Key Verse: 6:4b "Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."
People often say, “Don't hold out for pie in the sky. Be realistic.” People tend to forget about having a future after death. We often focus on life here on earth, especially while we are young. The author Matthew also used to live for this world as a tax collector. But purely by the graceful calling of Jesus, he changed. Jesus says, “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Matthew learned to value what is eternal over what is temporary in this world. He also reminds us of when Jesus says, “Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven.” Today’s key word is reward. According to the dictionary, it means “something given or received in recompense for worthy behavior or in retribution for evil acts.” This word is used more frequently in this book than in any other book in the Bible. Even in the 4 verses from today’s passage, it appears 3 times. May the Lord help us to have Jesus’ point of view to see God’s eternal reward.
Look at v 1. Jesus said, "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." Here notice the word “righteousness” "Tzedakah" is the Hebrew word for the acts that we call "charity" in English. "Tzedakah" is derived from the 3 Hebrew roots; Tzadei-Dalet-Qof, meaning righteousness, justice or fairness. So giving to the poor is not viewed as a generous act but it’s simply a fair act of justice and righteousness, the performance of a duty, giving the poor their due. Similarly in v1, when we practice giving, Jesus warns us not to be seen by others because if we are, then there will be no reward from God. Men may praise us for a few minutes. This does not give us real meaning in our lives, or lasting joy. God's reward is eternal; it truly satisfies our souls. We need God's reward. God's reward makes our lives joyful, meaningful and fruitful. Jesus does not want us to settle for empty human praises.
Look at v 2. “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. A hypocrite is an actor. What he or she says and does in front of others is not a true reflection of who he or she really is. Hypocrites do not show the truth. They have exchanged the truth for the fleeting glory of human recognition. We all have some desire to be recognized by others. We can be vulnerable when it comes to looking to others for their praise. Because we received God's salvation free of charge, so we should also give to the needy free of charge. Jesus told his disciples, "Freely you have received, freely give" (Mt 10:8b). For Christians, it is a pure expression of the grace that God has given us. Jim Elliot who died in Ecuador at 28 years old as a missionary wrote on his daily note, “One of the greatest blessings of heaven is the appreciation of heaven on earth. He is no fool who gives what he can not keep to gain that which he can not lose.”
What comes to your mind when you hear the words, "give to the needy?" Is it a person who is homeless asking for a few dollars? We may show compassion to such people. However, this is just a small example. The needy can also be interpreted from an eternal perspective. With such a perspective, young people who do not know how to invest their lives in Jesus are the most needy people to be helped spiritually with the truthful words and the Holy Spirit so that the eyes of their hearts may be open wide and enlightened to see the real reality for eternity in the kingdom of God. So our young people and growing children in our own generation are truly needy. How wonderful it’s to give our time, money, and our hearts to help needy young people in this world where selfishness keeps people from sharing what God gives freely!
When we give our hearts and time to the needy it is easy for us to want to blow a trumpet and make what we are doing known to others in order to impress them. We may not verbalize our feelings, but we may say it in our hearts. Did you know that we can even play trumpets in our hearts? I really do! However if we do, there will be no reward from God. That is a real problem. The term "reward" in this verse is a translation of a Greek financial term. Literally it refers to debts being canceled, which is almost identical to the English phrase "paid in full." So those who are overly boastful will not be "paid in full" by God. If one is expecting praise from others, then this will be their only reward, therefore missing out on God's much greater reward.
What, then, should we do? Look at v 3-4a. “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.” Jesus says here our left hand should not know what the right hand is doing. Jesus encourages us to keep our giving secret, even from ourselves. After giving, we should forget about it. Jesus wants us to do any righteous acts in secret before our Father in heaven who is unseen. TheHYPERLINK "http://www.jewfaq.org/defs/talmud.htm" Talmud which holds many important Jewish traditions describes the different levels of tzedakah, or charity, like these: 1. Giving reluctantly, 2. Giving less that you should, but giving it cheerfully, 3. Giving after being asked, 4. Giving before being asked, 5. Giving when you do not know the recipient's identity, but the recipient knows your identity, 6. Giving when you know the recipient's identity, but the recipient doesn't know your identity, 7. Giving when neither party knows the other's identity, 8. Enabling the recipient to become self-reliant. No doubt 7 & 8 are higher and more desirable levels to achieve. Jesus says(Mt 25:37-39). “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?” They had completely forgotten what they had done. They had served others purely to practice the love of God. To those who receive the love of God, practicing it toward others is spontaneous; they do it because they are happy to serve others, not keeping track of their good deeds. So Jesussays(Mt 25:40), “the King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’” When the righteous practice the love of God towards needy brothers and sisters, Jesus accepts it as direct love for him. Especially Jesus says, “whatever you did” This may be something very small. However, to a person in need, small acts of service have tremendous impact. For instance when we go out fishing on campus and serve one Bible study, it may seem like a trivial thing. However it will surely impact our most needy young people with the truthful words of God and their lives will be changed as they come to see their true master Jesus Christ in person.
Let’s read key v4b. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Just as every grocery store has a program to reward their customers, so the Bible teaches that God also has a program to reward those who are faithful to Him on earth. It is so called “Heaven’s Reward Program." You may wonder how I came up with this. Jesus says in Rev 22:12, “Look, I am coming soon!My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.” Let’s look some examples from the teachings of Jesus who is our savior and the sole proprietor of the Heavenly reward program. Jesus says (Lk14:12-14), “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind,14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
Jesus says(Lk 6:22-23), “Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.“Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.” Our families and friends may not understand when we mean business to follow Jesus by accepting His words, such as when we choose to deny ourselves. It may seem to be unpleasant at the time, but it’s to be joyful before Him. Jesus says(Mt10:41), “Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward.” What Jesus says here is encouraging because we will receive the same reward of a righteous person or prophet as we welcome them. Have you heard of a man named, Onesiphorus? Some of you here may remember him. Apostle Paul says in 2Tim 1:16-18, “May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains. 17 On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he searched hard for me until he found me. 18 May the Lord grant that he will find mercy from the Lord on that day! You know very well in how many ways he helped me in Ephesus.” May the Lord help us to be like him in serving and working with all of God’s servants with love and one mind.
Also Jesus says(Mt 10:42), “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.” Jesus never forgets whatever each person has done and will reward him or her surely. He is a guarantor who guarantees a promise in the life to come. This is God's everlasting reward, which is greater than we can ever possibly imagine. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.(Heb 4:13)
It also reminds me of Abram in Gen15:1. After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” Abram sacrificially helped his nephew Lot who was his sheep. But God knew him and comforted him with His living words. God says that He is the very great reward for him. According to God’s word, Abram became a blessing for all people on earth. When we also remain in Jesus and take seriously His words of promise, our living God who sees us, will surely reward us at his time. So let us be confident before God and continue to be a great source of blessing for others, especially young students through personal Bible studies in this upcoming fall semester.
Jesus also says(Mt16:27), “For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.” In short we can sum up the seven “S'es” Jesus will reward you for your seeking for Jesus, submitting to him as His servant, self-denial in His name, serving Jesus and those in need, suffering for Jesus, sacrifices we make, and sharing what we have with others. Whatever we give to God on earth for His name, He will give back to us in eternity.
Personally I am very thankful for this short passage for I have a great opportunity to learn again why eternal rewards are so valuable. I highly recommend we revisit each chapter in the book of Matthew with a focus on learning about God’s eternal reward. I believe that this is his main theme flowing throughout this book. Maybe some of us are not familiar with what the Bible says about the afterlife. So I would like to share it briefly based on what I have learned mainly through Matthew. In this way you may have a comprehensive view about what reward in the afterlife is all about.
Have you ever guessed when you will die? I was on the internet the other day and I found a website that calculates how long you have to live based on averages. In my case, I have about 12,276 days, 15 hours 15 minutes, 3 sec, left to live, which means, my funeral will quite possibly be on March 19th, 2047. Of course this is under the assumption that I remain free from any deadly diseases or fatal accidents. But it is not all. After our lives, a greater reality begins. So what will happen in the afterlife? The Bible says that we will exist forever. There are 6 steps in the timeline of our existence. When we are born on this earth, we are created in the image of God and begin to exist as an entity. Unlike animals, when we die, our existence continues as our souls and spirits continue to live on. When we reach our destination after death, it is determined by what we truly believed on earth. There are only two locations in the afterlife: heaven and hell. Every person will experience bodily resurrection. Jesus says(Jn 5:28, 29), “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out â€”those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.” So those who will live in heaven will be given the same body that Jesus has had after being raised from the tomb. In contrast those who will live in hell will live eternally under condemnation. 2Cor 5:10 reads, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” In this way each and every person will live forever based on our beliefs and actions on earth. It is not just an existence or state of mind, but a real life in a real place forever. Our life on earth is ridiculously short while eternity is more than billions of years. Our life on earth is like the small portion of twine sticking out while our eternal life is like the unending spool. Our eternal destination is determined by what we believe and our eternal reward is based on how we live on earth.
James 2:22 reads, “You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.” Mahatma Gandi said, “Your beliefs become your thoughts, Your thoughts become your words, Your words become your actions, Your actions become your habits, Your habits become your values, Your values become your destiny.” Although he is not a Christian, I couldn’t agree more with what he said. Jesus says(7:21-23), ““Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” Here Jesus’ point is, how we live in this life is a direct manifestation of what we truly believe.
Lastly, there are different rewards in Scripture.There are five crowns mentioned in the Bible, although there could be more. Who knows? First, a “Crown of righteousness” is given to those who loved the Lord’s appearing(2 Tim 4:8, Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that dayâ€”and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.) Second, an “Incorruptible crown” awaits those who are disciplined or self controlled.(1 Cor9:25, Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.) Third, a “Crown of life” is mentioned for those who endure patiently through trials.(James 1:12, “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him”) Fourth, a “Crown of glory” will be given to those who are shepherding others in Jesus’ name. 1Pet 5:2-4, “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over themâ€”not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve;3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.” The last crown is crown of rejoicing. Why rejoicing? It’s because joy stems from Jesus and serving others in Jesus’ name. This crown is for those who are winning souls for Jesus. Apostle Paul says to the Thess. church members whom he and his companions desired to serve faithfully(1thess 2:19), “For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown(the crown of rejoicing-1984 NIV) in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 20 Indeed, you are our glory and joy.”
That being said, we are so blessed and loved from our Jesus Christ who helps us to aim at perfection in serving others so that they may also grow in Jesus’ love to share Jesus’ joy. In this way God’s powerful work continues. Through our 2013 international Bible conference, we’ve learned that Jesus’ love can make us truly fruitful like a branch that remains in the true vine, Jesus Christ. I received grace from Jn15:7-8, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” Remaining in Jesus’ living words and putting into practice His sacrificial love is the key secret of living fruitful lives. David Livingstone pointed out that it is most miserable for us to live without meaning and purpose. It reminds me of Jesus’ saving grace for me. I used to live for fulfilling my biological father’s earthly dreams for me. However I had no absolute meaning and purpose in my life. God had mercy on me and sent me a personal Bible teacher and I met my eternal Father in Gen1:31. He called me a source of blessing like Abraham. Also at God’s time I was sent here as a Bible teacher. However it was not easy at all. Usually after serving students for two or three years, most of them did not want to follow Jesus as disciples. So I was frustrated and wondered, “What am I doing?” I was tempted to give up and go back to my old life as a successful radiologist in Korea. I was even tempted to go to seminary school to get a title. Indeed it was a vicious cycle. However when I prepared this message, I realized that this passage is exactly what I needed the most for I had lost sight of Jesus Christ who will reward those who live by faith. I was able to repent of my lack of faith. Always my Lord and my King, Jesus who is living sees what is done in secret, will reward me. Although my visible fruits such as disciples I have raised are scarce, still my Lord will value my time spent for Jesus without being overlooked. Jesus has two important books: the book of life where my name is written and another book for my deeds in him. Jesus will surely secure His eternal reward for me and I will live happily ever after with him in His heavenly Kingdom, my Father’s home. So I am now free from any despair or depression. May the Lord remind me of this continually so that I may boldly serve others. Let’s read key v4b. "Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."
“Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you”
It is not easy to be faithful in going out campus for inviting students and teaching them the Bible. Because we hardly see visible fruit such as raising disciples, we often times stop doing it. But through today’s passage Jesus understands our situation and helps us to see our Father in heaven who is unseen but rewards us faithfully.
Read verse 1. What are examples of ‘righteousness’? (1-18) Why does Jesus tell his people not to practice their righteousness in front of others? (1)
1-1)Read verse 1.
“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.
1-2) What are examples of ‘righteousness’? (1-18)
-giving to the needy,
These three deeds are considered to be righteous acts from our Lord Jesus.
The hebrew word “Tzadekah” is charity in English.
It stems from three different hebrew roots: Righteousness, fairness, and justice.
So giving is not a generous act but a fair act of righteousness and justice.
*The author Matthew used to live for the wrong purpose to make money.
But his value system is changed thanks to Jesus who called him to follow Him.
Since then he made a right decision to follow Jesus and built up right relationship with the Lord.
Chapter 5-7 are unique in that he wrote Jesus’ mount sermons being highlighted in man’s inner life.
In this way he is very interested in the kingdom of heaven.
In particular the Kingdom of heaven is repeated up to 55 times in Matthew.
He realized the real reality and eternal value in the kingdom of heaven.
1-3) Why does Jesus tell his people not to practice their righteousness in front of others? (1)
If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
The key word here is “Reward.”
Reward is repeated theme in the book of Matthew.
From verse 1 through 4, it is already repeated up to three times.
What is reward?
“something given or received in recompense for worthy behavior or in retribution for evil acts.”
Jesus will come and call his righteous people from four corners of the earth.
*There is an order of our existence(timeline).
Our physical life is not all for we are supposed to exist for good:
Birth, Death(the first death), Resurrection, Judgement(the second death), Eternity
Most importantly we will have surely resurrection body for either eternal reward or eternal punishment.
Those who will receive God’s reward will go to judgement seat without going through the second death while those who will be condemned will go to great white throne(Rev 20).
What we truly believes and what we have done on earth determine where we will be destined, heaven or hell and how we will be rewarded or retributed.
Jesus is the ultimate jugde(John 5).
Reward is the name of the game and earthly lives is the one and only chance to claim it.
Read verse 2. What should we not do when we give to the needy? (2a) Why do the hypocrites announce their giving to the needy with trumpets? (2b) What happens to those who announce their giving with trumpets? (2c)
2-1) Read verse 2.
2 “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.
2-2) What should we not do when we give to the needy(2a)
Do not announce it with trumpets
2-3) Why do the hypocrites announce their giving to the needy with trumpets? (2b)
to be honored by others
2-4) What happens to those who announce their giving with trumpets? (2c)
they have received their reward in full
It is a translation of a Greek commercial term. Literally it refers to cancelled bills.
"Paid in full," and this verse is stating that those who are overly boastful will not be "paid in full" by God.
So if one is expecting praise from one's fellows, then this is the only reward you will receive.
You will miss out on God's much greater reward.
Our final judge Jesus pointed out in verse 2, "they have received their reward in full".
Read verse 3-4a. What should you do when you give to the needy? (3-4a)
3-1) Read verse 3-4a.
3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret.
3-2) What should you do when you give to the needy? (3-4a)
Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing-basically please forget what you have done in secret
***In the last parable in Matt 25 regarding the sheep and goats, we can have an idea about true giving. King Jesus foretold that he would reward his people for their good deeds.
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?”
They had completely forgotten what they had done.
They had served others purely to practice the love of God out of their appeciation.
To those who receive the love of God, practicing it toward others is spontaneous;
they do it because they are happy to serve others, not keeping track of their good deeds
In Mat 25:40. “the true King(our Lord Jesus Christ) will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’”
Read verse 4b. Who will reward you when you practice giving in secret?
4-1) Read verse 4b.
Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
4-2) Who will reward you when you practice giving in secret?
Our Father who is unseen, will reward us.
Verse 6 and 18 also talks about the same way.
“And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”
We do need reward. But it should be rewarded in the right way. By faith we can do righteous acts before God’s eyes, not in front of people. And then surely God will reward each of us according to what we have done on earth. Praise the Lord!