Jesus declares that even right things can be done for the wrong motives.
The fundamental principle is revealed in the word translated “beware” (ESV). This word is not only an imperative but it is present tense meaning that disciples of Jesus must continually guard against doing good deeds for the wrong reason.
When you Give to Be Seen Of Men – You Have Your Reward. (6:2-4)
“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.”
- The Wrong way to Give (v. 2)
The point—If we choose the applause of others, then that applause becomes our reward.
The ancient Christian preacher, Chrysostom, of the 1st century stated it this way. “You may do good deeds before men, and yet not seek human praise; you may do them in secret, and yet in your heart wish that they may become known to gain that praise.”
- The Right Way to Give (v. 3-4)
“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.”
When You Pray To Be Seen Of Men – You Have Your Reward. (6:5-8)
- The Wrong Way to Pray (v. 5)
It is not a sin to pray in public. It is not a sin to stand while praying. The problem comes when we pray to God while focusing on the recognition of people.
- The Right Way To Pray (v. 6-8)
Prayer is a conversation between us and God so secret praying helps eliminate distractions from a pure motive.
When you Fast to be Seen of Men – You Have Your Reward. (6:16-18)
- The Wrong Way To Fast (v. 16)
- The Right Way to Fast (v. 17-18)
When you fast do your best to keep it to yourself!
There are three questions we need to ask after reading these warnings of Jesus:
Why do I give, pray, fast?
If I practice spiritual disciplines like these to be seen by others and gain their praise then I need to repent and change my heart!
How do I check and change my motives?
Go underground…secret giving, praying, fasting will reveal and change your heart.
Is it wrong to desire rewards from God?
Two things are clear in Jesus’ instruction—
- There are earthly rewards and heavenly rewards.
- When we seek earthly rewards we lose our heavenly eternal reward.
“Jesus’ words here are absolute. Jesus is saying, ‘Anyone who does a good deed so as to be seen and appreciated by others will lose his or her reward, no matter how ‘good’ and beneficial the deed is. Absolutely no exceptions!”- R. Kent Hughes
“By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.”