Matthew 6:1-4 “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. “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. 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. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Jesus is going to address in the coming chapter three ways that the self-righteous person practices righteousness with the wrong motive. They do it to be seen by others. It is not the practice of righteousness that is wrong, it is the motivation of the practice that is the problem. He is not telling us to stop our practice of righteousness, just stop doing it for the wrong motive.
Let me begin by mentioning that there are three ways the Christian should be practicing their righteousness: giving to the poor (v. 1-4), prayer (v. 5-15), and fasting (v. 16-18). The assumption of Jesus seems to be that all three of these practices will be done by his followers. His desire is not that the practice ceases, but merely that the motivation needs to shift. Let’s look at the first one.
I am a Pipefitter by trade. I tended towards the service side of the industry from the beginning, so my focus is not so much on the installation of equipment, but the servicing of it. Monday through Friday mornings I head out the door to put in my eight hour day. I see new equipment all the time and continually practice my trade. If there ever was season where I no longer did my work, I would soon become out of practice because the equipment changes so much with all the advancements of technology. I must practice my trade in order to benefit those who’s buildings I seek to maintain.
The Christian likewise is to practice his trade. If he ever goes through a season where he ceases from doing his work, he would stop benefiting both the recipients of his labors and the one who placed him in the trade in the first place.
The first practice the Christian is to labor towards is giving to the needy. This practice will look different for each family, depending largely on where one might live, and what resources one might have. Regardless of circumstance, the Christian must labor toward the benefit and prosperity of the needy. This is good work that all should partake in. The motivation for our work ought to be the glory of God and not for the praise of man. Jesus tells us when we give, we are to give so secretly that our left hand would not know what our right hand just did.
The thing that’s amazing in this passage is that Jesus is not discouraging the Christian from being motivated by reward. He is not telling us to give to the poor simply for the glory of God. He is telling us to give for a personal reward.
“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. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” -Matthew 6:3-4
This text is meant to encourage us. Jesus is promising us that our Father in heaven sees every time we give to the needy. He sees and will reward us in his timing. His timing might be in this life, but I am guessing is reserved for the next.
Jesus is also reminding us that our Father in heaven sees every time we see the needy and do not give. What ways can your family get back into practicing your righteousness?
Here is an image of our eldest daughter Ali in Uganda: