August 16, 2016 by maryruwe
Looking back over our lives my guess is that most of us can remember saying, “if I’d only….. Usually that means we think if we had made a different decision our life would be better now. That may or may not be, but one thing is for sure, we’ve all learned that we cannot turn the clock back and re-make those decisions. However, we can move forward from this day and determine to purposely make better decisions. The best way to make better decisions is to live by the Principles and Commandments of the Bible.
As I was reading in Matthew chapter six I saw the word “when” repeated several times. As I meditated on these Scriptures, I decided that many things we deal with in life are not a matter of “if” but of “when”. It’s not a matter of “if” we are going to eat but “when”. It’s not a matter of “if” we are going to pay our bills but “when”. As I look closer at the Scriptures in Matthew six where Jesus was teaching, I see that it should not be a question of IF we give, IF we pray, IF we fast, but WHEN should we do these things and more importantly of how we should to do them in connection with our motive for doing them.
Matthew 6:1-2 – Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds (giving) before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 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.
Now this is talking about our monetary giving of tithes and offerings, and giving to the poor but it can also apply to other good deeds of helping others. Other translations use the terms righteousness, alms, good deeds, good works, and even piety-meaning religious duty. But the real topic in discussion here is NOT the kind of deeds themselves but the motive of why a person is doing them. If we are doing good deeds so others will compliment us, acknowledge us, and praise us for those good works then we are guilty of taking praise that belongs to God our Father. Colossians 3:23 teaches us that whatever we do, it is to be done as unto God and not men. Ephesians 6:6-7 tells us that we are to do the will of God from the heart; as to the Lord, and not to men.
Now after saying all this I don’t want anyone confused or guilty if someone sees you doing an act of kindness for another or give a charitable offering. A good portion of the time there probably is someone who sees us. The point to be made clear is the motive of our heart for doing these deeds.
Another topic of “when” has to do with prayer. It’s not “if” we pray but “when” we pray.
Matthew 6:5-7 When you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.
A couple of things to point out: we are NOT to pray with the attitude of drawing attention to ourselves or having an outward pretense of caring for others, or by using vain repetitions and many words that we don’t mean from our heart. That is hypocritical. Neither are we to always be telling others about our prayer time with a hidden motive to gain praise of others. We need to make sure our heart is humble before God concerning our prayer time with Him; giving Him reverence and honor that He deserves and not exalt ourselves.
Again, after saying that, we also need to recognize that there are times we ARE to pray openly with others – for others, and for them to pray with us. It’s the heart motive of why we are praying that’s important – to bring attention to ourselves – or to help others receive their needs met from a loving Heavenly Father and bring glory to Him.
Now for the final “when” in this discussion: the topic of fasting.
Matthew 6:16-18 When you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place: and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
The idea here is to NOT bring attention to ourselves; not go around mourning when we are doing without. Usually its food that one fasts but it can be other things, even abstaining from watching TV. I know some who could put down the computer games and spend the time in fellowship with Jesus. It has more to do with the reason and motive for fasting. Being downcast with a mourning and grieving attitude only brings attention to us and keeps our focus off of God’s Word.
Did you notice in verses 4, 6, and 18 that God sees what we do in secret and that HE rewards us openly? So don’t be concerned whether or not others see you do good deeds, or whether you think you are getting rewarded. It’s the pleasing of our Heavenly Father that is important; leave the rewarding up to Him.
This week we have learned or been reminded of three things:
- It’s not IF we give, pray or fast but WHEN we give pray and fast. I do believe God expects us to do all three.
- Our giving, praying and fasting are not always to be seen by others to bring attention to ourselves or to seek rewards from men.
- Whatever we do, including giving, praying, and fasting, we are to do with a right motive to please God. It is then He will reward us openly.
My prayer this week is that we will seek God’s face for direction to improving our giving, praying, and fasting.
HAVE A WONDERFUL WEEK. SEE YOU NEXT TIME.