Yet we are called to help people for God's glory, not our own. Maybe that means anonymous donations to charity? Maybe that means serving at church in ways that people wont notice - before people get there. Maybe it means helping someone out who you hardly know or who doesn't really seem to appreciate it - and doing it in a way that your other friends (and maybe the person themselves) don't see it or realise it.

But theres a promise: "Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." God reward his people, he rewards us for working for him. If we do it for ourselves, so that other people praise us, we get no reward. But if we do it for God (which is the true definition of good works) then he does reward us. Usually that reward isn't on earth - it isn't money or praise here. It's worth much more then that (see vv 19-24). It's an eternal reward, treasure in heaven. We aren;t saved because we help the poor, we are saved because of Jesus. But if we are truly christians, we will obey Christ and therefore do good/help the poor, and God rewards us for that - not because we deserve reward (we are sinful and deserve only his wrath) but because he is gracious, loving and merciful, compassionate. Trust God and work for him, not self!

So, what needs to change in your life? How can you be serving God better? How can you be serving God humbly? Are you going to change, or take the easy option and be lazy?

"Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven....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."

Note: Check out this website for some stats on food wastage in Australia. It's pretty eye-opening/sickening.
https://www.lunchalot.com/foodwaste.php

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