We have reached a milestone in this series called camping with Jesus. Last week we finished chapter Matthew chapter 5. This is the 12th message in this series - it took 11 sermons to get through chapter 5. I am optimistic that we might go faster as we continue.
Today’s message is called. “Secret Service”.
We are going to look at what seems like a very simple and easy to apply passage from the sermon on the mount. But I want to help you see it a little deeper than I expect most of us tend to see this passage.
So lets go to Matthew chapter 6
Matthew 6:1–4 (ESV)
Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
2 “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. 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. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
On the surface it seems very straight forward and like we can just move on. But I also think it very easy to miss the heart of what Jesus is talking about here.
So lets unpack this a bit.
Talk to the hand?
In verse 3 Jesus says
“do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing…”
This is known as Hyperbole or exaggeration for affect.
Jesus is not suggestion you literally tell one hand something you don’t tell your other hand. Right? I mean if you are talking to your hands - we might have a different problem.
Obviously your hands - don’t know anything. Either one of them.
So what does Jesus mean by this.
He is simply making the point that your acts of righteousness (verse 1) should not be done confidentially.
Does confidentially mean that NOBODY Knows? Not necessarily, but it does mean that not everybody knows. It means we don’t deliberately tell people to impress them.
Praised by Others
Now, I want to focus on verse 2. And show you what I believe to be the heart of what Jesus is getting at.
Matthew 6:2 (ESV)
…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.
That is the heart of it.
“That they may be praised by others.”
The praise of others can be a powerful temptation for any one of us.
Proverbs 27:21 (ESV)
The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and a man is tested by his praise.
Think about what this means.
According to Google: Silver melts at 1763, Gold melts at 1948 degrees. That is pretty hot. Smelting is the process which metals are refined for purity. It done through both heat and pressure.
Do you know what does to raw metal - it brings out the worst in the metal those imperfections and DROSS rise to the top.
That is what praise is. It is heat and pressure that will bring out the worst in you. It will make you someone you don’t mean to be.
Jesus is saying don’t give and perform acts of righteousness in order to to get praise from other people.
That praise will bring out the worst in you.
It is not just that someone praises a good deed that you do. That is not what brings out the worst in you. It is when we start doing things - that we would not do otherwise - just to get that praise.
It can become an addiction for us if we let it. And it has for many.
We can become addicted to attention or addicted to Praise.
If you are the type to post your life on social media play by play… You might addicted to attention. You can’t wait to see how many likes you get from this post or that post.
According to TrueList.com
- More than 210 million people worldwide suffer from addiction to social media.
- Not being on social media causes the fear of missing out in 34% of young adults.
- A massive 43% of teenagers feel bad if no one likes their post.
- More stats reveal that 43% of teens delete their posts because they didn’t get the number of likes they were aiming for
- Another 43% feel absolutely devastated because no one likes their posts.
The addiction is not to social media - it is an addiction to praise.
Social media has created a way for nearly every person to get much more attention than would have been possible before.
We need to break free from the addiction of praise.
And pursue the attention of God.
Getting God's Attention
Let me close with this: At the end of verse 4…
Matthew 6:4 (ESV)
And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Have you ever wished you could get God’s attention? Have you ever thought - you didn’t have it?
Did you know this passage right here tells you how to not only get God’s attention but a reward from him?
Verse one says if we practice our acts of righteousness for others to see we will have no from our Father in heaven.
Verse two says the hypocrites who sound a trumpet and make a big show of giving… they have already received all the reward they will ever get.
But when you practice righteousness and give without the need for attention or a big show and you do it in secret. Your father in heaven will see it and reward you.
- Do good things. Be salt and light.
- Find a need and meet a need.
- Pay somebody’s bill.
- Do really nice things for people and keep it a secret.
- Secret Service.
What can you do for someone this week?
What can you do that you will get no recognition or praise for?
“And your Father who sees in secret will reward you”