Monday, April 09, 2018

Keys to the Kingdom – The Sermon on the Mount - 08 GENEROSITY

In this series we have chosen 15 essential factors for followers of Jesus, taken from the Sermon on the Mount. We call the series, “Keys to the Kingdom.”
Here they are:
Previous keys:
Attitude - 5:1-12
Influence - 5:13-16
Self-Control - 5:17-30
Faithfulness - 5:31-37
Response-Ability - 5:38-42
Love - 5:43-48
Today’s key: Generosity - 6:1-4
Remaining keys:
Prayer - 6:5-15
Self-Denial - 6:16-18
Investment - 6:19-24
Preoccupation - 6:25-34
Discernment - 7:1-12
Direction - 7:13-14
Obedience - 7:15-23
Action - 7:24-27
So today we are talking about generosity.
Let’s start with a proverb. You may want to write it down, because it’s not in the Bible. It does, however, describe the way we may be tempted to live. Ready? Here it is.
“Blessed is the man who tooteth his own horn, for yea, verily, verily, I say unto thee, he that tooteth not his own horn, verily it shall not be tooted.”
Here’s another. “I’ll toot your horn, and you toot mine. We can think of it as biblical – an I for an I and a toot for a toot!”
We may get kind of tired waiting for our horn to be tooted, so we go ahead and toot it. That’s exactly what Jesus described and prohibited in the Sermon on the Mount.
Reading: Matt 6:1-4
Mt 6:1 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. 2 “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. 3 “But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
What could ruin a righteous act like giving, praying, or fasting? Would God not always reward such deeds? According to Jesus, if the “why” is not right, the “what” does not count. If the aim is promoting self rather than glorifying God, one receives only the applause of men. Selfless generosity – giving when no one is looking – catches God’s eye and receives His blessing.
One Principle - 3 Applications
Mt 6:1 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.
3 Applications:
Giving - 6:1-5     Praying - 6:5-15                    Fasting - 6:16-18
In each case He knew and assumed that His disciples would do these things. He said “When,” not “If.” Jesus does not raise the question whether his followers will engage in these things but, assuming that they will, teaches them why and how to do so.
For others: give. To God: pray. For self: fast.
Jesus moves behind the “what” to the “why” and the “for whom.”
Stott: The three paragraphs follow an identical pattern. In vivid and deliberately humorous imagery Jesus paints a picture of the hypocrite’s way of being religious. It is the way of ostentation. Such receive the reward they want, the applause of men. With this he contrasts the Christian way, which is secret, and the only reward which Christians want, the blessing of God who is their heavenly Father and who sees in secret.
The What, the Why (Not), the How
Read and discuss each of these texts.
Mt 5:16 Let them see your good works and glorify your Father.
Mt 5:16 “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
In Mt 5:16 He confronts our cowardice. “Don’t hide your light. Let it shine.” Here He confronts our vanity. “Don’t seek the praise and applause of men.”
Stott: A. B. Bruce sums it up well when he writes that we are to ‘show when tempted to hide’ and ‘hide when tempted to show’.1 Our good works must be public so that our light shines; our religious devotions must be secret lest we boast about them.
What we tell about ourselves we lose, good or bad.
What we keep to ourselves we hold, good or bad.
Pr 27:2 Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger, and not your own lips.
Lk 18:11 “The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 ‘I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’
Mt 12:15-21 Jesus withdrew – and warned …
Mt 12:15 But Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. Many followed Him, and He healed them all, 16 and warned them not to tell who He was.
People often ask, “Why did Jesus prohibit others from telling who He was?” Here is one reason.
17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: 18 “Behold, My Servant whom I have chosen; My Beloved in whom My soul is well-pleased; I will put My Spirit upon Him, And He shall proclaim justice to the Gentiles. 19 “He will not quarrel, nor cry out; Nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets. 20 “A battered reed He will not break off, And a smoldering wick He will not put out, Until He leads justice to victory. 21 “And in His name the Gentiles will hope.”
Jesus “went about doing good” for the single purpose of bringing glory to the Father. Not to be noticed, appreciated, or rewarded by anyone here. That’s why the “social mirror” – how He looked to others – did not matter to Him.
1 Co 13:1-8 Deeds – love = nothing. Love does not brag, is not arrogant, does not seek its own …
1 Co 13:1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. 4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.
1 Co 1:14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one would say you were baptized in my name. 16 Now I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized any other.
Jn 5:44 Receive glory, but do not seek His glory.
Jn 12:42 Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.
Gal 1:10 Seeking favor of men, or of God?
See how long you can go without using the word “I.”
The Self, Social, or Spirit Mirror?
We often do what we do because of how we think it will appear to ourselves (self mirror), or to others (social mirror). What if we reject both of those and focus instead only on how God looks at us (Spirit mirror)?
Fill in the blank. Whoever or whatever you put there will determine everything – everything – in your life.
“How will it look to _______ if I buy this, wear that, go there, try that, don’t do that, drive that, date him, marry her, get a job there … ?”
Generosity Ignored by God
Why would God not honor our acts of charity?
“When you give.” Not “if,” but “how” and “why.”
Lit., “do mercy.” Cf. Ac 3:3; 10:2, 4
“The trumpet.” Fig?. Lit?. A vain publicity stunt.
The reward you seek is the only reward you get.
Not told how much is given.
Not even told to whom.
Generosity Rewarded by God
Even your other hand does not see or know!
Do not publicize to others or dwell on it yourself.
From self-congratulation to self-righteousness.
This leaves God as the only intended witness.
The reward? Knowing we have pleased Him.
The joy of anonymity.
What if others must know?
We Give According to Our …
Income and Ability
Faith, Hope, Love                 
Concern for Others’ Needs
Desire to Glorify God
Likeness To Christ
Gratitude for Grace
Planning, Spiritual Maturity
As these grow, our giving grows … naturally.
Here is a thought-provoking piece that so well describes the matter of quiet, secret service.
I Wonder – Ruth Harms Calkin
You know, Lord, how I serve You - With great emotional fervor - in the limelight.
You know how eagerly I speak for You - at a women’s club.
You know how I shine when I promote - a fellowship group.
You know my genuine enthusiasm - at a Bible study.
But how would I react, I wonder, If You pointed to a basin of water
And asked me to wash the calloused feet - Of a bent and wrinkled old woman,
Day after day, Month after month, In a room where nobody saw
And nobody knew.
Reflecting our Savior’s Generosity
Of course, all that we give reflects the generosity of the Savior who gave it all for us.
2 Co 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.
Here’s an old hymn that notes the connection between His generosity and ours:
I Gave My Life for Thee | Frances R. Havergal
I gave My life for thee,
My precious blood I shed,
That thou might ransomed be,
And raised up from the dead;
I gave, I gave My life for thee,
What hast thou giv’n for Me?
I gave, I gave My life for thee,
What hast thou giv’n for Me?
My Father’s house of light,
My glory-circled throne
I left for earthly night,
For wand’rings sad and lone;
I left, I left it all for thee,
Hast thou left aught for Me?
I left, I left it all for thee,
Hast thou left aught for Me?
I suffered much for thee,
More than thy tongue can tell,
Of bitt’rest agony,
To rescue thee from hell;
I’ve borne, I’ve borne it all for thee,
What hast thou borne for Me?
I’ve borne, I’ve borne it all for thee,
What hast thou borne for Me?
And I have brought to thee,
Down from My home above,
Salvation full and free,
My pardon and My love;
I bring, I bring rich gifts to thee,
What hast thou brought to Me?
I bring, I bring rich gifts to thee,
What hast thou brought to Me?
Possible hymns:
I Gave My Life for Thee
Take My Life, and Let it Be
The Way that He Loves
Living for Jesus
Into the Heart of Jesus

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