Almsgiving Facts for 9-13 Year Olds

(Matthew 6:1-4)

Categories: Sermon on the Mount

  • Chapter 6 talks about the pitfalls of being righteous, doing the right thing, about those actions that can be very dangerous for our spiritual health.
  • The first thing Jesus says is, “Beware!”
  • “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.”
  • Don’t showboat your religion; don’t impress others with your faith.
  • It is right to do good works so that people think of God. It is not right to do good works so that people think of us.
  • The reason for this warning is that if we show off or brag, if we do the right thing just to be noticed by others, then we will miss out on the “reward from the Father who is in heaven” because we’re so focused on getting a “reward” from others.
  • Let’s think of this in spiritual terms.
  • This is like the blessing about being merciful and obtaining mercy. Being merciful and humble draws us nearer to God; the lack of these qualities makes us feel distant from God.
  • God’s rewards are eternal and, in comparison, all worldly rewards don’t mean much.
  • Jesus gives three examples that have to do with “prayer, charity, and fasting.”
  • These are the three major tenets of Judaism. Charity involves relations to others. Prayer involves relations to God. Fasting involves relations to ourselves.
  • Jesus is covering it all. These haven’t been mentioned before.
  • In the New Testament, the care of the needy is a very important aspect of the Jewish religion.
  • Jesus says, “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 men...”
  • Apparently, sometime during the worship service, the spiritual leader blows a trumpet, and then the generous people march forward.
  • In Greek, hypocrite it is the ordinary word for an actor in the theater. The actor plays the part assigned to him and wins applause for his performance.
  • It is the hope for applause that is pointed out here.
  • Even if the people are very generous, if they are aiming for a double reward, the human and the divine, they are misguided.
  • Jesus is saying that it doesn’t work that way: “I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.” If their motive is to get thanks or applause from other people, then that’s all they will get—thanks or applause.
  • He gives further instructions: “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.”
  • The analogy of right and left hands suggest a very close relationship. Neither hand acts independently of us.
  • He is saying that even in the closest of close relationships, do your good deeds in secret. This is to free us from having to impress others. God will notice.
  • “Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
  • The person is rewarded by the interest and the presence of the Father.
  • It is an individual experience.
  • We are to look to God alone for our reward. God will notice.