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Kingdom Generosity

Matthew 6:1-4 | Kingdom Generosity

Matthew 6:1-4 | Kingdom Generosity

Dear Friends, we are in the midst of a pandemic. There are job losses, inflation, and humanitarian need like never before. The believers and the church have an opportunity to show the love and generosity of God to a world that only knows giving to receive back, because they love mammon and which reduces people to Rupees, Euros, & Dollars.

Well, today I want to talk about Kingdom Generosity.

Matthew 6:1-4

1“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. 2“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites (one who wears a mask, who has double standards) do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Background

Jesus sat on a hillside on the slopes of the sea of Galilee. Jesus delivered the most amazing sermon that has ever been preached called the sermon on the mount. In Matthew 5, Jesus talks about how one can enter the kingdom of heaven and the character of the kingdom people in the beatitudes. In the next section, Jesus corrects misunderstandings about the law of God. Jesus gives his explanation regarding the law against murder, adultery, divorce, etc.

Now starting in chapter 6, we come to a section where Jesus is taking time to speak on spiritual practices or righteous deeds we do, and how we should perform them. Jesus is giving us a new way of living, a new standard of living. He is giving us a mark or standard to attain to. Jesus does that by comparing the standards with the Jews of His time.

Matthew 6:1

“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.

Greek scholars say the word “seen” in Greek is “theathEnai.”

Teathenai is the word from which the English word theatre comes. Jesus says his disciples are not to practice righteousness in such a way that it is put on display for all to see.

Be Careful What You Are Not Doing Things For Your Own Glory

Don’t do your acts of righteousness in such a way that you do it like a theatre for all to see. That is the basic principle. Then Jesus is going to illustrate that with three spiritual practices that we are to do. How we give, how we pray, and how we fast. In these things, we must be careful that we don’t do these things in such a way as we draw attention to ourselves and thus the praise of man.

Matthew 6:1 This has to be seen in parallel with Matthew 5:16:

Matthew 5:16

 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matthew 6:1

“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.

In Matthew 5 Jesus says let your light shine before others. In Matthew 6, Jesus says, “Do not practice your righteousness in front of others.”

So how do the two match up? The key is this: We are to do good deeds, we have to practice righteousness, but Jesus says, “Practice your righteousness or do your good deeds in such a way that our Father gets the glory and you don’t take any applause for it.”

Jesus has been dealing with the subject that we are to be doing more than the Pharisees. We are to be loving those that hate us, blessing those that curse us, doing good to those who despitefully use us that we might be the children of the Father. Now Jesus says, that when you do these things, you have to do them in such a way that it does not bring glory or attention to you but it brings glory and attention to the Father.

Matthew 6:1

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.

The Kingdom Of God Is About Reality, Not Image.

God cares about what we really are, and really not the image we project.

Oh! How this teaching has to be emphasized and in the day and the age in which we live. We live in a world that is looking for platform, popularity, identity, and image. People are trying to be seen and receive glory from men, the applause of men. So people start manipulating the crowd to get that sort of applause from them.

Shakespeare wrote, “All the world is a stage, and all the men and women are really players.”

How true this is. Have we fallen prey to this image-crazy world? The world is so phony. I like what the kids say, “Be real.” The world is so phony. We are living in a dark work. The darkness is all around us. But then our light shines in this darkness that when seeing our good works, they glorify their Father in heaven.

It is hard to find a Nathaniel in the world today. When Jesus met Nathaniel, he said: John 1:47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”

Through Jesus, we can overcome the deceit of Jacob who was the first Israelite, a deceiver, and become a person of no deceit. No duplicity, no putting on. Children of God have to be real, not actors.

Remember, our good works cannot always be done in secret. Much of what we do for the Lord is done publicly. But when it is done publicly, we should seek to do it in such a way as it brings people’s attention and focus on the Lord and not on us.

Question

Why Am I giving, to show people or giving unto the Lord?

Am I praying so that people will applaud me or am I praying to the Lord?

Or Am I fasting to show off or am I fasting in secret?

Jesus said: Matthew 6:1 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.

If I do things for the praise of men, then the praise of men is my reward. I will not receive any reward from the Father. I receive all the rewards right here by the fact that people recognize me.

Do Not Serve God For Recognition

I have heard people say, “Pastor, I am serving for so many years and no one said even a thank you.” It is not bad to appreciate a good minister or a team member, but if the thank you becomes a motive of service, then there is something wrong. You are doing service for recognition.

Now Jesus touches on Giving to the needy. Today, we will look at giving, the heart of generosity or Kingdom Generosity.

Matthew 6:2-4

2“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. 3But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

There are a lot of acts of righteousness that God calls his followers to follow. We are going to look at three in Matthew 6. Jesus starts here with the subject of giving.

Jesus says, “When you give, not if you give.” It has been assumed in the Bible that God’s people will be givers. It is something that many people don’t understand for a long time as they begin to follow the Lord Jesus Christ. Sometimes somebody’s wallet or the checkbook is the last thing that comes under the lordship of Jesus Christ. But God wants us to know that it all belongs to Him and we should be giving people.

Giving is a fundamental behavior and act of righteousness for a follower of Jesus.

Jesus is speaking especially here about giving to the poor, through the ministry of the temple. As we go further in the NT, we see that giving took place through local churches as the church ministered to the areas where they lived and to other areas outside of their own.

What Jesus is talking about is giving, giving money. Financial help. In the Jewish mind of that day, it was understood that a righteous person gives.

William Barkley “To give alms and to be righteous were one and the same thing.”

William Barkley once went to Jerusalem and there was a beggar on the street and a pastor was going to pass by the beggar. The pastor politely refused him and walked by when he was stopped by an orthodox Jew. He had the hat and the hair. The Jewish man was very angry with the pastor’s friend. He was very annoyed and this is what he did. Without looking at the beggar at all, he took out a lot of notes from his pocket and stuffed them in the beggar’s plate and he looked at the visitor with a lot of anger in his eyes. The message was very clear, “This is what a righteous man does.” A righteous man gives.

Jesus said, “Right, a righteous man gives but how they give is very important.”

We are called to give and share our resources in the Kingdom of God. Kingdom people share their money and material things.

The Kingdom Of God Is About Generosity

God rules and reigns over a generous kingdom and if you are really Jesus’ disciples, you will be generous.

Believers of Jesus Christ practice generosity.

I want to give you two stories of generosity from the Scripture. One from OT and one from NT.

Open your Bibles to 1 Chronicle 29. This is a story from the flag season of David’s life before he died. The Israelites come of out slavery from Egypt and come into the Promised Land. David and his son Solomon were the first two kings who unite all the tribes of Israel from the United Kingdom of Israel. Up to this point, the presence of God in their midst had been in the form of a tent, called the tabernacle. This was the place where the cloud of YAHWEH’s presence dwelt and the priests would mediate God’s presence to his people.

David’s desire and his heartbeat in the last years of his life was to make a place for YAHWEH’s presence to dwell in a permanent place, called the temple. They have set up Jerusalem as the capital city of the tribes and David’s heart is for God’s people to meet God in the physical permanent structure, the temple.

So, in Chronicles, there is all this work that David does to get the raw materials ready and the last moment is the story that we are going to read right now. This is a remarkable story of something that happened in David’s own heart and in the hearts of the people.

1 Chronicle 29:1-2

 1Then King David said to the whole assembly: “My son Solomon, the one whom God has chosen, is young and inexperienced. The task is great because this palatial structure is not for man but for the Lord God. 2With all the resources I have provided for the temple of my God—gold for the goldwork, silver for the silver, bronze for the bronze, iron for the iron and wood for the wood, as well as onyx for the settings, turquoise, stones of various colors, and all kinds of fine stone and marble—all of these in large quantities.

These were all symbols to recreate the experience of a man going back to paradise in the garden. So, in the temple, there were gold and jewels and all these wonderful carvings of 200 pomegranates trees engraved on the pillars, and above them were lilies (Jeremiah 52:22-23). This was an amazing structure. David said he was working to get all these materials until now. But now he does something personal.

1 Chronicle 29:3-5a

 3Besides, in my devotion to the temple of my God I now give my personal treasures of gold and silver for the temple of my God, over and above everything I have provided for this holy temple: (Here is the list) 4three thousand talents of gold (the gold of Ophir) and seven thousand talents of refined silver, for the overlaying of the walls of the buildings, 5for the gold work and the silverwork, and for all the work to be done by the craftsmen.

David makes this huge generous donation. This is tons and tons of gold and silver. This is an enormous amount of wealth. Now you might be thinking, David is rich, David is a king, he is filthy rich. No matter how rich you are, if you are going to take 3000 talents of gold out of your savings is not a simple thing. This is a big move on David’s part and it comes out of a deep passion for God. This really costs him something.

1 Chronicles 29:5b-9

5bNow, who is willing to consecrate themselves to the Lord today?” 6Then the leaders of families, the officers of the tribes of Israel, the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds, and the officials in charge of the king’s work gave willingly. 7They gave toward the work on the temple of God five thousand talents and ten thousand darics of gold, ten thousand talents of silver, eighteen thousand talents of bronze, and a hundred thousand talents of iron. 8Anyone who had precious stones gave them to the treasury of the temple of the Lord in the custody of Jehiel the Gershonite. 9The people rejoiced at the willing response of their leaders, for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the Lord. David the king also rejoiced greatly.

David’s Generosity

This is a remarkable thing in David’s life and he is going to die very shortly. David is so generous so that God’s people can congregate at a very beautiful place for God’s people to meet with the presence of God. His example as a leader inspires this huge generosity on the parts of the leaders and the people. This is all voluntary giving, generous giving.

I am taking a scenario where we find generosity in the OT but I want you to see the heart behind the giving. I want to focus on is what follows. We can see the motivation behind David’s huge generosity. What motivates acts of huge generosity?

If you look at the prayer of David what follows we can see his heart. Over the years, David has had a deep heart transformation. We need to see how David views himself, views other people, and views God. This generosity is way bigger than giving to the church, it is about our lives. Let us read this prayer and see David’s perspective behind his giving:

1 Chronicle 29:10-19

David’s Prayer

10 David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly, saying, “Praise be to you, Lord,

the God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. 11Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power

and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours.

Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.

12Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power

to exalt and give strength to all. 13Now, our God, we give you thanks and praise your glorious name.

In David’s view of the world, to whom does everything belong?

He has a firm conviction that everything in heaven and on earth belongs to the God of Israel. David believes that his own wealth that David has worked hard to earn, is not his and it does not belong to him. It has come to him as a gift. David sees that even strength and power to produce wealth comes from God.

14“But who am I, (He is the greatest king in the ancient world. Even after 3000 years, we are still talking about him. No one will remember us even after 50 years of our death. David had a heart change. He sees all the status and the opportunity that he has been given as simply a gift and he is humbled to be given a chance to be generous in the life of his people. David says, “Who am I.”) and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.

15We are foreigners and strangers in your sight, as were all our ancestors. Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope.

God is pleased with a heart of Integrity

16Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple for your Holy Name comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you.

17I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you.

18Lord, the God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, keep these desires and thoughts in the hearts (keep our hearts with humility and generosity) of your people forever, and keep their hearts loyal to you.

19And give my son Solomon the wholehearted devotion to keep your commands, statutes, and decrees and to do everything to build the palatial structure for which I have provided.”

Whatever is in the heart of Biblical generosity is displayed here in this prayer

Whatever is in the heart of Biblical generosity is displayed here in this prayer. We need to adapt to this view. If we can put our hearts and minds to this kind of view, generosity is something that just begins to happen. We are not talking about giving to the church. This is how we view our resources, our time, and money in relation to our friends, the needy, the city that God has placed us in, and the community and our church community. It is about how I view it as a privilege to give to the needs of others.

The heart of this is the paradox: David views everything that he has is something he has received. That is the key to unlocking this generosity here. It is to see everything that I have as a gift I received.

Coming to the NT, I want to present to you two chapters that are some of the powerful chapters that explore the relationship between the gospel and generosity.

2 Corinthians 8 & 9. This is the story of the generosity of early Christians, the Macedonian believers which Paul links to the generosity of Jesus.

Generosity of Christ

2 Corinthians 8:9

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake, he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

He is retelling the story of the gospel where sin has ruined man spiritually and morally. What is God’s response to that? It is lavish generosity and grace. Grace and generosity are the kinds of things God’s people do who have understood the grace and generosity given to us by Jesus. We get to an understanding that we have been given so much grace and generosity and everything we have is a gift of God, that will affect how we deal with our time, how we deal with people, and how we deal with money.

All of us are growing in the area of discipleship and it is my prayer that we will grow also in the area of gospel generosity.

The generosity of Macedonian Believers

2 Corinthians 8:1-5

1And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy, and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 3For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, 4they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. 5And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us.

Philippians 4:14-18

 14Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. 15Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; 16for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need. 17Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account.

Philippians 4:19

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

Paul calls this giving a partnership:  Philippians 1:5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 

God rules and reigns over a generous kingdom and if you are really Jesus’ disciples, you will be generous.

Coming back,

Matthew 6:3-4

 3But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

When you give to the needy do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Be careful that you do not become legalistic about this. It is talking about not bragging about it. Not talking to others about it.

In the Acts of the Apostles, we are told that people were very generous.

Acts 4:32

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.

Acts 4:34-36

 34that there were no needy persons among them. From time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need. 36Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), 37sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.

This is documented here. That means Barnabas did not do it in secret. He did not do it for the purpose of recognition but he did not do it in secret.

Then in Acts 5, Ananias and Sapphira saw what happened with Barnabas. They decided to sell their land and keep some money to themselves and also give it to the church. But when they brought it to the church, they lied that the whole money has been given to the church. Nobody asked them. It was their own initiative. what they wanted was part of the money for themselves, and also the credit that they have given the full amount to the church.

They were caught off in the whole thing of doing something for the recognition of people and wanted applause from the people. Their hearts wanted recognition and applause from people. You know what happened, both fell down dead in the presence of God.

So others knowing when you give is not the problem. But the problem here is bragging about what you give so that you get the praise of men.

Generosity Will Be Richly Rewarded By God

Matthew 6:3-4

 3But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Reward

Matthew 16:27

For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

Matthew 10:40-42

 40“Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”

Revelation 22:12

“Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give it to each person according to what they have done.

Jesus is coming back and he is going to reward us.

2 Corinthians 5:10

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

The judgment seat of Christ is the judge’s seat in the Olympics. It is where a person who has run the race and who has won the race comes before the judges to receive his medal, the recognition. Jesus is the judge. We are running the race and one day by the grace of God I hope to finish the race and I plan to win the race. I run to win the reward from Jesus.

As I stand before him, all of my works are going to be judged with fire. Those works which are done with the wrong motivation, and to draw attention to myself and cause people to praise me will go up in smoke. There will be no reward for those things because they are rewarded already in the praise you receive from men. God is going to look at the motivation. What motivated me to do the things I did.

1 Corinthians 3:8

The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor.

Take Away Points

The Kingdom of God Is About Reality, Not Image.

Kingdom Is About God’s Glory, Not My Own.

The Kingdom Is God Is Really About Generosity.

Kingdom Generosity Will Be Richly Rewarded.

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