February 10

Text: Matthew 6:1-4

 "Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.  When therefore you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.  But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will repay you. (NASB)

Just as there are common acts expected of righteous people now, there were common acts expected of righteous people in Israel then—alms giving, prayer, and fasting.  Note Jesus did not condemn alms giving as an unrighteous act.  Note the focus is on the motive of the giver, not the need of the asker.

Alms giving (individual benevolence) enabled those who could not work to contribute to their upkeep.  It was an honorable/responsible way to allow the able bodied to help poor families who cared for disabled family members.  To respond to the disabled's requests for help was considered religiously responsible!  Alms giving was a responsible way to show caring and compassion!

Note two things about Jesus’ statements.  First, do not use legitimate needs to call attention to self.  Second, God sees secret acts and responds.  God has no need for human witnesses to inform Him about human acts.  Even when no human knows what is done for good, God knows.

The issue is the motive of the person who gives—not the good done through the act.  The righteous person has such confidence in God that he/she needs no human witnesses to validate his/her deeds.  The righteous person cares about the person helped and God—the righteous person is motivated by compassion and godliness.  He/she is moved by need, not by a desire for human praise.  Such confidence in God is easier affirmed than trusted!  Have the faith that trusts God’s sight!

Suggestion for reflection: Consider what motivates you to respond to needs.  (Read Hebrews 4:12, 13.)

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