Monday, June 4, 2012

Serving the Poor #1: For an Audience of ONE

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.

And now . . . here we are in Matthew 6. I've been waiting to get to this chapter. It addresses all of these areas.

We just read 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 & who we're not, who God is& who He's 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've posted all about our bag sale at Aynesworth. Where 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 you 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)


  1. When Helping Hurts has done so much damage to the notion of giving. I really wish this book had not been written.

    Jesus makes no sermons about hurting the poor when giving to them. On the contrary, he tells the rich man to sell everything, give it to the poor, and them come follow.

    Jesus does not teach people to fish (for fish), he feeds 5000 fish for a day and comes back to do again for 4000. This stuff is not common sense; it is way above that. It does not make people "independent" or "self-sufficient"; it makes them community leaning on each other and sharing everything in common (ACTS 2).

    People are sheep. Sheep need shepherds. Jesus is the good shepherd that lays down his life for the sheep. This got him hurt. He did not survive it. He lost all dignity to do it. He is not interested in you keeping yours. He is interested in you losing your life to save it.

    When Helping Hurts finds proof texting ways around all this stuff and more. But you are not alone in your enthusiasm for it. It is taking the American Church by storm.

    I think it needs reassessed very badly. I hope you will consider that.


    1. Though we don't have to agree with everything written in this book, it certainly brings up thought provoking ideas as to how we care for, give to, and serve the poor. The reason He tells the rich man to sell everything is not really about the poor, it's about the idol in the rich man's heart: materialism. I'm struggling my way through it all, just as I hope all Christians will do. LORD, how do you want ME to serve the poor??

    2. Thank you for considering my comment. I will not beat a dead horse. If you want to disagree. But I appreciate you for the consideration. It is a start.

      I appreciate your humility too.