Oh boy... It's funny how the LORD aligns everything at just the right time. Something has been stirring in me regarding serving the poor. I have literally read 6 books in the past 6 weeks regarding stewardship, giving, and serving the poor. I've been reading through Matthew and eager to get to Chapter 6. It addresses all of these areas.
Matthew says that if we think we can earn righteousness through "doing" then we must "be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect." (Matt 5:48)
Jesus tells us in the beatitudes how to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. He tells us who we are and who we are not, who God is and who He is not. He goes on to explain sin: Listen, you don't get in by "being good". Let me just explain how utterly sinful you are, that even your thoughts are sinful, not just your action. Essentially, to be good enough to enter into Heaven, you must be perfect.
That should put us flat on the ground! We will never be perfect. Jesus knows that, and that's why He came and died, and invites us to rest in HIS finished work on the cross.
In Chapter 6, He starts telling us not to turn to religious activity either (giving to the needy, prayer, fasting, etc.). If we do these things, let them be from a pure heart, renewed by God, and for NO attention from others.
If we give, if we pray, if we fast... it is out of an overflow of love and obedience for the LORD and nothing else.
And that's it. Convicted already by the first verse in Chapter 6.
"Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 6:1)
Of course I would read this AFTER I promoted a bag sale for the school I work for via Facebook, my blog, etc., etc. So I immediately ask, oh LORD am I practicing righteousness in front of others to be seen by them??
What are the motives behind this?
Is my heart pure?
Am I wanting to serve or be seen by others??
I always struggle with this during Serve Dei time. We are to share what we're doing in the city, how we're serving the LORD by serving others, to spur one another on, but in a way that is honoring to God, not boasting in ourselves.
It's easy to do things and (as the next verse says) sound the trumpet for everyone to see!
May it never be that we serve for an audience, to be seen by many.
Let us serve only to glorify you, only for an audience of ONE!
“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 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. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you." (Matthew 6:2-4)