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How We Should Give (Matthew 6:1-4)

First Baptist Church https://fbcbartow.org

“How We Should Give”

(Matthew 6:1-4)

Series: God’s Fulfilled Promise [on screen]

Rev. Matthew C. McCraw, EdD

First Baptist Church, Bartow, Florida

November 4, 2018

Introductory Comments:

Last week we finished chapter 5 of Matthew, which was the front part of Jesus’ famous sermon on the mountainside. 

In Matthew 5, Jesus is clarifying for us how to live for God. He wants us to know the particulars of what the law of God means for those who want to truly follow God. He wants to show us the outward manifestation of living for God. 

Now, Jesus turns His attention to the inward manifestation of living for God. He turns His attention to what’s happening on the inside. 

He speaks to us in the first half of Matthew chapter 6 about giving, praying, and fasting. 

For Jesus’ listeners, giving to the poor, prayer, and fasting were key acts of holy living. They would have wanted to do these things to be holy, or to appear holy. 

Jesus is addressing what should be happening in our hearts and minds when we are doing these holy acts. 

So, as with Matthew chapter 5, in Matthew chapter 6, Jesus is calling us to true godly living, this time on the inside. 

Let’s look at the passage together. 

Read the Passage

Read Matthew 6:1-4

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. Otherwise, you have no reward with your Father in heaven. 2 So whenever you give to the poor, don’t sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be applauded by people. Truly I tell you, they have their reward. 3 But when you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Let’s pray together.


Illustration: Often times when you’re learning how to do something, it’s helpful to learn how not to do that task. Last weekend I was changing bulbs in the taillights on my truck. I changed the bulb that I thought was out and asked my wife to come out and look at the lights as I turned on the taillights, turned on the blinkers, and pressed the brake. I began to get frustrated as the bulb that I replaced didn’t light up. I even switched it out with a good bulb and it still didn’t. It wasn’t until I figured out that what I was doing didn’t control that bulb that I was able to fix things. You see, I needed to put the truck in reverse to check that bulb. With the help of my wife, I figured out all the ways not to check a reverse bulb, which finally helped me understand how to properly check a reverse bulb. 

In today’s passage, Jesus is going to speak to us about giving to the poor, which is a fundamental part of what it means to be a follower of God. 

In doing so, Jesus wants to make sure that we understand how not to give and how to give. 

Let’s look at how not to give first. That’s our first point.  

I. How not to give (vv. 1-2) [on screen]

Jesus says to “be careful,” or “beware,” or “take heed.”

That phrase should catch our attention. 

There is something that we could possibly do that would be harmful to us. 

Illustration: When you walk up to a house with a sign that says, “Beware of Dog,” your senses are heightened. You’re looking for the dog. 

Jesus says “beware,” because something we do could cause harm. 

We should pay attention so as not to do that thing. 

Well, towards what act does Jesus tells us to be careful?

He says, “not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them.”

This is a theme He will maintain as we look at praying and fasting in the coming weeks.

The clear implication, which He’ll go into in verse 2 is that some are tempted to practice their righteousness in front of others for the express purpose of making themselves look good, or gain recognition. 

The plays out as someone sees your righteous deed and says, “Wow, that Matt McCraw sure is a godly fellow. Look at his righteousness. He must really love Jesus.” As a result, you receive the attention and recognition. 


This is not why we should live out righteous acts. 

Starting in verse 2, Jesus specifically narrows His discussion to giving. 

He says, “whenever you give to the poor, don’t sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be applauded by people.”

There is discussion as to what exactly Jesus means when He says, “don’t sound a trumpet.”

Some say that there was actually a trumpet that would be blown to indicate that it was time for the poor in the community to come to the temple to receive financial aid. 

Others say that this refers to the collection bins for money. There was a trumpet shaped metal cone that funneled into the collection box and narrowed at the opening into the box. This prevented people from sticking their hands into the box to steal money. Additionally, one could throw their coins into the cone in such a way to create a loud clanging so everyone around knew that they were putting a lot of money into the collection box. 

In either case, the idea of what Jesus is saying is, don’t try to draw attention to the fact that you are giving money. Don’t sound the trumpet. 

“Hey everyone, look over here! I’m about to give some money! It’s a lot of money!” Don’t do that! 

Jesus says those who do this are hypocrites. 

Now, I’m sure many of you have heard this before, but the root of the word hypocrite refers to the actors in Greek and Roman culture. 

In other words, a hypocrite is someone who is actually one thing but acts like something else. 

So, these people act like they are holy, they act like they are righteous, they act like they are followers of God, but in reality, they are not. They are hypocrites. 

Jesus then says that they have their reward.

Well, what is their reward?

Some suggested that Jesus was merely being sarcastic at this point, indicating that there really is no reward for these people. 

However, I think also that the meaning could be that the hypocrites do have a reward, but it is far less than the better reward. They have the approval of man, but not the approval of God. 

These hypocrites have traded the reward from God for a reward from man. 

That’s a bad trade, any day of the week. 


When you give, who is your audience?

Are you giving for the praise of man or for the praise of God?

Are you giving to make yourself look special or make God look special?

We learn from verses 1 and 2 how not to give. 

Now, let’s look at how to give. 

II. How to give (vv. 3-4)  [on screen]

Jesus says in verse 3, “But when you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.”

Let’s pause for a moment and acknowledge something. Jesus says when you give, not if you give. 

I don’t want to get too far off track here, but we need to realize that Jesus’ expectation for followers of God is that they will give. 

I shared a sermon on giving back when we covered the spiritual disciplines, but I think it’s worth reminding all of us that there are a lot of acts of righteousness that God calls us to as His followers. We’re going to look at three in Matthew chapter 6. Giving is a fundamental behavior and act of righteousness for a follower of Jesus. 

Jesus is speaking specifically here about giving to the poor, though the ministry of the temple. 

We see elsewhere as we go further into the New Testament that giving took place through local churches as churches ministered to the areas where they lived and to other areas outside of their own. 

Ministry took place as a result of the faithful and sacrificial giving of God’s people. 

Folks, ministry still takes place through the faithful and sacrificial giving of God’s people. 

At First Baptist Church Bartow, we do ministry as a result of faithful and sacrificial giving of God’s people. 

In order to do ministry, we must all give. If you’re not giving, you’re not being faithful to God’s Word, and you’re not being faithful to your church. 

We can do more effective ministry and a greater volume of ministry if everyone in our church family is giving faithfully and sacrificially. 

I wanted you to hear from your pastor on this because I believe God has a great vision in store for our church, but we must be faithful to achieve that vision. Part of our faithfulness is that we must give. 

If you have any questions for me on what that means for your family, or you as an individual, I’d love to talk to you more about this and walk you through what God’s Word says about this. There’s a lot of confusion out there, so I’d be glad to help you if I can. 

Enough about that. Here’s the point . . . Jesus expects us to give. He says, “when” you give. 

He says, “But when you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.”

This is again hyperbolic language. Remember, hyperbole is extreme exaggeration.

Jesus doesn’t literally mean that your two hands can’t be on the same mental page as one another. I had that problem when I played sports, but that’s another issue. 

What Jesus is saying is that we should give quietly so as not to raise any special attention, even amongst our own beings. 

Jesus says we are to give in secret. We are not to make a big fuss. We are not to draw attention. We are not to ask for recognition. 

We’re to give generously and sacrificially, as well as humbly and quietly. 

If we do so, Jesus says in verse 4 “your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

I want to tell you this tip, church: when it comes to the rewards of man or the rewards of God, you want the rewards of God, every time! Amen?

The rewards of God are so much richer, deeper, longer lasting, more soul-satisfying, fulfilling, and valuable than the rewards of man. 

Those who give for the recognition of others may get their reward, which is merely the recognition of others. 

Praise of man, recognition, names written on a list, plaques, all of those things will one day pass away. 

However, the rewards of God are eternal and everlasting. 

Jesus will speak about this more in the later part of Matthew 6. 

Do you want the recognition of others or the rewards of God?

God will remember your sacrifice and your giving, both to those in need and to the cause of Christ carried out through the local church. 

Make a heavenly investment, and do so secretly. Do so where only the One who sees in secret will notice. Be sure, He will reward you. 

Concluding Thoughts:

As a matter of clarification, there is certainly nothing wrong with practicing righteousness in front of other people.

Remember, Jesus said in Matthew 5:16, 

“ . . . let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”  [on screen]

It’s not even necessarily wrong to give in a public way, depending on the circumstances. 

However, the question comes down to our motivation. Are we giving for the glory of God?

When you give, why do you give?

Bottom Line: Give for the glory of God, not for the glory of yourself.  [on screen]


We should never seek any glory for ourselves. It should all be about God. Even in the way that we give, we can give Him glory. 

The Life Application Study Bible says, “Our giving should not be self-centered, but God centered.” I like that.

God-centered giving does not seek recognition. It is ultra-generous and is committed to the mission of God. 


Did you know that by not giving you can also be seeking to glorify yourself?


By not giving, you’re indicating that money is more important to you than the obedience of God. In doing so, you’re glorifying your desires, your wants, and your ways. 

So, give; generously and quietly. 

Weekly Challenge: [on screen]

  1. Give this week for the glory of God.  [on screen]

That it. Give so that God is lifted up. Don’t make yourself look special. Make Him look special. 


Why is God so special and why does deserve the glory?

Let me tell you about who God is and what He’s done. 

(Gospel Presentation)

(Closing Prayer)

Invitation Song – I Surrender All


If you have any sort of spiritual decision that you would like to make, you can contact me or Pastor Richard and we would be glad to talk to you anytime.

Tonight, we’ll be meeting for our final Bible book summary night in our series “An Expedition in the Bible.” Join us at 5:30 PM. 

Also, if you had your picture taken for the church directory, and you have not yet received your directory, please visit the folks at the table in the hallway right outside the back of the sanctuary. They’ll get your directory for you. If you didn’t get your picture taken, and you want a directory, please give us a few weeks and check with us to see about getting one. 

Let’s dismiss by singing the Doxology. 

(Sing Doxology)

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