Faithlife Sermons

Look Ma'! No Hands!

Matthew  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings
· 2 views

Jesus emphasizes for his followers that their confidence comes from living under the loving, intimate, watchful gaze of their Heavenly Father.

Notes
Transcript
Sermon Tone Analysis
A
D
F
J
S
Emotion
A
C
T
Language
O
C
E
A
E
Social
View more →

Introduction

Matthew 6:1–18 ESV
“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. “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. “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Matthew 6:1–34 ESV
“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. “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. “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
I am admittedly dating myself with this sermon title. When I was a kid, and you learned to ride a bike, the next thing you wanted to learn how to do is to take your hands off of the handle bars and stay upright. You wanted to ride hands free. And you would practice and practice this until you got it down. Of course, once you got it down, you didn’t want to keep this new skill to yourself. At the first opportunity you got, you’d go call your mom or your dad. “Mom! Dad! Come outside! I need to show you something!” Mom or Dad comes out to see what you’re carrying on about. With a big smile on your face, you get on the bike, start riding, and then take your hands off the handle bars. “Look at me!”
I am admittedly dating myself with this sermon title. When I was a kid, and you learned to ride a bike, the next thing you wanted to learn how to do is to take your hands off of the handle bars and stay upright. You wanted to ride hands free. And you would practice and practice this until you got it down. Of course, once you got it down, you didn’t want to keep this new skill to yourself. At the first opportunity you got, you’d go call your mom or your dad. “Mom! Dad! Come outside! I need to show you something!” Mom or Dad comes out to see what you’re carrying on about. With a big smile on your face, you get on the bike, start riding, and then take your hands off the handle bars. “Look at me!”
Now, you may never have said, “Look Ma! No Hands!” But I have no doubt that every child in here and every adult in here has at some point in their lives said to someone who mattered to them (a parent, a teacher, a boss), “Watch this!” “Come and see what I can do!” “Come and see what I’ve accomplished!” And if you’re a parent, it puts as big smile on your face when your child accomplishes something. When I would show my parents what I could do, they wouldn’t say to me, “What is it now? I don’t care if you’ve learned something new. I’m not interested.” No! Parents say, “Show me!” Then they give their children a high five, a hug, and say, “Great job!” “I’m so proud of you!” “I knew you could do it!”
Why do children do that? Why do we say, “Watch me!” We do it because there’s almost no point in the accomplishment if nobody notices. We want people to notice because we want to be recognized for our accomplishments. We want to be valued for the things we’re able to do. We want to be rewarded. “Look Ma! No hands!” We like to hear people say to us, “Good job.” Why do parents enjoy affirming their children when they’ve accomplished something? Why do effective leaders recognize and affirm the people they’re leading when they have accomplished something significant? It’s because we know that it’s important to notice people when they’ve done well. It’s important to our sense of value, dignity, and worth to hear someone say, “Good job.” “Well done.” This need and desire for affirmation is a part of being human. It is not a warp in our make-up. It is not because we’re just self-centered people and can’t do without someone boosting our ego.
Within Christianity we can tend toward two poles. We can tend toward one pole that says, “I’m just a wretch of a person. I’m a wicked, guilty sinner, who doesn’t deserve anything good from God. I have to make sure that I always remember how really bad I am. That way I won’t become self-centered.” The other pole we can tend toward says, “Because of Jesus, I’m the head and not the tail. Y’all better recognize that I deserve to be on top because I’m blessed and highly favored.”
When we turn to Jesus, however, we find out that he is extraordinarily consistent. There is some truth in each pole, but neither grasps the heart of what Jesus is teaching his disciples in our text. Jesus mentions reward, or getting paid, seven times in the first 18 verses of this chapter. This passage kicks off with a warning, so it’s not surprising that four of those seven instances are negative. “Be careful,” he says in v. 1, “not to practice your righteousness before others in order to be noticed by them. Otherwise, you have no reward with your Father in heaven.” Righteousness matters. But three times Jesus says to them, “Your Heavenly Father will reward you.” Jesus doesn’t say, “don’t practice righteousness.” But Jesus also doesn’t say, “don’t think about being rewarded.” He doesn’t say here, “just think of yourself as an ungrateful sinner who’s just doing his duty.” He says, “Your Father sees in secret. Your Father sees into the secret place of your heart. He’s your audience. And he does delight to reward his children.” So, what you’ve got to watch out for is why you’re doing what you’re doing.
Jesus gives this warning and then gets practical with three primary examples of what it means to practice our righteousness rightly. We’re going to talk about Sacrifice, Supplication, and Satisfaction. Jesus is extraordinarily consistent. Remember the bookend verses that I told you about last time in 5:20 and 5:48. Jesus said in 5:20, “For I tell you truly that unless your righteousness far surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Then, in the last verse of ch. 5, he says, “Therefore, you must be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” What Jesus did in between those two statements is help his disciples to see that righteousness had to do with a heart condition. Righteousness wasn’t simply about external obedience to God’s law. It wasn’t about trying to write out volumes of detailed laws like the scribes and Pharisees had to rule out the possibility of anybody slipping up. It wasn’t even about being error free. So, the refrain from vv. 20-48 of chapter 5 was, “You heard that it was said…, but I say to you…” I need you to understand the heart of the law, so that you understand the heart of God, so that you are fully aware of your need for him to work in your heart to create a Spirit empowered obedience. So that you learn to love like God loves, to forgive like God forgives, to be peacemakers the way God makes peace with us.
Now he says, “Be careful.” As you are living out this righteousness in practice, be careful that you’re not doing it to show other people how righteous you are. Jesus knows that even when we want to do the right thing, we’re tempted to do the right thing so that we can receive accolades from other people. Even though the desire to be valued by others is not of itself wrong or sinful, it is infected by the sinful desire to only be doing it for ourselves. When we say, “Look at me!” “Look what I did!” Look what I can do!” we’re not normally saying, “Praise the Lord with me for what he’s done!”
I’m going to get to our three S’s and move through them quickly, but I need us to see something here. The motive for practicing righteousness, doing the right thing, living for God, must not be so that others will notice me for at least two reasons.
First, the issue with practicing our righteousness to be noticed by other people is that others don’t necessarily agree with what’s righteous and what’s not. Look back to the beatitudes in ch. 5:10-12, Jesus said
Matthew 5:10–12 ESV
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
The definition of righteousness, the definition of what it means to do the right thing comes from God and his word. That must at points inevitably rub up against the righteousness defined by society. And when the two clash, if your motive is to be noticed by others, you will not be able to withstand the onslaught. You will, in fact, be tempted to change the standard for righteousness in order to avoid the persecution.
The second reason our motive for doing the right thing must not be so that others will notice us is that it takes our focus off of our Heavenly Father. Jesus is doing a new thing here. It is very rare in the OT for God to be referred to as Father (; ). Pastor Dan Doriani makes the comment that,
To address God directly as “our Father” is new. Jewish writings stressed God’s transcendence, as Lord and Sovereign. “Father” suggests imminence. He is personal, approachable.
Here’s the point. Seventeen times in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus refers to God as “your,” or “our” Father. One continual drumbeat in the Gospel of Matther is the the kingdom of heaven. Another relevant drumbeat is that his people get to call God, “Father.” You might be so used to hearing God referred to as Father, so used to hearing and reciting the Lord’s Prayer, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name…” that you take for granted how radical it was and is to be able to know that the God of creation is your Heavenly Father. He is the perfection of everything good about fatherhood. He’s personal. He’s present. He’s loving. He protects and provides and encourages and comforts and guides his children. Practicing our righteousness to be seen by others takes our eyes off our loving Father.

Sacrifice

The first example Jesus gives on the contrast between practicing our righteousness with a wrong focus on being seen by others and with a proper focus of knowing that we’re always under the loving gaze of our Heavenly Father is with our sacrifice, with our giving. He’s particularly talking about giving to help those who are in need. He says in v. 2, “When you give to the needy, don’t sound a trumpet before you like the hypocrites do so that they can be glorified by others. Truly, I say to you, they’ve received their reward.” It sounds like he’s making a metaphor, but he’s not. They would have been able to picture in their minds a Pharisee making his way to the temple to put money in the giving box for the poor. The trumpeters would have been marching in front of him, blowing their horns, drawing attention to themselves. “Look at me! See my generosity.”
We think to ourselves, “How silly is that! How arrogant that is!” Let me ask you a question. When you give online to a charitable cause, and after you click the send button, and another button comes up that gives you the option to share on FB, what do you do? Do you click the share button because you want people to know that you just donated to Compassion International? My point is that it’s not just the wealthy folks who say, “I want to have my name engraved on the building I just built for this organization.” We’re all tempted in this way. How much would your charitable giving change if the government wasn’t acknowledging your gift in the form of a tax deduction?
Jesus says, “When you give to those in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” As John Stott rightly says, “The question is not so much what the hand is doing, but what the heart is thinking while the hand is doing it.” Are you looking for publicity? Are you looking for the awards and the honors?

Supplication

Jesus moves from sacrifice to supplication. He moves from giving to prayer. I really don’t have time to justice to what he says in vv. 5-15. We find the Lord’s Prayer in these verses, or what might better be called the Disciple’s Prayer.
Here’s the problem. He says, “You all must not be like the hypocrites when you pray.” In each of the three examples, giving (v. 2), praying (v.5), and fasting (v. 16), he calls out the hypocrites. He doesn’t name who he’s talking about, but if you read the rest of the gospel you’ll find out. He calls out the hypocrites in ch. 15, ch. 22, then seven times in ch. 23. Each of those times he’s talking about the scribes and the Pharisees. The hypocrites are pretenders. Here’s what it looks like to pretend at praying.
He says, “They love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.” Jesus isn’t saying, “I’m against praying in public. Don’t pray during the worship service.” He says, “They love to do it so that others can see them.” They want others to say, “Look at him! He’s so righteous. I wish I could pray like that.” The correction Jesus gives in v. 6 is that prayer, even when it is corporate and public, is always also intimate and private. Your loving Father is the audience for your prayers. “Go in your room, shut the door, and pray to your Father who is in secret,” emphasizes the intimacy of prayer. We know that Jesus isn’t saying don’t every stand and pray in public because, when he teaches the prayer in v. 8, the first words are “Our Father,” not “My Father.” All the pronouns in the prayer are corporate, not individual.
So, don’t be like the hypocrites. Understand the intimacy of prayer to your Father who is in secret and who sees in secret. Then, don’t be like the Gentiles. Don’t heap up empty phrases. They think they’ll be heard because of their many words. Where the scribes and Pharisess want to be seen by others, the Gentiles think that the more they babble, the more their gods will hear. They think that the more demonstrative they are, the more their gods will respond.
Folks think the same thing today. If my prayer isn’t loud, if my prayer isn’t full of emotion, if I’m not crying, if I’m not shouting, if I’m not groaning and moaning and sweating, God isn’t listing. My emotions manipulate God. There’s nothing wrong with emotions. Jesus isn’t saying, don’t be moved emotively when you pray. He’s not saying, don’t repeat yourself when you pray. In fact, what you will find in is Jesus praying in Gethsemane before his arrest and trial. He prays in v. 39, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” He comes to the disciples after praying and finds them sleeping. Then, in v. 42, he goes to pray for a second time. He comes back and finds them sleeping again. Then, he left them to pray again, and it says in v. 44, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again.
Jesus prayed the same prayer three times in one night. And he was very emotional. He said, “My soul is sorrowful, even to death.” He was emotional, he was repetitive, but he wasn’t that way in an attempt to manipulate his Father. His prayer there, just like the prayer he teaches his disciples here in ch. 6 is, “Your will be done.”

Satisfaction

Lastly he moves from supplication to satisfaction. From prayer to fasting in vv. 16-18. Prayer and fasting regularly go together in Scripture. And just like hypocrites pray publicly to be recognized, Jesus says hypocrites fast to be recognized. He says in v. 16, “they look gloomy, they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others.” “But when you fast,” notice he doesn’t say if you fast. He expects that his disciples will on occasion fast. When you do it, anoint your head and wash your face. Don’t walk around looking all hungry and complaining how hard this fast is, so that people will sympathize with you and think you’re so so pious and righteous. He says, act like everything is normal. Why? Because the point of fasting is to deny myself some physical or material desires and devote myself to prayer and confession and repentance as I fight against my own tendency to try and satisfy every desire. It is a period of time where I say my desire is to find all my satisfaction in my Heavenly Father. It is an application of Jesus’ words in 5:6, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
Listen, Sacrifice, Supplication, and Satisfaction, the point of these warnings and encouragements that Jesus gives his disciples is not to go and live an undercover life so that nobody knows who his disciples are. It is impossible to hide godliness. Godliness stands out. What did Jesus say in the last chapter? “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nobody lights a lamp and puts it under a basket. They put it on a stand and it gives light to the everyone 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.”
Jesus isn’t contradicting himself here and now saying, don’t let others see the light of my gospel shining through you. He says don’t be motivated by your ego. Don’t be motivated by your craving for attention and recognition. Your heavenly Father sees you. Your heavenly Father delights to reward you. He smiles when he sees the fruit of your life that is produced by a heart that he has changed. This is your confidence if you are a follower of Jesus Christ. You will hear the Father’s voice say, “Well done good and faithful servant”…Here’s the question. Where is it that you’re striving for recognition from other people? That you just want so badly to be acknowledged and recognized for what you’re doing to help? And you’re saying, these people don’t appreciate me!
Related Media
Related Sermons