Why do you give to God? Because you don’t want to be a thief? That’s at least a minimally good reason to give.
Do you give to receive? That’s a slippery slope. I indeed want God’s blessings in my life and the Word promises such blessings when we give. But if my only motive for giving is to receive then of course I’ve completely missed the mark. Jesus is teaching us in today’s passage that if we intend to worship with all we are, then it needs to start with our money. In fact, we need to stop thinking of it as ours. All we have is His and all we receive is from Him.
So how should we give money to the Lord? Jesus tells us how:
“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 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. 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.” (Matthew 6:1-4)
Please understand Jesus is not saying we cannot give our gift before men; we are not to do them before men so we can be seen by men. Wiersbe reminds us that “everyone in the early church knew that Barnabas had given the income from the sale of his land. When the church members laid their money at the Apostle’s feet, it was not done in secret.”
The issue Jesus addresses is the example of the Pharisees; they would make a huge production of giving of their alms so they could receive the honor of men. Jesus said fine, you’ve got your reward. And oh what an empty reward it is. It is simply vainglory and nothing is more hollow and unsatisfying to our souls than vainglory. I love how our old friend Matthew Henry describes it:
What we do, must be done from an inward principle, that we may be approved of God, not that we may be praised of men. In these verses we are cautioned against hypocrisy in giving alms. Take heed of it. It is a subtle sin; and vainglory creeps into what we do, before we are aware. But the duty is not the less necessary and excellent for being abused by hypocrites to serve their pride. The doom Christ passes, at first may seem a promise, but it is their reward; not the reward God promises to those who do good, but the reward hypocrites promise themselves, and a poor reward it is; they did it to be seen of men, and they are seen of men. When we take least notice of our good deeds ourselves, God takes most notice of them. He will reward thee; not as a master who gives his servant what he earns, and no more, but as a Father who gives abundantly to his son who serves.
When you write out that tithe check, is it an act of obedience or an act of worship? The former is a good reason; the latter is the more excellent way to bring your tithes into the storehouse. If you’ve been giving for as long as you can remember and do so as an act of obedience, perhaps worship to you is nothing more than music.
I love music but it merely scratches the surface of heavenly worship. All we do should be for the glory of God. Many people believe that we are saved so we can go to heaven. Again, that is such a superficial understanding of salvation. We are saved for God’s glory. Stop looking at you and look to heaven. Remember, we are keeping our focus on heaven in 2011? The Apostle Paul taught that our lives were to be patterned in a manner of self-denial. Try preaching that across the churches in America! Nevertheless, it is Biblical:
“But I have used none of these things, nor have I written these things that it should be done so to me; for it would be better for me to die than that anyone should make my boasting void. For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel! For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship. What is my reward then? That when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel of Christ without charge, that I may not abuse my authority in the gospel.” (1 Corinthians 9:15-18)
My dear Lord Jesus, how much of what I do for You is actually for me? Find these vainglories within me Holy Spirit and burn them like the worthless stubble they are. May all I do come from the inward principle of loving worship to you my Glorious Father. No more of me Jesus; more of You…more than my imagination can conceive.
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Copyright © 2011 David Jeffers