Praise the Lord, and greetings in the precious name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, once again we are entering into a new week, and therefor we begin our new study, “Living Authentically”, so lets get right to it!
Matthew 6:4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:
4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.
9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
16 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;
18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.
Jesus calls us to live a life of authenticity.
The Case Against Hypocrisy
Nobody likes a hypocrite. Some individuals even use hypocrisy as an excuse to leave the church and backslide. Why would people want to spend eternity with those whom they cannot even bear to spend a few minutes with every week?
North Americans’ distaste for hypocrisy has driven many individuals to become disillusioned regarding politics. They feel they become educated about national concerns, develop their ideology, research the positions of politicians, and vote for the ones who would best represent them. Then the elected representative forgets all his promises and compromises what he once claimed to believe, abandoning those who elected him to political office.
In contrast to what may sometimes exist among inconsistent legislators or churchgoers, Jesus taught us to be real—to be authentic. We must not live for show or pretense, but live as individuals changed by the power of Jesus Christ
- OLD COVENANT TRADITIONS
- IDENTIFYING THE HUMAN BONDAGE—HYPOCRISY
- Hypocritical Almsgiving
- Hypocritical and Heathen Prayer
- Hypocritical Fasting
III. THE TRANSFORMING INITIATIVE—MAINTAIN
- RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM WHO SEES IN SECRET
- Right Attitude
B, Sincerity and Humility
Contemplating the Topic
In 1988 Nike began an ad campaign that has lasted more than a quarter century. Nike used an eighty-year-old runner, Walt Stack, to get everyone to “Just do it!” After all, if he could run seventeen miles every day, then the rest of us should be able to “Just do it” also.
Jesus’ kingdom teaching and relationship with the disciples confronted the “Just do it” approach to spiritual practices. God’s covenant with humanity has always been about a restored relationship rather than just a behavioral checklist. Jesus calls His followers to an authentic relationship with Him that cannot be mimicked by just acting as if we are good people.
The Sermon on the Mount advanced the principles of the old covenant by fulfilling the promise to write on the hearts of His people (Jeremiah 31:33). In fact, all the Law is summed up in the call to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves (Luke 10:26–28).
As we continue to study Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 6, we should anticipate both comfort and challenge. God’s gracious work in our lives calls us to celebrate the relationship that exists and convicts us of areas where we need to mature. This process should continue to transform us into the image of Christ (Romans 12:2) throughout our lives.
Searching the Scriptures
- OLD COVENANT TRADITIONS
God gave the old covenant as a wonderful gift to the Israelites. The God who first called their father Abraham into a relationship with Him so “all families of the earth [shall] be blessed” (Genesis 12:3), called ex-slaves into a special relationship with Him. God called Israel to witness to the world so others would see the blessings of following the true God. God’s grace was freely offered, but it was conditionally received. If they followed God’s commands, then they would be blessed. If they did not obey, then a curse would be their inheritance (Deuteronomy 11:27–28).
“He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment. Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 10:18–19).
One marker of being the covenant people would be caring for the poor. Long before a descendant of Abraham could lay claim to a wheat field in Canaan’s Promised Land, God gave the Israelites guidelines for caring for less fortunate people. They were to leave the corners of the field unharvested to sustain those in need (Leviticus 19:10). Every three years farmers would celebrate God’s bountiful provision by dedicating a tithe back to God by sharing the tithe with the poor, landless Levites, strangers, and servants in need. As a result the Lord would bless them. (See Deuteronomy 14:28–29.)
Giving alms was a part of being in a relationship with God because everything the people owned came from heavenly storehouses. Others may give alms as an obligation, but God invited Israel to give from the heart.
Authentic relationships always include some type of conversation. God’s covenant with Abraham and Israel began with God taking the first step in Genesis 12:1–3. The Lord’s invitation of covenant included the effort to restore communication as seen between the first humans and the Creator. Sin broke the open conversation between God and humanity by introducing shame, fear, and blame. Reconciling the relationship required reopening the channel of communication.
Jehovah called Israel to a life of prayer and faith. Prayer would have an effect, but it would not manipulate God. Prayers with sacrifices acknowledged God’s sovereignty and provision; they did not force God to protect them or continue blessing them.
On the other hand, Israel’s neighbors believed prayer rituals could force their gods to guarantee the fertility of crops, cattle, and wives. False prayer is belief in manipulation of gods and spirits in an effort to force longed-for outcomes in the material world.
God used multiple ways to teach Israel of His care and her dependence on Him. Sacrifices, offerings, tithes, care for the poor, and prayer worked together to illustrate God’s offering of authentic relationship with His people, and by extension, His desire for relationship with all humanity.
Jesus expected His disciples to know when to rejoice and when to mourn. As the preacher said in Ecclesiastes 3:4, we have “a time to mourn, and a time to dance.”
The Law also called for a national holiday when Israel was to fast. The Day of Atonement was God’s gift of a national fast day when everyone considered God’s gracious provision of a covering for sin. Fasting provided a time to reflect on ways God’s people had fallen short of His commands and to seek divine forgiveness for those sins.
In the Book of Isaiah, the Lord corrected Israel’s fasting practices. Israel had begun to view fasting as a way to control God. The people wanted to keep their oppressive, evil ways while fasting in sackcloth. Yet they felt betrayed when God refused to approve that kind of fast (Isaiah 58:3–5). If they wanted to live in the favor of Jehovah’s atonement, then they would have to include setting captives free, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and making the marginalized feel at home (Isaiah 58:6–7). If they returned to that kind of fast, then light, health, righteousness, and the glory of the Lord would be theirs.
This will conclude part 1 of our Study ” Authentically Living”, on Thursday we will pick up our study at #2 Identifying The Human Bondage-Hypocrisy, until then have a great rest of the week.