Chapter 1.
How Can You Be Broke When You're Paid in Full?

Matthew 6:1-4

As the curtain opens on the Matthew 6 section of the Sermon of the Mount, we are confronted with the issue of our motives for our actions and our rewards for service from God or from men. To the Jewish people, there were three great deeds of a spiritual life, three great pillars on which the good life was based—almsgiving, asking in prayer, and the abstinence of fasting. Jesus directs His focus on these areas, not that these things are bad. No, these are great things to do. The Lord, however, had a problem of the performance of these right actions with the wrong motives. This is what He targets in this first section of Matthew 6. He sets His scope on our motives and purpose for service. What is the reason behind the spiritual work we do? Are we glorifying God or are we seeking the praise of people? The Bible clearly indicates that God is concerned about what is going on in our hearts.

Proverbs 4:23—Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

The Sermon on the Mount exposes the condition of the heart of the believer. We will see that when good things are done with the sole intention of bringing glory to the doer, they lose by far the most important part of their value. The reward for those deeds is squandered.

If people are not careful, they may be generous, pray, or fast for the wrong reasons, and thus, lose the blessings connected with those activities by exalting themselves. This is what the Lord wants us to avoid. He reveals our wretchedness in order to show our need for depending upon Him and His grace. He wants us to be blessed and used of God in a wonderful way.

Spiritual growth and victories, however, require discernment and caution. Satan loves to push us off our mountain tops. When you start growing spiritually and render great service to Christ with your life, it is very easy to start doing your acts of righteousness before men in order to be seen by them and covet their praise. Your motive for service can get distorted and leave you proud, cocky, and depleted of blessings. For these reasons, Jesus shows us in the first four verses How You Can be Broke When You're Paid in Full.


Jesus begins this section with words of caution... "take heed." Jesus is not fooling around here. He is dead serious. Grammatically, these words are in the imperative mood in the Greek which means that this is a command, not a request or suggestion. God doesn't give us commands to pass the time of day or for His enjoyment. They are given for good reasons.

"Take heed" is derived from the Greek word prosecho {pros-ekh'-o} which means "grasp and pay attention, beware, guard yourself, be addicted to or devote your thoughts." Jesus wants us to listen up and take every possible precaution to guard against this sin of giving with the wrong motives. We are not to do this once in a while. No, the present Greek tense is used which means we are to be continually and constantly taking heed about our motives in giving. We are not to drop our guard in this matter. We are to pay attention today and pay attention tomorrow concerning our motives for giving.

What are alms? What is Jesus talking about? The word "alms" speaks of giving charity to those who are poor and needy. The word "alms" is defined as "mercy or pity" and is spoken of as a donation to the poor. True almsgiving involves compassion and mercy. The Greek word, eleemosune {el-eh-ay-mos-oo'-nay} which is here rendered "alms," is derived from a Greek root word, eleos, which signifies "to have compassion or to be merciful." To the Jew almsgiving was the most sacred of all religious duties. How sacred it was may be seen from the fact that the Jews used the same word tsedaqah both for righteousness and almsgiving. Both of these words were linked together. To give alms and to be righteous were one and the same thing. To give alms was to gain merit in the sight of God, and was even to win atonement and forgiveness for past sins according to the Jews.

Jesus is not speaking here about offerings for the church or for missionaries. Giving alms is not part of your tithes and offerings for the Lord's work, so we do not have a lesson on tithes and offering here. An alm is charity for those who are truly poor and needy.

Charity for the poor involves not only compassion and mercy, but it requires wisdom and discernment too. Our charity should not destroy the character of another or develop laziness. Our giving should not make them dependent upon us to the point they expect us to give or even demand us to give to them. This can happen, believe me I have seen this in my lifetime. Healthy people who are very capable of working, but won't, need to go without a meal or two and get motivated to get off their couch.

2 Thessalonians 3:10—For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.

The Lord is concerned about our motives. The motive of an act goes far to settle its essential moral quality. Giving just to be seen and praised of men is denounced very clearly here by the Lord. Let us be clear that the Lord is not condemning giving before men but giving to be seen by men—that is, to be seen so you can be praised by men. A lot of this kind of giving goes on today. People have a variety of motives for giving.

1. Duty—

A man may give from a sense of duty. He may give not because he wants to give, but because he feels that giving is a duty which he cannot escape. He may feel compelled to help others and that it is his responsibility.

2. Desire—

A man may give out of a desire to be acknowledged and praised. He may give to get to himself the glory associated with giving. He gives "to be seen." This phrase is from the Greek word theaomai which means "to be noticed." It forms our English word "theater." It has in mind a spectacle to be gazed at. In other words, Jesus is warning about practicing a form of righteousness whose purpose is to show off before men. Such religion is like a play; it is not real life, but acting. It does not demonstrate what is in the minds and hearts of the actors, but is simply a performance designed to make a certain impression on those who are watching.

How sad to go through life not being yourself, but always on a quest to make an impression on people who really don't care and easily forget what we have done. If you want to impress someone, then impress God. Robert Baker said, "As I grow older, I care less what people think about me and more what God thinks of me. I expect to be with Him much longer than with you." That's good advice. Worry about what the Lord thinks instead of what men think. Paul tried to teach us this truth.

1 Thessalonians 2:4—But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.

Galatians 1:10—For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

Ephesians 6:6—Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;

Some folks will not give unless they are recognized. They want their deed to be seen. Recognition is important because they seek power and influence and it gives them a sense of importance and value. They want their name on a plate or perhaps a building to which they have donated millions of dollars. These types of givers want everyone to know what they have given. If no one knows about their giving, or, if there is no publicity attached to it, they will not give at all. Giving is done, not to the glory of God, but to the glory of themselves. They give, not primarily to help the poor, but to gratify their own sense of power and prestige. Their attitude is "Look at what I did. Look at me" They may be paid in praise, but still broke.

3. Delight—

Some individuals give because of the delight and joy they receive in giving to others. They love to help people. They may give simply because the overflowing love and kindness in their hearts will allow them to do nothing else. Jesus was an example to us in how to give and invest our lives in other people.

2 Corinthians 8:9—For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.

The Lord does not forbid us to give alms before men always, but only forbids our doing it to be seen of them, for the purpose of self-glory, and to seek men's praises which makes us proud. To a person who is inclined to do good from a right motive and heart, it matters little whether his deed be in public or in private. Sometimes his deed will be public, but it may not be intentional. The only thing that matters is that the Lord is glorified. This is why the Lord denounces giving with the wrong motives because it does not glorify the Lord. It glorifies men.

God is very concerned about His glory and deserves our praise. Men who seek to glorify themselves instead of God will not receive any reward from God. Let that sink in a minute. No reward! No matter how big your gift is, you lose, and what you lose is heavenly reward. What a waste! Maclaren said, "What a poor thing it is which they seek—the praise of men, a breath, as unsubstantial and short-lived as the blast of trumpet."

How foolish to thirst for sips of men's praise that cannot quench the thirst of satisfaction. Wait a minute, you will not only lose heavenly reward, you may also lose virtue and character when you seek the praise of men. Seeking the praise of men can be corrupting, because many times, in order to gain the praise of men, you have to lower yourself to the standards and vices of men.

For example, two brothers had terrorized a small town for decades. They were unfaithful to their wives, abusive to their children, and dishonest in business. They were scoundrels. The younger brother died unexpectedly. The surviving brother went to the pastor of the local church. "I'd like you to conduct my brother's funeral," he said, "but it's important to me that during the service, you tell everyone my brother was a saint." "But he was far from that," the pastor countered. The wealthy brother pulled out his checkbook. "Preacher, I'm prepared to give $100,000 to your church. All I'm asking is that you publicly state that my brother was a saint."

Well, what's this pastor going to do? The money was a motivation to compromise in order to gain the approval and gift of the brother. Here is what happened. On the day of the funeral, the pastor began his eulogy this way, "Everyone here knows that the deceased was a wicked man, a womanizer, and a drunk. He terrorized his employees and cheated on his taxes." Then he paused. "But as evil and sinful as this man was, compared to his older brother, he was a saint!" God gave the pastor wisdom to turn the tables on the surviving deceptive brother. Beloved, God wants us to beware about seeking the approval of men for it can lead to traps and detrimental compromises. Solomon gave us a warning about this.

Proverbs 29:25—The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.

Seeking the praise of men leaves you empty, it has no endurance, it eradicates character. You can be paid in full with what you want, but still be broke and empty. Let me ask, "Why do you give? What are your motives? Are you glorifying God with your life and deeds? God gives us several insights about glorifying Him and about our motives. Let's note the insights about glorifying the Lord first.

Glorifying God

1. Whatever we do should glorify God, not ourselves.

1 Corinthians 10:31—Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

Jonathan Edwards said, "Resolved: that all men should live for the glory of God. Resolved second: That whether others do or not, I will." Is it any wonder why God did use him?

Galatians 5:26—Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

2. Glorifying yourself can bring embarrassment and judgment.

Alice Grayson was to bake a cake for the Baptist Church ladies' group bake sale, but she forgot to do it until the last minute. She remembered it the morning of the bake sale and after rummaging through her cabinets she found a dusty, old, angel food cake mix in the back of her kitchen cabinet and quickly made it while drying her hair, dressing, and helping her son pack up for Scout camp.

Unfortunately, when Alice took the cake from the oven, the center had dropped flat and the cake was horribly disfigured. She said, "Oh dear, there's no time to bake another cake." This cake was so important to Alice because she wanted to fit in at her new church, and in her new community of new friends. So, being inventive and not wanting anyone to think she was not the perfect woman able to handle all things at all times, or that, God forbid, she was not participating in her church's bazaar, she looked around the house for something to build up the center of the sunken cake.

Alas, Alice found what she needed in the bathroom—a roll of toilet paper. She plunked it in the center of the cake and then covered it with lots of icing. Not only did the finished product look beautiful, it looked perfect! Before she left the house to drop the cake by the church and head for work, Alice awakened her daughter Amanda. She gave her some money and specific instructions to be at the bake sale the minute it opened at 9:30, buy that cake, and then bring it home. When the daughter arrived at the sale, she found that the attractive, perfect cake had already been sold! Uh, Oh! Now what?

Amanda grabbed her cell phone and called her mom. Alice was horrified and was beside herself. Everyone would know what she did and what would they think? "Oh, my!" she wailed. "I will be ostracized, talked about, and ridiculed. I will have to move again!" All night Alice lay awake in bed thinking about people pointing their fingers at her and talking about her behind her back.

The next day, Alice promised herself that she would try not to think about the cake and she would attend a fancy luncheon/bridal shower at the home of a friend of a friend and try to have a good time. Alice did not really want to attend because the hostess was a snob who more than once had looked down her nose at the fact that Alice was a single parent and not from the founding families of their town. Having already RSVP'd, however, she could not think of a believable excuse to stay home.

The meal was elegant, the company was definitely upper crust old South—and to Alice's horror, the CAKE she had made with the toilet roll was presented for dessert. Alice felt the blood drain from her body when she saw THE CAKE. She started to get out of her chair to rush to tell her hostess all about it, but before she could get to her feet, the Mayor's wife said, "What a beautiful cake!" Alice, who was still stunned and trying to formulate what words she would use to explain the situation, sat back in her chair when she heard the hostess, who was a prominent church member say, "Thank you, I baked it myself." Alice smiled and thought to herself, "There is a God! There IS a GOD!!!" Beloved, beware of glorifying yourself or robbing God of His glory. Lucifer and Herod found this out the hard way.

Isaiah 14:12-15—How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! [13] For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: [14] I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. [15] Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.

Acts 12:23—And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.

Matthew 23:12—And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

Proverbs 16:18—Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

Daniel 5:20—But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him:

Nebuchadnezzar lost the glory he craved.

3. We are to shine for Christ and glorify Him.

Matthew 5:16—Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

4. We are to glorify God in our body and spirit. Our body and spirit are affected by our motives. When we set out to truly glorify the Lord with our life, He will exalt us in His time. The recognition and praise that men seek is found in glorifying God, not themselves. His praise is not temporary, but eternal. Unfortunately, many folks, including some Christians, adopt the philosophy of Paul Simon of Simon and Garfunkle. He wrote the following words which depict an attitude of isolation and unconcern for others:

Don't talk of love, I've heard the word before;

It's sleeping in my memory of feelings that have died.

I have no need of friendship, friendship causes pain.

If I never loved, I never would have cried.

I am a rock; I am an island.

I have my books and my poetry to protect me.

Shielded in my armor,

Hiding in my room,

Deep within my womb,

I touch no one and no one touches me.

I am a rock; I am an island.

Maybe Paul Simon's struggle can be summed up in the little word "I." This is the problem with many folks. Beloved, our life does not belong to us, but to the Lord. May we use our life to glorify the Lord and touch the lives of others. We are not to live in a shell.

1 Corinthians 6:20—For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.

A gem dealer was strolling the aisles at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show when he noticed a blue-violet stone, the size and shape of a potato. He looked it over, then, as calmly as possible, asked the vendor, "You want $15 for this?" The seller, realizing the rock wasn't as pretty as others in the bin, lowered the price to $10. The stone has since been certified as a 1,905-carat natural star sapphire, about 800 carats larger than the largest stone of its kind. It was appraised at $2.28 million. It took a lover of stones to recognize the sapphire's worth. It took the Lover of Souls to recognize the true value of ordinary-looking people like us. We belong to the Lord. He saw value in us and knows our potential. For this reason, we should bring honor and glory to Him for anything we accomplish. Without Him, we can do nothing.

Your Motives

What are the motives of your heart? Why do you do what you do? This is the concern of the probing eye of God. Our Lord knows that our motives are the catalyst of our choices. Our decisions, actions, words, and responses are influenced by the roots of the motives of our heart. This is why God's choice for leadership was Moses, not Aaron. He saw weakness and jealousy in Aaron's heart. God rejected David's brother Eliab for the throne for He saw something wrong in his heart.

1 Samuel 16:7—But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.

The challenge of Christ for us is to keep our motives right and to shun anything that will rob God of the glory that belongs only to Him. As a pastor, do you seek God's glory in the ministry or the glory of other preachers or denominational leaders? Who are you really trying to impress? I mention this because many preachers get caught in pastoral politics. They scratch the back of other preachers or leaders to get big meetings, speaking engagements, or recommendations to pastor larger churches. I never cease to be amazed at the worship of preachers among preachers. Men seem to be exalted more than the Lord Jesus Christ in some circles that I have observed. I don't get it. Brethren, let's get back to exalting the Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior, the man who died on the cross. Remember Him? Let's do this in all things, in all meetings, instead of magnifying men with big churches or national ministries. As my father would say, "They put their pants on the same way you do." They are no better than you. If you are faithful to Christ and glorify Him, you are just as important as the guy with a big ministry. God is looking at your motives and will reward you when you honor Him. The Bible reveals several insights about our motives that we should note.

1. Our Motives will be Revealed.

1 Corinthians 4:5—Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.

Ecclesiastes 12:14—For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

Romans 2:16—In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.

Hebrews 4:13—Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

2. Our Motives can be kept Right. Seek to please the Lord and glorify Him with your life, not yourself. The priority of Jesus' life was to glorify God the Father.

Philippians 2:5-8... Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: [6] Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: [7] But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: [8] And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Matthew 6:33—But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

It was William Carey, the founder of modern missions, who said, "Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God."

John 4:34—Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.

John 17:4—I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.

Acts 20:24—But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

Philippians 3:13-14—Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Someone printed these words under a tranquil scene on a calendar: "Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday." We do spend a lot of time worrying about tomorrow. We may spend so much time worrying about tomorrow that we miss the opportunities of today. God wants us to not be distracted by failures or victories of the past, but to use the opportunities of today to honor Him. The purpose of our lives in glorifying the Lord will help us to keep our motives right and our life on track.

3. Our Motives may be Refuted or Resisted.

Job 1:9-11—Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? [10] Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. [11] But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.

Job refuted this challenge by his response to his trials. The motives of his heart surfaced in the actions of his life. We are to live our lives in such a way, that when we are falsely accused or our motives are refuted, our life will speak louder than the slander of our critics. Notice what Peter said.

1 Peter 3:16—Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.

You are to keep our conscience clear so that if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to the Lord Jesus Christ.


The Lord continues to explain to us why a person can be broke when they are paid in full. He continues to give us instructions on what not to do when we are giving to the poor, by directing our attention to the giving of hypocrites. In essence, He is saying, "Don't do what these guys do." What did they do? Jesus explained that the hypocrites sounded a trumpet in the synagogues or streets when they were giving to the poor. What is this all about? Let's look at the meaning of the sound of trumpets and the meaning of the word "hypocrite."

The wrong way to give is to blow your own horn, which is precisely what Jesus was saying if He was using symbolic language. There is old evidence that during this period, the Jewish priests blew trumpets in the Temple when they collected funds for some special need. This phrase "sound a trumpet" may also be a reference to the thirteen trumpet-shaped collection chests in the Temple that noisily announced contributions that people tossed into them. Men who wanted glory from their giving would throw their coins down into these trumpet chests in order to make a lot of noise and be noticed.

We must note, however, that Jesus mentioned the synagogues and streets, not the Temple. It is most likely Jesus referred to the blowing of trumpets in the streets that announced fasts that included almsgiving. It is very likely that this was literally practiced among the Pharisees, who seemed to live on public praise, and were excessively self-righteous and vain.

It is interesting to note that there is a custom in the East similar to this. The derveeshes carry horns with them, which they frequently blow, when any thing is given to them, in honor of the donor. It is not impossible that some of the poor Jews who begged alms might have been furnished with some kind of horn, like the Persian derveeshes, who were a sort of religious beggar. These hypocrites might have been inclined to confine their charitable giving to those that they knew would pay them this honor. A. T. Robertson pointed out that a missionary told him that in India the Hindu priests did indeed sound a literal trumpet in order to get a crowd when they were about to give alms or do some other religious deed.

The word "hypocrite" is derived from the Greek word hupokrites {hoop-ok-ree-tace'}. It means to be an actor or pretender, playing the part of another. It was used of actors who acted out parts in plays on the stage. Such play acting was seen during times of mourning. In New Testament times some people made their living as professional mourners, who were paid to weep, wail, and tear their garments at funerals and on other occasions of sadness. It is said that some mourners were careful to tear their clothing at a seam, so that the material could easily be sewn back together for the next "mourning" opportunity. Both the professional mourners and those who hired them were hypocrites, hiring and being hired to put on a display of mourning that was entirely fake.

This word "hypocrite" accurately describes professional mourners, but also those who do their almsgiving or any other deed for the praise of men. They want more praise than their deeds merit. Hypocrites are acting the part of another, for they are trying to act the part of one who has done a great deal more than they are actually doing. Furthermore, in their almsgiving, they are acting the part of one who is concerned about the poor, but in reality they are not interested in the poor at all. Instead, they are interested only in the praise of men. Their efforts to appear interested in the poor are nothing but play-acting. Their almsgiving is mostly a staged act. They are hypocrites and phonies. We always need to be on guard of this ever-present problem of becoming a hypocrite.

The hypocrite has his reward. He is paid in full, but is broke and has nothing. This is a devastating comment. It may not appear that way to the casual reader, but the examination of the language will make it plain that it is a devastating comment. The word "have" comes from the Greek word apecho {ap-ekh'-o}. The language of Jesus here is emphatic or decisive. Apecho is a technical term for commercial transactions and means to "receive a sum in full and give a receipt for it." Men's praise is all the reward that hypocritical or glory-givers will receive.

When you think about it, you will find that they were not giving but buying, and they got what they paid for... the praise of men. It is possible to be the most generous Christian around, both in the amount and proportion you give, and yet have no reward, except what you immediately receive. You can be paid in full, but really have nothing. The reward that hypocritical almsgivers will get is the reward of cheap, human praise which they are seeking by doing their good works for self-glory. There is no heavenly reward for them. There is no reward in the future. That momentary praise of men is their entire reward. They have been paid in full, but have nothing and have no reward to look forward to in eternity. That is a tragedy.

Your spiritual sight is dim if you clutch for the fleeting rewards of earth and let the rewards of Heaven slip through your fingers like sand from a beautiful beach. An Aesop's fable tells of a wolf who wanted to have a sheep for his dinner and decided to disguise himself as a lamb and follow the flock into the fold. While the wolf waited until the sheep went to sleep, the shepherd decided he would have mutton for his own meal. In the dark he picked out what he thought was the largest, fattest sheep, but after he had killed the animal, he discovered it was a wolf. What that shepherd did inadvertently to a wolf in sheep's clothing, God does intentionally. The Lord judges hypocrisy.


Jesus has told us what not to do when it comes to charitable giving. Now He tells us what we should do. Our Lord uses an extreme, absurd illustration to emphasize the intense privacy that should be present when we give to help others. The left hand is not to know what the right hand is doing. What is this all about?

The right hand is the one we normally use in giving because most of us are right-handed. Thus, when we give, our giving must be so hidden that the left hand does not even see what is happening. The idea is, we are not to tell others of our giving and we are not to make a big deal of it to ourselves. It is to be done in secret. In many cases, works of charity must be hidden from even our nearest relatives, who, if they knew, would hinder us from doing what God has given us power and inclination to perform. We must go even farther and conceal them as far as is possible from ourselves, by not thinking of them, or eyeing them with self-satisfaction or fodder for future boasting.

The idea of not letting the left hand know what the right hand does pictures secrecy. The best way to avoid hypocrisy is to let no other people know when we give. In Jesus' time it is said that there was a special, out-of-the-way place in the Temple where shy, humble Jews could leave their gifts without being noticed. Another place nearby was provided for the shy poor, who did not want to be seen asking for help. Here they would come and take what they needed. The name of the place was the Chamber of the Silent. People gave and people were helped, but no one knew the identities of either group. Thus, a person could give in secret to the poor.

The fact that we are to do our good deeds in "secret" does not mean that they are never to be done in a more public way. We can carry this to the extreme, of course. Some of our works cannot help but be seen of men. True righteousness cannot be kept entirely secret, and should not be. God is going to bless those who love and help others with the right motives.

Psalm 106:3—Blessed are they that keep judgment, and he that doeth righteousness at all times.

Jesus' point here was that we should not draw attention to ourselves when we give. Christ says that we are to shun public attention and also personal attention. Our almsgiving (as well as any other good works) need to be done with better motives than to impress people. Beloved, we do not need people's attention to get God's attention, and God's attention is all that we need. Do not worry about how many know about your charitable gifts or other good work. It only matters that God knows, and He knows all we do whether it be done in public or in private.

Some folks may see a contradiction here with a previous verse in the Sermon on the Mount which says, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16). There is, however, no contradiction. The discrepancy is only imaginary. This earlier text in the Sermon on the Mount simply tells us to live a godly life unashamedly before men for the glory of God. It condemns those who would conceal from others that they are a Christian and who would not live the Christian life before others.

The question is not whether or not our good works should he seen by others, but whether they are done for that end. When they are done "in such a way" that attention and glory are focused on our "Father who is in heaven" rather than on ourselves, God is pleased, but if they are done to be noticed by men, they are done self-righteously and hypocritically, and are rejected by God. The difference is in purpose and motivation. When what we do is done in the right spirit and for the right purpose, it will almost inevitably be done in the right way.

The text about charitable giving to the poor in Matthew 6 is speaking of an entirely different situation than Matthew 5:16. Matthew chapter six is condemning the glorifying of self. In Matthew 5:16, Jesus is dealing with cowardice, whereas in Matthew 6, He is dealing with hypocrisy. A. B. Bruce gives the helpful explanation, "We are to show when tempted to hide and hide when tempted to show." The overall principle in both texts is that we are to live a life that seeks to glorify God. In the one case it is accomplished by faithfully living a godly life in public and in the other case it is by not seeking personal glory in public. The Christian is to live his life in such a way that when men look at him, and see the quality of his life, will glorify the Lord Jesus Christ. How does this happen?

When a good work has been done, we should dismiss it from our minds and not congratulate ourselves upon it. We are to put it behind us and press on to what is yet before us. We must not within ourselves take notice too much of the good works that we do. We must not applaud and admire ourselves and say, "Wow, look at what I did." We are not to keep track of our personal deeds so later we can boast to others about them or become puffed up over them. Do not give yourself merit marks or Brownie points. What you should do is forget your goodness, follow God, do what needs to be done today and forget about yesterday's accomplishments.

Charles Spurgeon and his wife, according to a story in The Chaplain magazine, would sell, but refused to give away, the eggs their chickens laid. Even close relatives were told, "You may have them if you pay for them." As a result some people labeled the Spurgeons as greedy and grasping people. They accepted the criticisms without defending themselves, and only after Mrs. Spurgeon died was the full story revealed. All the profits from the sale of eggs went to support two elderly widows. Because the Spurgeons were willing to let their left hand not know what the right hand was doing and keep their giving secret, they endured their attacks and criticisms in silence.

Whether the person we help is grateful or ungrateful, it should not matter as far as our own purpose is concerned. If he is ungrateful, we are sorry for his sake, not for our own sake. Why? We gave for the purpose of glorifying God and not ourselves. In fact, the ungratefulness of others that we help will be a test of our motives. If we find ourselves getting bitter or upset, then it may indicate our motives were not for God's glory. If we can still rejoice, in spite of the ungratefulness of others, then our motive was truly for the glory of God and we rejoice in the fact that He is honored and pleased. If we will go ahead and give in secret, we won't have to worry about the gratefulness of others at all, because they will not know whom to thank except the Lord. Wha la! Our goal, if our motive is pure, is reached. God is glorified, and guess what? He will bless your generosity and pure motives.

Proverbs 11:25—The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.

Ecclesiastes 11:1—Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.

Let me add that when others do things for you, be sure to express gratefulness to them.

Principles for Giving with the Right Motives

1. Start Your Giving by Giving Yourself to the Lord

Before you give anything to the Lord, make sure you have given yourself to Him. When the Lord has you, He has everything else. There is no longer a tug of war between you and God's will for your life.

2 Corinthians 8:5—And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.

David Livingstone, before he had thought of being a missionary himself, devoted to foreign missions all his wages except so much as was required for his frugal needs. Many businessmen today turn over the major portions of their profits to the Lord's work. Have you ever noticed that those folks that give the most are often those that do the most for the Lord Jesus Christ. It is not as though they permit their money to do the work while they sit idly by. No, no, these are those who first give of themselves to the Lord, and then of their substance.

When candy manufacturer John S. Huyler started out in business, he took Jacob's pledge: "...of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee" (Gen. 28:22). Going to the bank, he opened a special account which he initialed "M.P." Into that fund he regularly entered a proportionate amount of his income. When anyone asked what the strange label meant, they were told that it stood for "My Partner." As he kept God uppermost in his mind in all his transactions, his industry grew at a phenomenal rate, and each week the "Lord's treasury" received increasingly large sums. His gifts to worthy causes and private individuals amazed his business associates. These contributions were always accompanied with the request that the donor should not receive any thanks or glory for his actions. He asked each recipient to offer praise to God alone, for he said, "After all, the money isn't mine; it's the Lord's!" Is it any wonder why John Huyler was so greatly blessed.

Romans 12:1—I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

2. The Sacrifice of Giving

Genuine giving is to be sacrificial. The degree of sacrifice is an indication of the importance of the recipient of the gift. Worship is worth ship. When we worship Christ, we are indicating His value and importance to us. Our sacrificial giving is tangible evidence of His worth, His importance to us. In fact, David refused to give to the Lord that which cost him nothing.

2 Samuel 24:24—And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord my God of that which doth cost me nothing. So David bought the threshingfloor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.

Generosity is not measured by the size of the gift itself, but by its size in comparison to what is possessed. God's main focus is not on what is in the offering plate, but what is not in the plate. In her book, Today's Good Word, Ethel B. Sutton tells of a young British soldier who was blinded in battle. He was an accomplished musician and spent much of his time in the hospital playing the piano for the wounded. He always put his heart into his playing, hoping the music would encourage the men.

One day when he finished a number, someone clapped energetically. The soldier asked, "Who are you?" He was astonished when the man replied, "I am your king!" The king had come to encourage those who had been wounded for their country. Without realizing it, this young man had been using his talent to entertain the king.

Peter says, "Each has received a gift." It may not seem like much when compared with what others may possess, but utilize it "in serving one another." When it is used, we may be sure there is always an audience of at least one—our Lord. Do what you can. You may not get much attention. You may not win an award—you may not be mentioned in the bulletin, but God notices it.

In fact, when Jesus was teaching in the temple, He went and sat opposite of the treasury and watched the people as they contributed their money. There was one who caught the eye of Jesus but she wasn't noticed by anyone else. The reason, her gift was too small, but in the eyes of Jesus, it was bigger than all the others. The widow who gave "two small copper coins" to the Temple treasury gave more than all the many rich people who were putting in large sums because they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on. The Lord was impressed with what she had left. She had nothing. She gave it all. When you use your gift faithfully—whether it is an encouraging word, a pat on the back, visiting the lonely, generous giving of money, making a phone call, providing transportation—whatever it may be, remember, you're doing it for the King.

Mark 12:41-44—And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. [42] And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. [43] And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: [44] For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.

3. The Standard and Situation of Giving

A person who is not generous when he is poor, will not be generous if he becomes rich. He might then give a larger amount, but he will not give a larger proportion. God looks at the proportion of our giving. When we are faithful stewards of the small gifts and blessings that He entrusts us with, He may bless us with greater blessings and gifts.

Luke 16:10—He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.

It is extremely important to teach your kids to give generously to the Lord with whatever small amounts of money they get, because the attitudes and patterns they develop as children are likely to be the ones they follow when they are grown. They will develop a philosophy in the area of giving. Beloved, giving is not a matter of how much money one has but of how much love and care is in the heart. If there is no love or concern in the heart, there will be little or no generosity no matter how much wealth a person possesses.

4. Smart Sense in Giving

To those who are not faithful and show wisdom with mundane things such as money and other possessions, the Lord will not entrust things that are of far greater value.

Luke 16:11-12—If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? [12] And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?

Many young men have dropped out of seminary because they could not handle money, and the Lord did not want them in His ministry. Others have begun in the ministry but later dropped out for the same reason. Still others remain in the ministry but produce little fruit because God will not commit the care of eternal souls to them when they cannot even manage their own finances.

5. Self-Determined Giving

Giving is to be personally planned or determined. It is not to be done under pressure, compulsion or reluctantly. Those who beg or arm-twist people to give are in error, no matter what the purpose or cause for the gift. It is never right, to do wrong, in order to do right. There are three kinds of givers—the flint, the sponge and the honeycomb. To get anything out of a flint you must hammer it. And then you get only chips and sparks. To get water out of a sponge you must squeeze it, and the more you use pressure, the more you will get. The honeycomb, however, just overflows with its own sweetness. Which kind of giver are you?

2 Corinthians 9:7—Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

Giving with glad and generous hearts has a way of routing out the tough old miser within us. Even the poor need to know that they can give. Just the very act of letting go of money, or some other treasure, does something within us. It destroys the demon of greed.

2 Corinthians 8:1-2—Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; [2] How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.

Righteous giving is done from a righteous and generous heart. The Macedonian Christians gave abundantly out of their deep financial poverty because spiritually, they were rich in love for Jesus Christ.

6. The Signals of Stress and Straits of Others

We are to give in response to the needs of others. In fact, we are responsible to be aware and alert to the needs of other people, looking for opportunities to be of help to them. The early Christians in Jerusalem shared their resources without hesitation or reservation. Many of their fellow believers had become destitute when they trusted in Christ and were ostracized from their families and lost employment because of their faith in Christ. Years later, Paul collected money from the Galatian churches to help meet the great needs that continued to exist among the saints in Jerusalem and that had been intensified by famine.

There have always been charlatans who manufacture needs and play on the sympathy of others. There have always been professional beggars, who are able to work, but would rather not. A Christian has no responsibility to support such people and should take reasonable care to determine if and when a real need exists before giving his money. If a person is healthy and can work, but is unwilling to work, then he shouldn't eat and our money should not be used to encourage his laziness. Where a real need does exist, our obligation to help meet that need also exists.

2 Thessalonians 3:10—For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.

7. The Source and Sowing of our Giving

We are to give from our heart. When we do this we are investing with God who clearly sees what is going on in our heart. When our giving is sincere and from the heart, we tend to be more generous. When we give, we will reap what we have sown.

August H. Francke, the well-known German preacher of the 17th century, founded an orphanage to take care of the homeless children who roamed the streets of Halle. One day when he desperately needed funds to carry on his work, a destitute Christian widow came to his door begging for one gold ducat. Because of his financial situation, he politely but regretfully refused. Disheartened, the woman sat down and began to weep. Moved by her tears, Francke asked her to wait while he went to his room to pray about the matter. Seeking God's guidance, he felt that the Holy Spirit wanted him to grant the request. Trusting the Lord to meet his own pressing needs, he gave her the money.

Two mornings later he received a warm letter of thanks from the widow saying that because of his generosity she had asked the Lord to shower the orphanage with gifts. That same day he received 12 ducats from a rich lady and two from a friend in Sweden. He thought he had been amply rewarded, but shortly afterward he was informed that Prince Lodewyk Van Wurtenburg had died, and in his will, had directed that 500 gold pieces be given to the orphanage! Francke wept in gratitude. In sacrificially providing for that needy saint, he had not been impoverished, but enriched. He sowed bountifully, and reaped bountifully.

2 Corinthians 9:6—But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.

Luke 6:38—Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.


The Bible makes it clear that the Lord is a good score keeper. God is faithful to reward His own for their righteous conduct.

Hebrews 6:10—For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

You do not have to do your good deeds in public for God to see and know about them. He sees in secret as well as in public. Rest assured God knows all about your righteous acts and service and will reward you personally as a loving Father. We value especially gifts or rewards that are given to us by famous people and by people in high positions, but to receive a reward from the Lord "Himself is the ultimate gift. These rewards coming from God mean they will be the best rewards anyone can obtain.

God is not cheap and does not give cheap rewards. No rewards are so valuable, so lasting, so satisfying as His reward. The rewards of the Lord will not ruin your character as many rewards of men do. Men's rewards are often very detrimental to your character. In fact, people sell their character to get recognition from mankind, but God's rewards only help a person's character. These rewards from God may come in this life or in the next life, but rest assured, they will come for, He keeps His promises. In this life, the Christian can enjoy several rewards.

1. The Reward of Satisfaction

The first of the Christian rewards is satisfaction. The doing of what is right and being obedient to the Lord Jesus Christ always brings satisfaction. It may well be that, if a man does the right thing, and obeys Jesus Christ, he may lose his fortune, popularity, position, or prestige. He may end up being rejected, abandoned, and alone, but he will still possess that inner satisfaction that comes from doing the will of God. It is a satisfaction which no money on earth can buy. There is also a satisfaction that comes from seeing God use you to bless others. It is the satisfaction of knowing the purpose of your life and fulfilling that purpose.

2. The Reward of Greater Service and Responsibility

The second reward of the Christian life is the opportunity to do more work and have greater responsibility. It is the paradox of the Christian idea of reward that a task well done does not bring rest, comfort, and ease. It brings still greater demands and still more strenuous endeavors. In the parable of the talents the reward of the faithful servants was still greater responsibility (Matt 25:14-30).

When a teacher gets a really brilliant and able scholar, he does not exempt him from work. He gives him harder work than is given to anyone else. The brilliant young musician is given, not easier, but harder music to master. The Christian reward is the reverse of the world's reward. The world's reward would be an easier time. The reward of the Christian is that God lays still more and more upon a man to do for Him and for his fellow-men. The harder the work we are given to do, the greater the reward.

3. The Reward of the Serenity of Walking with God

If a man goes his own way, he drifts farther and farther from the Lord. The fellowship between him and God is broken until in the end, God becomes a grim stranger, whom he only wishes to avoid. On the other hand, if a man all his life has sought to walk with God, if he has sought to obey his Lord, if goodness has been his quest through all his days, then all throughout his life he has been growing closer and closer to the Lord, until in the end, he passes into God's nearer presence, without fear and with radiant joy—and that is the greatest reward of all. Eternal rewards are the greatest, best, lasting, and most satisfying rewards. The rewards of men are nothing in comparison to God's rewards. Strive for His rewards and forget about what men can offer you. Live your life to glorify God lest you be paid in full and find yourself broke.