• Matt Beaney

#347 – BE CAREFUL (11/5/21)


On Sunday we continued with our series on discipleship from The Sermon on the Mount. This week we are looking at Jesus’ teaching regarding generosity that’s pleasing to the Father.

“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.” (Matthew 6:1)

Jesus has taught us to ‘be careful’ in our practice of ‘righteousness’. Previously, Jesus had said,

‘For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.’ (Matthew 5:20)

True righteousness - that which pleases and is rewarded by God - is motivated by love for the Father. The religious teachers of Jesus' day may have put on a good show, but too often they were self-serving rather than serving God as Father.

We are to ‘practice our righteousness’; as disciples, we are to learn from Jesus and do what He teaches. He gives us three examples of the kind of righteous acts we are to perform: giving (6:1-4), prayer (6:5-14) and fasting (6:16-18). However, he begins by giving us this injunction: “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them…”


This is a danger that all of us can gradually veer into. We become enraged because we haven’t been recognised as we feel we deserve. We fail to share something because we don’t trust ourselves to put on a good enough performance - we may embarrass ourselves!


Habitual, loveless devotion is also putting on a show: we can wake up in the middle of a worship service having been daydreaming about something that is completely unimportant compared to the act of being in God’s presence! We can become annoyed that we are giving up another evening to go to Community Group because we’ve failed to remember that the Father is present and loves these people you’re with! We can rush through a prayer-list not realising that God is not interested that you feel better because you’ve fulfilled your obligation!


RESPONSE

Our service for God will be healthy when we know Him as Father and keep bringing our hearts before Him. Our financial giving as well as our personal and public service must be done for God. Jesus is warning us to be alert against falling into cold habit, fulfilling an obligation, self- glorification, appeasing our consciences… Let’s “Be careful”!


A helpful book on biblical generosity is,

The Treasure Principle: Unlocking the Secret of Joyful Giving ...by Randy Alcorn.




COMMUNITY GROUP STUDY - USE MONEY LIKE GOD IS YOUR FATHER

Notices

It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.


Suggested opener/Ice-breaker

Have you had any experience of someone giving you an unexpected gift?


Recap of Sunday's message - please share in your group

On Sunday we continued with our series on discipleship from The Sermon on the Mount. This week we are looking at Jesus’ teaching regarding generosity that’s pleasing to the Father.

“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." (Matthew 6:1-2)

Jesus warns us to be "Be careful". Like the religious leaders in Jesus' day, our spiritual lives can become external - for a show.


Throughout this chapter, we see that the truly righteous person relates to God as Father. ‘Father’ (Patér) is used 12 times in chapter 6. Healthy Christians know God as a Father. Knowing God as Father give us a healthy relationship to giving (6:1-4), prayer (6:5-14), fasting (6:16-18), storing ‘treasure’ (6:19-24) and fear (6:25-34).


I love the often overlooked but profound truth that our praying is to address God as “our Father…” What a difference it would make if we simply followed Jesus’ model of addressing God!


Lloyd-Jones wrote,

‘The theme of this section of the Sermon on the Mount is, you remember, the relationship of the Christian to God as his Father. There is nothing more important than this. The great secret of life according to our Lord is to see ourselves and to conceive of ourselves always as children of our heavenly Father. If only we do that we shall be delivered immediately from two of the main temptations (Pride and fear) that attack us all in this life.’

Knowing God as Father transforms the way that we give. Through knowing His love and power, we are released into generosity.

“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 honoured by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 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. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:2-4)

Jesus is teaching us that our giving is to be in love and obedience to the Father. We are to give in response to His love and revealed will. In so doing there is great reward.


Discussion questions

1. Did God speak to you about anything in particular from Sunday's message or the blogs this week?

2. How often do you reflect on God being your Father and how does this affect your life?

3. How does knowing God as Father free us to be generous?

4. Jesus promises that the Father will reward those who give out of genuine love. What do you think these rewards are?

5. Have you learned any lessons about giving that might help others in the group?



Serving, Investing and inviting

1) Have you got any encouraging stories of serving, investing and inviting that you'd like to share?

2) Who has God put into your life that we could pray for together?

2) How are you planning to serve invest and invite?




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