Wednesday, April 11, 2012, Part 3

"Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be secret; and your Father who sees in secret will himself reward you openly" (Matthew 6:2-4).

IDEA: The God of the Bible and the people of God demonstrated a commendable concern for the needy.

PURPOSE: To help listeners understand that Jesus assumes a concern for the poor.

If you were guessing, what area of the United States has the lowest per-person rate of giving to charitable and religious causes?

What conclusions might you draw from that?

I. Would you agree that how people take care of the needy in their community reflects their deepest values?

How do Americans contribute to the poor?

They do so through government welfare systems and through private charities and churches that benefit from tax laws. Is that wrong?

What are the strengths of our system? What are the weaknesses?

In the first century the poor and needy were cared for by both public and private contributions that were collected and distributed on a regular basis (Matthew 6:2).

Offerings for the poor were collected in synagogue services (as we do in churches). There was a well organized system of helping the needy that depended on contributions from members of the community.

There was a “tithe for the poor.” In fact, there were rabbinic regulations to prevent a man from impoverishing himself and his family by giving away over 20% of his income (R. T. France, p 235).

Special festival days presented further opportunities to help the poor.

II. Is Jesus objecting to this concern for the poor in the Sermon on the Mount?

God Himself protected the poor through the Law in legislation regarding harvests (Leviticus 19:9-10), with particular concern for widows and orphans (Deuteronomy 16:9-11, 14).

Concern for the needy is also reflected in the New Testament: James 1:27, Galatians 2:9-10.

III. What specifically does Jesus warn against in Matthew 6:2?