Intro: According to Scripture, hypocrisy is a sin. A hypocrite has a spirit of self-righteousness while looking down on others. Humbly remember we are all sinful a part from the salvation of Christ and the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit. As fallen human beings sometimes we notice other people’s sin and shortcomings before we notice the Holy Spirit convicting us of our own. The arrogance that rises up to make such judgments is a part of our own sinful nature. As Christians, we must grow more mature in this area. God is not impressed when we outwardly sound or appear holy if inwardly our hearts are actually profane.
Sometimes people think because they have been faithful church attendees for many years, they are somehow “holier” than others and can stand in a place of judgement. It is possible to look righteous on the outside and still be a hypocrite on the inside. Perfect attendance does not equal perfect piety. As Christ’s followers, we are to avoid hypocrisy. How do we do it? We are to put on love and look for ways to bless and honor God, as well as be a blessing to others; to love others the way Christ loves us (John 13:34). God is not impressed with appearances; He is impressed with self-sacrifice!
In our passage today, Jesus helps us understand how we can love one another without being hypocrites: We give because the Spirit of compassion draws us to help the needy, we fast and pray in the Spirit to draw near and make ourselves available to God, and we sow financial seeds into the work of the Kingdom to share the gospel as the Spirit draws others to Christ…all without drawing attention to ourselves. Our motives matter to God; selfishness does not earn eternal rewards. We do these things in secret, because we love God and know that he sees the Truth in our hearts.
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21, Teaching about Giving to the Needy
1 “Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. 2 When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. 3 But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. 4 Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
Teaching about Prayer and Fasting
5 “When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. 6 But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
16 “And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get. 17 But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. 18 Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
Teaching about Money and Possessions
19 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.
Prayer: Lord, during this Lenten season, let me reflect on the strength you displayed against sin while in the wilderness. Help me to approach this Lenten study with strength anew in your Spirit. Give me a humble and compassionate heart; to see others the way you see them and to offer them help in the power of your love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
NOTE: Hope to see you tonight at Bible Study (7PM). At the end of the study, I will offer the imposition of ashes for those interested.