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Trumpets, Hypocrites, and Giving from the Heart

Giving from the heart

From Christ’s Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 6:1-4

Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

In Matthew 6:1-18, Jesus exposes the Pharisees' hypocrisy in giving to those in need, praying, and fasting. The group's promotion of their own righteousness was opposed to worship of God.

Just how serious are these matters to the Lord? In His opening statement, Jesus uses the word “beware” as an admonishment, serving notice that we should be intentional when adhering to His commands. Christ’s exhortation has everything to do with the heart’s motives.

Concerning the pharisaical heart, the Lord uses the word hypocrite to call out the religious leaders. The word is derived from the Greek term for “actor”—or “one who wears a mask.” Hypocrisy is all about living in a way that is opposed to one’s stated beliefs. In short, when Jesus calls out hypocrites, He points to people who indulge in hypocrisy.

In giving of alms (Matthew 6:2-4), Jesus uses hyperbole to make several points. He states, “So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you.” Of course, people do not use literal trumpets to draw attention to themselves; however, attention seekers will find means to spotlight their deeds. This is opposed to the modesty of a Christ-follower. Further, when Christ gives His command on how to give to the poor, He explains, “But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret.” This demonstrates that non-advertised giving avoids the pitfalls of seeking man's approval.

Ultimately, Jesus is of humble heart, and He presses upon His disciples to follow His example. Sincere Christians will embrace humility when engaging the Lord’s work. When we take little notice of our own good deeds, God Himself takes notice. Giving is a great thing! The Lord loves a cheerful giver, and He has given to us lavishly (2 Corinthians 9:6-15). Giving is a Christian duty that inherits heavenly rewards; it is not engaged for the praise and applause of men.

Today, it’s hyper-easy to lay out our righteousness before others. For instance, online funding campaigns encourage us to not only give to others in need but also link our names to acts of kindness. Social media allows us to post selfies while helping the less fortunate, either locally or on mission trips. While such acts could indeed be innocent of blatant self-promotion, we should ask ourselves questions when contemplating the sharing our generosity publicly. Do I really need to post a selfie while I am providing assistance for Christ’s glory? Does the public display of my giving glorify me or is it glorifying God? If I search my heart, what are my true intentions?

For clarification, this is not to say that our good works will never be noticed by men, and it does not contradict Jesus’ command to let our light shine before men (Matthew 5:14-16). When we conduct our deeds in worship of God, the fruits will ultimately be seen by the world. Godly character cannot be hidden, and the name of the Lord will always be on our lips. The way we treat others and honor God with our lives produces fruit that will be viewed by the world.

Nonetheless, if we are not operating in the Spirit, our flesh will take opportunities to sell and display righteous works before others. In fact, without the Spirit, any evangelism we engage becomes a prop for our egos; not works that glorify God. Reviewing intentions is always necessary with the fallen human heart. And when it comes to supplying others with material needs, we should take Jesus’ command seriously and adhere to His instructions.


Proverbs 16:2

All the ways of a man are pure in his own sight,

But Yahweh weighs the motives.

Jeremiah 17:10

I, Yahweh, search the heart; I test the inmost being,

Even to give to each man according to his ways,

According to the fruit of his deeds.

2 Corinthians 9:6-15

Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows with blessing will also reap with blessing. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make every grace abound to you, so that in everything at every time having every sufficiency, you may have an abundance for every good deed; as it is written,

“He scattered abroad, he gave to the needy, His righteousness stands forever.”

Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed and increase the harvest of your righteousness; you will be enriched in everything for all generosity, which through us is bringing about thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints, but is also abounding through many thanksgivings to God. Because of the proven character given by this ministry, they will glorify God for your obedience to your confession of the gospel of Christ and for the generosity of your fellowship toward them and toward all, while they also, by prayer on your behalf, long for you because of the surpassing grace of God on you. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

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