Thursday, June 30, 2011

Jesus' Sermon: Intention of the Law on Giving

The first of Jesus' three examples on hypocritical religion concerned
(A) Giving:
“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." (Matthew 6:2)
To the Pharisees giving money was the most sacred of all religious acts. In fact the Jews used the same word, tzedakah, for both “righteousness” and “almsgiving.”

Trumpeters at the temple would announce when someone was about to pour a large sum of money into the money box, like a tithe, or in response to a religious vow. This was the signal for people to admire and build that person up for making such a magnificent offering. “Wow, that person must really love God, what a sacrifice, how awesome and holy they are!”

+ Why do you give what you give, and how big of a deal do you make out of it?

+ Do you find a way of working it into the conversation?

+ Is it a matter of pride that you give what you do?

+ What would happen if nobody acknowledged what you gave?

Let’s say even the person you gave to, or the institution you gave to, never said thank you to you.

What do you really love:
The good feeling inside when people admire you and approve of you and give you big thank-yous?

..........Or the satisfaction and joy of pleasing God?

It’s not wrong to be thanked and admired, in fact that’s a good thing, to thank people. But Jesus says if that’s what you really love, all the attention, then you’ve already gotten everything you’re going to get out of your religious donations.

God has nothing for you.

You’ve already been paid in full.

God calls us to take care of people in need,
* To give material gifts, like money and food and clothes and a place to stay, stuff like that;

* And to give spiritually, like the gospel, wise counsel, comfort, forgiveness and love, things like that.

* And to give emotionally, like friendship, time in relationship, to mourn and also rejoice with others.

But if you and I are just looking for strokes and admiration, there will be no treasure stored in heaven for us on that account.

If you look for status among people, you will get it, but you won’t have any status with God. You will actually be robbed of deep communion with God, and all the blessing of contentment, joy and spiritual power that being full of God’s Spirit brings, even though the gift you give might actually help someone.
"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. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." (Matthew 6:3-4)
The secret is what’s going on in your heart. Not all giving is done anonymously, and that’s alright. If you read about the early church in Acts, everybody knew who gave what.

But the person Who counts is God. He reads what’s in your heart, and He will reward your love to Him as He is glorified in what you do, and as you grow spiritually.

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