Sermon on the Mount – Secret Acts Bring Open Reward

Peninsula Community Church

Sermon on the Mount – Secret Acts Bring Open Reward

May 1, 2011


Matthew 6:1-8 “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. “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. 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. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.


Jesus begins this passage with the word “Beware.” In the KJV the word used here is “take heed.” The actual word here means to “hold the mind on a matter,” take pains, take heed. Jesus is saying here to set your mind on what true and honorable righteousness is.


In verse 1 Jesus warns those of His day about practicing their righteousness before others for the purpose of being seen or recognized. The result of this action is that Jesus will not reward them for they have already received their reward by virtue of the fact that others give them praise.


As we read these passages, Matthew 6:1-18, we see a common theme. “Do not do your righteous acts before men as what you do in secret will be rewarded in the open.”


In the next few verses Jesus addresses three areas of religious activity that can lead to hypocritical motivations and of seeking another’s praise.

  1. Giving of alms – Matthew 6:1-4
  2. Prayer – Matthew 6:5-15
  3. Fasting – Matthew 6:16-18


Jesus relates how the hypocrites carry out their spiritual duties and functions and He instructs the believer on how to achieve honor and reward from God.

  1. What is the hypocrite’s attitude? Hypocrisy carries the idea of wearing a mask. It is a pretender or an actor. While the word was usually used to define an actor it was later used to define one who deceives himself or others and sometimes they deceive both at the same time. In Jesus’ time, the term hypocrisy had become associated with an outward piety that masked an inward corruption.
    1. Jesus addresses the motivation of why the hypocrites do what they do. Their motivation is to receive another’s praise.
    2. The motivation of their actions is a result of the inward mindsets and heart issues that are contrary to God’s will and His purpose.
      1. Inward emptiness – Though outwardly they appear to have everything together inwardly they are empty and dead.
      2. Pride & arrogance
      3. Lack of spiritual depth. They have to pretend to be something they are not.
      4. I have seen this worked out in several ways: One of those ways is when people want positions of power they do things so others will see them and witness their amazing ability.
  2. The Believers attitude on the other hand:
    1. The passionate follower of Christ does things for praise of God as He is the audience of one.
    2. The passionate follower of Christ does not care who gets the credit. Jesus made repeatedly and unmistakable distinctions between our face to the world and our person before God (Dallas Willard in Divine Conspiracy).
    3. In essence, passionate followers of Christ have been so transformed by their daily walk with God that good deeds naturally flow from their character. They automatically because of what they are pervasively and internally.
    4. What is being professed is that God desires us to have an audience of one which extends to all that we do and not just to deeds of devotion or charity. The Apostle Paul charges us to do all of our work whatever the situation with enthusiasm as for the Lord and not for men knowing that he is the one who rewards you and whom you serve.” And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col. 3:17). How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? (John 5:44)
  3. The reward for each:
    1. Hypocrites:
      1. Gets an immediate reward.
      2. Gets praise from men – The hypocrites want to be praised of men and that is exactly what they get – men’s praise but the praise of men can be shallow and short-lived.
    2. Believers:
      1. Their rewards come later.
      2. God rewards each according to his works
  4. Two things should be noted in this passage:
    1. The teaching here is not a call to hide our good deeds but rather it addresses the intent and the motivation for our good deeds. There is nothing inherently wrong with one’s deeds being known. The issue is that we are not seen doing good deeds but we are doing good deeds to be seen. When we do things for promised recognition as a motive instead of doing what should be done for its own sake we are preempting God’s role and will in our life.
    2. Our intent is determined by what we want and expect from our action. When we do good deeds to be seen of human beings we are looking for something that comes from human beings. God responds to our expectations accordingly. When we want human approval and esteem and do what we do for the sake of it, God courteously stands aside because, by our wish, it does not concern him. On the other hand if we live unto to God alone he responds to our expectations.
  5. The ongoing theme of this passage is that what is done in secret will be rewarded in the open.





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