The Height of Hypocrisy
Text: Matthew 6 : 1 - 18
When God is missing from the picture, men can descend to abysmally low levels, even in religious practices. Jesus brought this out when He spoke these words.
“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.”
Jesus was not exaggerating when He described how hypocrites sought to draw attention to themselves each time they gave to the poor. Imagine the blowing of trumpets to herald their almsgiving. The generosity of the givers was highly applauded and glory (“praise”) was given to these “philanthropists”.
A TOTALLY DIFFERENT APPROACH
Should one give up on the idea of giving just because some have abused the privilege of providing for the poor? Of course not! Jesus offered a totally different approach to correct the erroneous practice that prevailed in Israel then.
“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 us take time to ponder deeply what Jesus taught.
1. Every Encouragement to practise almsgiving
Jesus endorsed the concept of doing charitable deeds. This concept may be traced all the way back to Mosaic teaching! It was a sound Biblical concept.
2. Giving is to be done in secret
Jesus knew that when people give, especially when a substantial amount is involved, there is the natural human tendency to desire recognition and appreciation for the charitable deed done. This inclination must not be indulged in. It would lead to some form of corruption before too long.
The challenge of giving was to practise the art of giving “in secret”. Just how secret should the act of giving be? Jesus coined a new aphorism. It is worth repeating this phrase.
“Do not let your left hand know what your
right hand is doing.”
Technically speaking, this would be next to impossible. But the point of what Jesus said couldn’t be clearer. When one plans to give, one should not broadcast it, for the purpose of gaining self-glory! The praise of men should not be the reward sought for. There is a reward that God has reserved for those who truly care for the poor.
SPECIAL PROMISES FROM GOD
What did Jesus have in mind when He spoke about how God would reward the true philanthropist openly? We are surely reminded of a psalm that David wrote.
“Blessed is he who considers the poor;
The Lord will deliver him in time of trouble.
The Lord will preserve him and keep him alive,
And he will be blessed on the earth;
You will not deliver him to the will of his enemies.
The Lord will strengthen him on his bed of illness;
You will sustain him on his sickbed.”
The reward that God will give to those who are mindful of the poor is far greater than the accolades of men. Let us enumerate some of these blessings:-
1. The promise of deliverance from trouble.
2. The promise of preservation.
3. The promise of strength.
4. The promise of sustenance in times of illness.
These are great and precious promises indeed! These promises should give disciples the impetus needed to cultivate the discipline of giving “in secret”.
THE DANGER OF FORGETTING GOD
How does one fight the terrible evil that threatens to corrupt something as good and noble as giving? When a person becomes wealthy enough to give substantially, it would be wise to recall these words written by Moses.
“Beware that you do not forget the Lord your
God… lest- when you have eaten and are full,
and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them…
when your heart is lifted up, and you forget
the Lord your God…”
Part of the problem that causes people to desire personal glory is the forgetting of God’s hand of blessing. May we never forget God’s blessings upon our lives.