Matthew 6:1-4 Sermon – Generosity and Hidden Righteousness

In this sermon Tim continues our series on What Jesus Taught by looking at a confronting part of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus challenges his followers to give in secret so we can earn a reward in heaven, rather than seeking the approval and glory of those around us. How will you practice hidden righteousness and generosity this week?

Sermon preached by Tim Giovanelli on Sunday March 27, 2022.

18/09/22 – 2 Timothy 1:6-7 Spirit of Love – by Tim Giovanelli – God's Empowering Presence Series Manly Life Church Podcast

In this sermon Tim continues to unpack 2 Timothy 1:6-7 after Lani preached on it last week, encouraging us to step into the Spirit's love, power and self-control in our lives as we consider where and how God might use us to serve his Church! SERMON NOTES click here: https://manlylife.org/2022/09/20/2-timothy-16-7-sermon-spirit-of-self-control/ For more information about Manly Life check out our website: http://www.manlylife.org You can also find us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ManlyLifeChurch Sermon preached by Tim Giovanelli on Sunday September 18, 2022.
  1. 18/09/22 – 2 Timothy 1:6-7 Spirit of Love – by Tim Giovanelli – God's Empowering Presence Series
  2. 11/09/22 – 2 Timothy 1:6 Spirit of Power & Love – by Lani Daniel – God's Empowering Presence Series
  3. 04/09/22 – Luke 3:16 Fire of the Spirit – by Victoria Giovanelli – God's Empowering Presence Series
  4. 28/08/22 – Surrender to the Spirit – by Kirrily Smeallie – God's Empowering Presence Series
  5. 21/08/22 – 1 Corin 6:19-20 – Temples Of Spirit – Tim Giovanelli – God's Empowering Presence Series

SERMON NOTES:

Talk on generosity… reminds me of the story of the $5 note and the $100 note…

  • They hadn’t seen each other in ages and then by chance they bumped into each other in a wallet. 
  • Time of my life… fancy resorts, amazing restaurants, the casino. I even went to Coco Republic new store in Balgowlah…
  • Same old place… church, church, church…
  • Oldie but a goodie…

Alright… well we are doing a series on what did Jesus teach?

  • I’ve been loving preparing these sermons… though to be honest it’s pretty confronting and challenging stuff.
  • And yet it is amazing too. Jesus is preaching to save us from our sins…
  • Obvioulsy he does that on the cross…
  • But he is also interested in saving us from our sins and the consequences of our sin in this life.
  • Which is why today, he continues to go after the inner motives and desires of our lives, in order to set us free!

Matthew 6:1-4

 “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 do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Well this passage really offends my sensibilities…

  • If I give… I want full credit… haha! Maybe a brick with my name on it… or a wing named in my honour…
  • If I do a good deed, I really think it is in the public interest that I post about it on Facebook. Help an old lady… stop! Do you mind if I take a selfie with you!
  • When I am generous, I like my left hand, right hand, feet, knees, torso and head to all know about it!
  • So come on Jesus, what is this all about? 
  • Stop putting the knife in to Tim Giovanelli and his self righteous displays…

Well, Jesus is takin us deeper and deeper into the inner condition of our lives…

  • Deeper into the kingdom of heaven he is bringing into the earth.
  • Jesus is explaining what it looks like to live in the subversive, counter cultural kingdom of God. 

Talk about 3 things today.

  1. This is about our relationship with our Father
  2. Generosity as a child of God is assumed
  3. Jesus warns us against about our motives for giving and desires to be recognized.

So firstly, this is about our relationship with our Father in Heaven.

Have you noticed in the sermon on the mount how often Jesus refers to God as Father?

  • Matt 5:16 We shine our light to glorify our Father in heaven
  • Matt 5:45 we love our enemies that we may be children of our Father in heaven
  • And then so much of chapter 6 which is on generosity, prayer and fasting is about our Father seeing what is done in secret and rewarding us. 
  • And when we pray (Matt 6:9) it is to our Father who is in Heaven.

Put simply, as we come to know Jesus and what Jesus taught, there is no way to understand him except by his relationship to his Father.

  • Sometimes Jesus uses the Greek word for Father which is Pater
  • And other times he uses his native Aramaic tongue and the more intimate word for Father ‘Abba.”
  • In Luke 2 Jesus wanders off to the temple and says to his mother “did you not know I had to be in my Father’s house.”
  • We also regularly hear that Jesus slips away in the morning to pray and be with his Father.
  • In John’s gospel he says “I only do what I see the Father doing.”
  • On the cross he will utter the words “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Jesus lives for, and with and in his Father. He knows God to be Father.

  • And for some who have had difficult experiences of their own Fathers or being a Dad, this can be tricky.
  • But Jesus wants to (if we will allow) to reshape our ideas around God as Father and even in time may reshape what it means for us to be parents. 
  • And if you need to understand how Jesus understood God as Father, of course we must go to the story of the prodigal son…
  • The amazing story where Jesus describing God’s attitude to the lost, explains God as a Father who runs to his wayward son and celebrates his homecoming.
  • This child of mine who was dead is alive, who was lost, is found. He kisses and embraces his Son.

Now why is this all important?

  • Well firstly Jesus wants us to experience God as a loving Father
  • And he wants our lives to be centered around pleasing our heavenly Father who knows and sees everything, and will reward our righteousness. 
  • So much of the Christian faith and journey is about coming to be a child of God… 
  • And the way that this transforms our desires and minds and hearts
  • As we begin to take on the family likeness… and enjoy the same kind of intimacy with our heavenly Father as Jesus did. 

Secondly, generosity as a child of God is assumed.

Jesus does not say when you fast, or when you pray, or when you give…

  • But instead “when you give to the needy”
  • To be a Christian and not to give to the work of the church and the needy would be like a cricketer who doesn’t own a bat
  • Or an accountant who doesn’t have a calculator
  • Or a social media influencer who doesn’t have an Instagram account…

Right? It is assumed… that if you are a child of God, a defining mark of your life will be generosity. 

Why is it assumed by Jesus? Well remember that Jesus comes into a story of a family that are blessed by God in order that all nations on earth will be blessed.

  • When he spent time in the temple being with his Father, I assume part of that was reading the wisdom of the Proverbs. 
  • This was after all the child raising manual of the people of God. He would have assumed generosity because he would have been steeped in their story and wisdom.

Proverbs 3:9-10 “Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce. Then he will fill your barns with grain, and your vats will overflow with good wine.”

Proverbs 28:27 “Whoever gives to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to poverty will be cursed.”

Proverbs 11:24 “Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything.”

(let me read those three passages again… and there are many many more…)

Jesus assumes generosity, because Jesus knows what is required of the children of God!

One of the things that we must be so aware of living in a place like the Northern Beaches of Sydney is that we always compare ourselves to people who are better off… 

  • Or we find ourselves with little spare money because we have stretched ourselves with debt to breaking point
  • The result is that we become stingy and never get around to being generous!
  • What a shame because God calls us to honour him and the poor with our wealth!
  • And let me assure you – if you live anywhere near here, renting or owning… you are amongst the wealthiest in the world!

So we need to cultivate generosity… and this for many takes a move of God in our hearts and an obedience to the Word of God. 

  • But it commands a blessing! A reward from our heavenly Father.
  • And I am mindful in light of todays passage not to talk about our generosity publicly…
  • But I know it took me too many years to really start giving generously to the local church and the poor.
  • But for several years now, Victoria and I have been very intentional about giving and it is now something we love to do!

So if you play cricket, it assumed that you own a bat… if you are a child of God, it is assumed that your heart has been turned outwards in generosity!

  • Stingy Christian is an oxymoron. 
  • And one of the great signs that you are truly converted to Christ is you give, give and give…
  • So much of the Christian life is aligning with Matthew 10:8 where Jesus says freely you have received, now freely give…
  • Out of gratitude, out of the blessings of life and provision and our salvation… we just start to be a blessing!
  • God you have forgiven me, so now I will learn to forgive others
  • God you have saved me, so I will tell others of your salvation
  • God you have provided for me, and so out of gratitude and thankfulness I will provide and give to others!

Have you met people like this?  People converted to generosity?

  • There is a U2 song called Magnificent where Bono sings “only love can leave such a mark.”
  • Well our generosity is an expression of our love for God and love for each other. And generosity leaves a mark.
  • When I was at bible college we would go to the pub for drinks and dinner once a week… 
  • One time, a Christian overheard that we were bible college students and paid the bill anonymously for the whole table…
  • That left a mark on me…
  • I want to be that kind of Jesus follower! What about you? Will you start? Not next year, or next month, but right now? 
  • Honour the Lord and his work… and give generously to the poor…

Finally, Jesus warns us against our motives for giving and deisres to be recognized.

(Lets hear it again) Matthew 6:1-4

“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 do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Well, it should come as no great surprise that Jesus warns us against practicing our righteousness in front of others to be seen by them

  • After all, he is deeply concerned with the inner condition of our lives. 
  • We’ve already seen this the last few weeks. 
  • It is not just about external conformity to the law when it comes to murder or marriage or our enemies…
  • Jesus wants to heal the broken conditions of our inner lives… our anger, ourt lusts, our desire for revenge. 

And so beware he says in the next section… of practicing your righteousness in front of others…

  • The hypocrits do this, and they have received their reward in full. 
  • And so deeper and deeper into our hearts Jesus goes.
  • Deeper into our motives and desires to be seen and known as good. 
  • So what is Jesus doing here?

Well it appears that Jesus is saying that the coming Kingdom of heaven 

  • That he is bringing to earth can be blocked in our lives by our desire to be approved of by others for being devout. 
  • Hypocrits, he says, announce their giving to the needy with trumpets to be honoured by others. 
  • Be on guard. 

On our righteousness, AB Bruce, the Scottish 19th centure theologian said;

  • “show when you are tempted to hide, and hide when you are tempted to show.”
  • Isnt that good?
  • So show when you are tempted to hide?

Jesus has of course in this same sermon called us to be the light of the world, a city on a hill that cannot be hidden.

  • Clearly there are visible acts of righteousness that Jesus desires for us to exhibit before the world. 
  • Matthew 5:16 says “let your light shone before others that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
  • But this seems to relate more to our character, our acts of mercy and kindness, our treatment of enemies and our desire to be peacemakers.

But then we are told to hide what we are tempted to show…

  • Parading our generosity with trumpets…
  • Praying publicly with lots of flowery words and self impoiratnce
  • Fasting where everyone will notice just how serious and self denying we have been.
  • “show when you are tempted to hide, hide when we are tempted to show…”
  • Hide when the motive is to display how good we are. 
  • This seems to be, not so much the privitatsation of piety, but the purification of motive. 
  • For whose eyes do we give, and pray and fast?

How liberating is this? Dying to the need for approval from others… we become so secure in our relationship with our Heavenly Father

  • That we begin to live generously for an audience of one!
  • Amen?
  • We all have a desire to be noticed and affirmed and to receive positive attention. 
  • Let your reward be from your heavenly Father… and your giving done in secret.

This phrase Jesus uses “received their reward in full” is a business term from ancient days.

  • It means receiving full payment. 
  • If I give to get applause and recognition from others, Jesus says, you’ve received full payment already. 
  • What room is their for God to reward you? You’ve got what you wanted… 
  • Now move along…

But oh to get the reward from your heavenly Father. And what is this reward?

  • Well surely it is the relationship that Jesus enjoyed with God. 
  • “This is my son, with whom I am well pleased.”
  • The reward is to be drawn alongside your Father in heaven and to enjoy his presence, his delight, his blessing! 

Well let’s finish and let me ask you 3 questions.

  • How much do you give away? 
  • What is the edge of your life that is involved with the poor?
  • How can you safeguard against hypocrisy and the need for approval from others?

How much do you give away? 

  • The average household income on the Northern Beaches is $120,000
  • Some of you will earn a lot less than that. Some of you will earn a lot, lot more. 
  • Do you give 10% away? That would be $12,000 a year?
  • Do you give 20% away? That would be $24,000 a year?
  • Do you give 2% away? That sadly is the average of what people give. That would be just $2,400.  
  • I’d just encourage you to think through what you actually give away and are you being generous?

Secondly, What is the edge of your life that is involved with the poor and giving to the needy?

  • That is afterall what Jesus is talking about here in this passage. 
  • And I’d simply say, every Christian should have an edge in their lives involved in serving and giving to the needy.

Finally, How can you safeguard against hypocrisy and the need for approval from others?

  • I’d simply suggest, get to know your heavenly Father… the one who runs to the prodigal and embraces him.
  • Be so secure in your relationship with your Heavenly Father that you too can die to needing the approval of others. 
  • And start to give, give, give, for the audience of one!
  • Amen?

Published by timgiovanelli

My wife Victoria and I are planting a new church in Manly, NSW

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