mt pleasant church of the brethren north canton ohio








From the Pastor’s Desk

Pastor's Blog

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“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 ESV)

    In studying the Sermon on the Mount, as we are in our Sunday morning messages right now, Jesus really gets to the heart of the matter, discounting the value of mere appearances. He often uses hyperbole, or exaggerating a concept to make a point. That is clear when Jesus continues after what we see in verse 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.” That’s probably where we got the term, “tooting your own horn”.
    I’m not sure that those Jesus was speaking of actually blew trumpets announcing what they were doing, but they had other ways of bringing attention to themselves, and how good it was that they were kind enough to help someone else who was so poor and needy. I think that’s what is called “a humble brag”.
    Note that the issue here is not whether or not they were helping the needy. That is something very near and dear to God’s heart as we see elsewhere in Scripture. The issue is the motivation for the act. In verse one; Jesus identifies their motive as “in order to be seen by them [other people].” In verse two He warns those listening not to draw attention to yourself “as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and streets so that they may be praised by others”. The concern is doing things, even really good things, for the praise of other people, instead of doing them for the glory of God and our neighbor’s good. We need to help the needy; we need to be doing good things, “practicing righteousness” as it’s stated in verse 1, but for whom are we doing them?
    Jesus further uses hyperbole when He then says, “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.” I’m pretty sure my right hand will always be aware of what my left hand is doing, but you get the idea.
    In reality, as we see this chapter unfold, Jesus wasn’t just talking about helping the needy, but about how we live out our Christianity. He later mentions praying, and fasting. Both were acts that many of the religious leaders of that time did with great fanfare, hoping others would see what good people they were, and that surely God would honor their special actions with His favor.
    We can also contrast this with what Jesus says previously in chapter 5, verses 14-16. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (ESV)
    Perhaps the apostle Paul said it best in his letters to the church in Colossae and Ephesus. “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Col. 3:23-24 ESV) “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10 ESV)

By His Grace Alone,

Pastor Bruce Jacobsen




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