ˇ°DO GOOD AND DO IT RIGHTˇ± By Pastor YAU
Text: Matthew 6:1-4 May 18, 2014.
1) Look good isn't good enough: ˇ°When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought: Surely the Lord's anointed stands here before the Lord. But the Lord said to Samuel: Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.ˇ± (1 Samuel 16:6-7) This last sentence is so golden that we are reminded of human errors when we judge a person, who he is or what he has by looking on his outside which often is misleading. It is nothing wrong to be tall and good looking like Eliab. But God looks deeper than the skin, he looks into our hearts, the real us.
2) Do good isn't good enough: ˇ°Be careful not to do your acts of righteous-ness before men to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.ˇ± (Matt 6:1) In making comments on do good things such as giving to the poor, prayer and fasting, Jesus reminded his audience that do good deed isn't good enough if the intention isn't good. This reflects exactly the same principle with Samuel: Good looking isn't good enough. It must have good intention to go along with it to be really good. The bottom line is: God doesn't care that much what we do, but cares more why we do it.
ACTS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS IN THE BIBLE: (Matthew 6:1)
1) The definition of righteous acts: ˇ°Righteousˇ± comes from dikaiosuven, or root, dixaios. It means right, good, virtuous things we do. There were three things the O T Jews must do to be considered good or righteous: a) Observe all the law, b) fasting with prayer, and c) giving to the poor. The first is expression of obedience to God, then the desire to advance one's spiritual dedication, and the last one is about loving the poor and the needy. Giving to or care for the poor and needy is an important part of God's command to be good and righteous both in the Old and the New Testaments.
2) Righteousness and compassion: Particularly in the O T, God linked acts of righteousness not for personal advancement but for the advancement of the downcast, the poor, the defenseless and the marginal. There were laws in the O T that God's people must do right to take care of these people. (Deut. 15:7-8; 24:19-22) From this law we know that God doesn't see righteousness as some of us see, mostly by self discipline for personal spiritual growth, but is about how we love and care the less fortunate, the aliens and orphans. Being compassionate to others is being righteous as God sees. These are lessons Christians need to learn and practice. Read the Book of Ruth and see how Boaz was kind, compassionate and generous to widows Ruth and Naomi.
3) Expend the scope of righteousness: Although we do not live in OT time and our society has become more sophisticated or complicated, people are less inclined to step in to care needs of others, we are taught to ˇ°not just care for the interest of ourselves but also for the interest of others.ˇ± (Phil 2:4) We are also reminded to carry the burdens of others. (Gal 6:2) Many people are less open today to care for the needs or misfortune of others to avoid getting involved into troubles not of their own. Although we see many are fervent in helping people in the church, but much less are interested in helping people in the society at large. Remember this: If God has entrusted us with resources and ability, God wants us to use them not only for ourselves but also for those who have less than we have, and that is act of righteousness God wants.
GOOD WORK WITH GOOD MOTIVE: (6:1b-2)
1) It's not just what but also why: ˇ°Be careful not to do your righteous acts before men to be seen by them.ˇ± (6:1) Jesus cares not just what we do but also why we do it. Doing good work such as helping the poor, devoted in prayer and fasting, are all good if we do them with proper motive: not to get attention or personal glory. Methods or better called schemes used by secular world to encourage giving of money, resource, time or talents with promise of fame, promotion, special recognition, honor or even publicity, should not be the motive of Christian service, charity of acts of righteousness. It is one thing that people honor us for what we have done, but it is something else if we do any good work for the purpose of selfish gain of any kind. If there is any one who may get the honor and glory, it is God and no one else.
2) Good work should not be a show: ˇ°So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets as the hypocrites do in the synagogue and on the street to be honored by men.ˇ± (6:2) Hypocrite comes from Greek hupokritai or hupo-krino, to put on a mask in a show to pretend to be someone. The idea of hypocrisy is people do something for the purpose to fool other to believe them on the mask they put on, but not the true person they really are. There are those who put on acts of righteousness or piety or honor to promote their own purpose or glory. Jesus stressed so much on genuine motive when we do good work to others, to God or to ourselves.
3) Good work and good rewards: ˇ°I tell you the truth: They have receive their rewards in full.ˇ± (6:2b) ˇ°Rewardsˇ±, misthon in Greek, a receipt on what you have given or done. When act of righteous is done in order to gain applause or honor from man, then you have received the applause of man, so, there isn't any record in heaven, because you can't get two receipts for the same work you do. Doing good work for reward from man is a huge temptation for all people, including some leaders in God's church. Position, title, special honor and fame are poisonous to Christian servants big and small. For pastors to wear an academic robe on the pulpit, for people to print their name cards with titles of elder, deacon or other honorary position is a subtle way of glory and honor seeking from man, and that is what Jesus has warned us not to do.
BASIC GUIDELINES IN GOOD WORK: (Matt 6:3-4)
1) Good work with good intention: ˇ°But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.ˇ± (6:3) How can we do things with one hand and not let the other hand know? We know that both our hands are in one body and it is impossible to use one hand and not allow the other hand know. God isn't asking us to do something that is impossible to do. But he was asking us to do good deeds with utmost humility and good intention. We certainly don't want to publicize our good work by announcing it with trumpet to draw attention to ourselves. It is never easy to do good work and to be humble at the same time. That is why God asks us to keep all good work done in secret, so, we won't be drawing attention from anyone.
2) Good work done in secret: ˇ°So that your giving may be in secret.ˇ± (6:3) In secret doesn't mean something shameful that need to be kept in secret. Secret here means ˇ°not in the public.ˇ± Doing good work never needs to be done in public, for the public to know or to admire. ˇ°Secretˇ± is better translated as ˇ°keep it out of the public eyes.ˇ± There is no need to promote the self on good works, and it needs to be very serious and cordial, not to show superiority than others. People in the world crave for praises, honor, recognition and respect from others for good things they do. If we do good work for others, we do it for the Lord and no one else needs to know. I admire all people who give, but I admire more those who give anonymously without giving their names. This is a better way because there is no need for others to know.
3) Good work will bring rewards: ˇ°Then your Father who sees what was done in secret, will reward you.ˇ± (6:4) Good work should not be done for the purpose of receiving rewards, be it from man or from God. Good work should be done because it is good work, and it is God's command. God is omniscience, that he knows everything we do, good or bad. Our God is also righteous that he won't allow good word done without proper reward and bad work without proper punishment. Giving to God, to the church and the poor, with good intention won't skip God's watching eyes. As he promised in Malachi 3:10, that he will ˇ°open the floodgate and pour his blessings over and above measure in our lap that we won't have enough room to keep his blessings.ˇ± That is reward in God's eyes.
1) Do good like the poor widow: ˇ°A poor widow came and put in two very small coins, worth only a friction of a penny...Out of her poverty, put in all she had to live on.ˇ± (Mark 12:42, 44) This is truly the best of good work: She gives to God, and she gives all she has. Most of us, if not all of us, give what we can ˇ°afterˇ± we have enough for our needs, but that is not what God wants us to do. God wants us to set-aside the ˇ°tithesˇ± before we keep all for our own needs. God didn't ask that we ˇ°give him allˇ± we have, but this poor widow did just that. Can you imagine the volume of love and faith this widow must have to do such a tremendous good work? That is why this little widow caught the attention of Jesus without her knowing. We need to give to God first and foremost by faith that God will provide our needs. That is good work with good intention.
2) Do good like the Samaritan: ˇ°A Samaritan traveled, came where the man was, and he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on him oil and wine, and he put the man non his donkey took him to an inn and took care of him.ˇ± (Luke 10:33-34) Today, April 18, Catholic Pope Francis gave an Easter message about the need to care and help the poor, the needy, the defenseless and the outcast. This is a wake-up call to all God's people to pay attention to the poor and the needy among us, both materially and emotionally. Historically, Christians are the most generous among other religions, in giving and caring for the poor and the lower class. God has good reason to give us more than enough for our own needs. We need to open your eyes to see the needs of others, open our hearts to feel the compassion, and also open our hands to give help to these least among us. The Lord said: If we do good work to the least among us, we do it to him. (Matt 25:45)