“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.  So 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 others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.  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. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:1-4 NIV). 

Did you notice that Jesus doesn’t say, “if you give to the poor.”  Jesus clearly states, “when you give.”  Jesus is asserting that being a disciple, a follower of him, means that you are supposed to give to those who are in need.  We are called to financial responsibility, to give to those who are in need.  That is why we give to the mission of the church.  Our money (which actually comes from God to begin with) is to be used by God through the bride of Christ, the Church, for God’s mission in our world.

Next, Jesus says that we’re not to announce our giving to others.  This is what the hypocrites do.  In those days, people would make it known that they were giving to the poor.  They would look for recognition that they were following the law.  Do we flaunt our giving today?  If not giving, what other acts of righteousness do we do that we like to tell others about?

We need to let our light shine for others to see our good deeds and worship our God in heaven, but what is our intention behind letting these good deeds be seen?  Do we do it so that others will see Christ in us and worship God with us?  Or do we have other intentions in mind?

Jesus calls the people who give and make it known to others that they are giving for the purpose of self-righteousness hypocrites.  This word came from actors in a play who would wear a mask, changing their outward appearances to look like someone else.  Jesus points out that those who give in such a way to impress others look like great Christ followers, but have the wrong intentions in their heart.  God can’t be fooled by outward appearances because He knows the intention in our hearts.  For this reason, it would be better for you to give in secret than to give to look like a good Christian, to look like you have it all together.

What are your motives behind acts of righteousness?

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