THE GIVING OF ALMS
The Lord Jesus Christ constantly warned his disciples to be aware of and to studiously avoid hypocrisy in all acts of worship and service in the name of God. Hypocrisy, the leaven of the Pharisees, is the leaven of outward religion. If it reins in us, it will ruin us. So we are warned to “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees” (Matt. 16:6). Hypocrisy is religion that is only skin deep, a religion of works, words and show, a religion that is void of grace, heart, and spirit. Hypocrisy is a form of godliness, an outward show of religion and religious activity, without the life and power of God in the soul.
In Matthew 6:1-18, our Lord specifically identifies three areas of religious activity which are easily perverted into mere acts of religious showmanship, three areas where hypocrisy is commonly seen: the giving of alms, the matter of prayer, and the practice of fasting. These were prominent religious activities among the Jews of our Lord’s day. In fact, wherever people practice religion of any kind, it is most natural to make these three things prominent. All religions encourage them to one degree or another, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity. Man naturally associates these things with religion. It is assumed that in the practice of them we serve God with our whole being: in alms giving with our estates, in prayer with our souls, and in fasting with our bodies. While encouraging the practice of outward piety, in this chapter, our Lord gives us a much needed and commonly ignored warning - In all our acts of worship, service and devotion to God, we must avoid seeking to be seen of men, and seek only to be seen of and to glorify the Lord our God.
For now, let’s focus on the giving of alms. In Matthew 6:1-4, the Son of God says, "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."
All that is said in these verses may be applied to all Christian giving; but the specific subject is alms giving, charity giving, giving to the poor. Without question, this kind of giving is prescribed by the law of God written upon the hearts of all men by nature, the law given by the pen of Moses, and by the grace of God experienced in the soul. Wherever grace and righteousness is established in the heart, charity flows generously from the hand (Psa. 112:5,9). That which is given to the poor is said by God to be their due (Prov. 3:27-28). Almsgiving is the essence of what James describes as the practice of pure, undefiled religion (James 1:27). Those who profess to be the followers of Christ should, above all other people, be charitable, generous, giving people. Give to the poor. Give to the cause of Christ. Give to the church of God. And give to the servants of God. In all our giving, let us give as unto the Lord. A giving God is worthy of a giving people (II Cor. 8:7-9). I make this promise to you, as you exercise generosity for the glory of Christ and the good of your fellowmen - You will never impoverish yourself by generosity! Do not give by the force of legal constraint. And do not give from a spirit of covetousness, hoping to get more. But God will never allow a generous soul to lack the means to be generous (Prov. 3:9-10, 11:24-25; 19:17; 28:27; Mal. 3:10-12; Lk. 6:38; Phil. 4:19). Let every child of God give according to his own means, “as God hath prospered him” (I Cor. 16:2). Two words of warning: (1.) Do not be stingy (II Cor. 9:6-8). (2.) Do not do anything in a public show (Matt. 6:1-4). Be as quiet and unobservable as possible in giving.
Grace Baptist Church of Danville - Grace For Today Radio Message #618
2734 Old Stanford Road - Danville, Kentucky 40422-9438
Donald S. Fortner, Pastor -Telephone 606-236-8235 - Email firstname.lastname@example.org