TEXT: Matthew 6:1-4
“Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. 2 When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. 3 But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. 4 Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
Most people have the illusion that the sermon on the mount is not practical but nothing could be further from the truth. The sermon on the mount is Jesus teachings about daily spiritual disciplines that anyone can practice if they commit their life to Christ and have a desire to please Him. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus does not command us to do miracles, heal the sick or raise the dead. He teaches us to prayer, spend time alone with the Father in secret, love others, do good deeds, to give, etc. The only thing required on our part is obedience.
Today, we renew this series that we began some time ago and we resume with Matthew chapter 6:1-4.
You know my love for stewardship and the text does lend itself to the subject of giving and the proper way to give but I have decided to deal more with the motive than the giving itself. I call your attention to verse 2 where Jesus said, “Don’t do like the hypocrites do.” They gave but not the right way or with the right motive.
What is a hypocrite and what motivates them?
The word hypocrite originally referred to a an actor, stage player, a dissembler, pretender. In the Roman/Greek culture, acting was not a popular trade. People who went on stage were not treated with celebrity status in those days: matter of fact, they were not even popular and very few people entered the profession for that reason. To overcome this problem of have so few people to play the various parts, some were forced to play more than one part. They did this by using a different mask. When you think about it, some aspects of acting have not changed: actors today work to deceive the audience. Silvester Stallone played Rambo, a Viet Nam vet who suffered from post combat syndrome. In real life, Silvester was a draft dodger. Just watching the movies, you would think he was Rambo but he was anything but.
Jesus called the Pharisees, Scribes and Jewish religious leaders hypocrites. That seems to be a bit cruel: why did Jesus call them play actors, pretenders and dissemblers?
Four characteristics of a hypocrite
- HYPOCRITES PLAY TO THE AUDIENCE. They are performers. They are more concerned about “Doing” than “Being”; more concerned about performance than purity. Hypocrites are actors on a stage. Jesus is more concerned with the heart than the hand: motive is everything to HIM. The love of Christ should constrain [controls] us. A true disciple plays to the audience of one. We want to please others but our first obligation is to please the LORD Jesus Christ who is our Savior and our LORD. I would be dishonest if I told you that I do not care what people thing about me. I care but I cannot be preoccupied with or motivated by what they think. Are you worried about what people think about you? It is an hypocritical trait. Paul told the Corinthians in his second epistle…Our only goal is to always please the Lord, whether we are living here in this body or there with him. 10 We must all stand before Christ to be judged. Everyone will get what they should. They will be paid for whatever they did—good or bad—when they lived in this earthly body.11 We know what it means to fear the Lord, so we try to help people accept the truth. God knows what we really are, and I hope that in your hearts you know us too. 12 We are not trying to prove ourselves to you again. But we are telling you about ourselves. We are giving you reasons to be proud of us. Then you will have an answer for those who are proud about what can be seen. They don’t care about what is in a person’s heart. 13 If we are crazy, it is for God. If we have our right mind, it is for you. 14 The love of Christ controls us.
- HYPOCRITES ARE NEVER WHAT THEY PRETEND TO BE: they are not integrated. Their heart and their actions are miles a part. They do good deeds but they do them to be praised by men. They do not give alms to the poor because they love the poor or because they love Jesus. They give because they love praise. This means that they are duplicitous. They have a hidden agenda. This is crystal clear in the N.T. Matthew, Mark and Luke all tell the story of Jesus healing the man with a withered hand. Jesus did it on the sabbath in the synagogue with some Pharisees present. When Jesus healed the man, they did not speak openly in protest: that would have made them look cold and cruel but they did leave the synagogue mad and they had a secret meeting and began to plan how they might kill Jesus. Again in Matthew 22, Jesus is teaching at the Temple in Jerusalem and He tells the story about the King whose son was about to be wed. The Pharisees heard the story but they did not say anything openly in protest. They left the place where Jesus was teaching and made plans to catch Jesus saying something wrong. Chapter 21 of Matthew ends with these words… When the leading priests and Pharisees heard this parable, they realized he was telling the story against them—they were the wicked farmers. They wanted to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowds, who considered Jesus to be a prophet. Did you catch that: they wanted to arrest HIM but they were afraid of what the people would think. They even acknowledge that Jesus has INTEGRITY which they lack…[Matthew 22:15-17] Then the Pharisees met together to plot how to trap Jesus into saying something for which he could be arrested. 16 They sent some of their disciples, along with the supporters of Herod, to meet with him. “Teacher,” they said, “we know how honest you are. You teach the way of God truthfully. You are impartial and don’t play favorites. 17 Now tell us what you think about this: Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” Did you catch that: they knew that Jesus was ‘Honest’ which is another word for integrity. He had something they didn’t have and they confess it. Jesus was perfectly integrated: His heart was at one with everything He did or said. Jesus had no guile. He was not duplicitous. He did not say one thing and believe another. Hypocrites are pretenders: if they were to be honest, they would give themselves away so in order to protect their precious reputations, they hide their motives. They carry a hidden agenda. Beware of the hidden agenda.
- HYPOCRITES DEMAND ATTENTION: Hypocrites love the stage, they enjoy being in the spot light and the center of the stage. They make some things very obvious, so obvious that it is difficult to miss. They demand and get more attention than Jesus. What have you been talking about this week? What are you excited about? The right answer is Jesus but that is not who most people are talking about–they love to talk about the hypocrites in the church. Now every organization has hypocrites but for some reason, those in church seem to get the most attention. Jesus said, “Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness. Don’t get the idea that the Scribes and Pharisees were sloppy…they were they opposite…they were polished…flawless in their performance and extremely proud of their flawlessness but their heart was bad. Listen to me folks, all churches have hypocrites and they love the stage but we can’t put the spot light on them, we have to put the spot light on Jesus.
- HYPOCRITES ARE NITPICKERS–FLAW FINDERS–FRUIT INSPECTORS. Why talk about what’s wrong with us when we can talk about what’s right with Jesus. Do you know what a nit is? It is the egg of the lice. Nit picking is an extremely laborious and tedious process which takes a lot of time and thorough examination. Am I flawed? Yes and I am afraid it shows. Is the church I pastor flawed? Sure it is–all churches have flaws. Could I sit down and make a list of all the things that are wrong with DBC? I could but it is not necessary, I have a unappointed committee of nay-sayers and nit-pickers who are constantly reminding me of our faults. I do declare, these folks get very excited when they spot a flaw. If we were as intense about sharing Christ as we are ripping and tearing at His body the church, we would see a world of difference. We are not focused on Jesus. We prefer to talk about what is wrong with church leaders and members than we do to talk about what is right with Jesus. This is a sad and true statement: very sad and very true.
- I want you to make a concentrated effort to focus on Jesus this week.
- I want you to pray for all our church leaders
- I want to challenge you to ask God to give you the opportunity and the courage to talk to one person this week about “What’s right with Jesus.”
- Always remember, the motive [heart] is always important to Jesus.