Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

2688 North Park Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
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Midweek Lent 1 – Mar. 1, 2012 – Honoring God in Repentant Charity

MIDWEEK LENT 1 – March 1, 2012 – Matt. 6:1-4

 “HONORING GOD IN REPENTANT CHARITY”

Introduction:  Grace be to you and peace, from God our Father, and from our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.  Our text is the Scripture Reading, Matt. 6:1-4.  We begin with prayer.

Dear fellow disciples of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ:

  •  I suppose it is reasonable to ask why Jesus would be so concerned about “motivation” and hypocrisy in our “acts of kindness and charity.”  I mean, so long as the deed is good and benefits others, why should we be concerned about the motive?
  •  The answer to this is not all that difficult – as we’ve all seen people who are obviously “doing good deeds” to elevate themselves, to curry favor and honor, and to be able to “crow” about how good, or important, or pious, or intelligent, or powerful, or “caring about other people” they are.  In the latter, when it is evident that they are really only “caring” about themselves, this is repulsive hypocrisy!  It simply turns our stomachs, since this cannot be love but is really selfishness and self-aggrandizement.  And sometimes, we don’t realize that this was their real motivation until they begin bragging about themselves after the fact – to gain even greater self-inflation from their current audience.
  • Should the Lord Jesus, God Who is love, not be offended and deeply concerned about this – not only for the sake of other people, those offended, but even more importantly for the sake of the individual involved in such grotesque hypocrisy and charade?  Yes, He is concerned about us, about our hearts, and that means He is concerned about our motivations – the selfish, prideful, and destructive aspects of our sinful nature.
  • So these words of the Lord Jesus provide us with grave warning:

“Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.

. . .  you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.”

  • The truth of the matter is that:

 I.  Charity And Good Works Can Actually Be Grossly Evil, Spiritually Destructive, And Damnable Rebellion Against God

Text:  “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.”

Statement:

  • It is obvious that this kind of hypocrisy is displeasing to God – He loves honesty, integrity, and genuine love, and He hates lying, deceiving, pride, arrogance, and selfishness.

Application:

  • So we must understand that such perverse “ulterior motives” make even good behavior into something that is grossly evil and despicable to God.  And worse, it corrupts and perverts our hearts, inculcating a pathetic and damnable self-righteousness that exalts US rather than giving honor, glory, and praise to God.  It is just the opposite of letting “your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and GIVE GLORY TO YOUR FATHER IN HEAVEN.”  Rather, the goal is bring glory and praise to ourselves.
  • For this great wickedness and evil within us we must turn to God in humble repentance – begging for His gracious mercy and forgiveness!  It is a great evil that denies our great sinfulness and rejects what Christ has done for us, and rejects our need for God’s mercy!
  • Those who behave this way are yet to be truly converted and regenerated, are yet to know and believe in Christ Jesus!
  • But those who turn to God in such humble repentance will indeed receive His gracious forgiveness and mercy, for this is precisely what Christ has accomplished for us as “the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world.”

Transition:  And it is only those thus humbled and repentant who can engage in real and genuine acts of charity which truly honor God, for:

II.  Repentant And Faithful Charity Is Quite Painful

           A.  It Is Quite Selfless – Drawing No Attention And Yielding  Absolutely No Self-Glory

Text:  “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.”

           B.  Further, It Is Quite Selfless In That There Can Be No Sense  Of  Inner Commendation

Text:  “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.”

           C.  Rather, That Which Is Truly Charitable And Honoring Of  God Is Done Only To Love God, Seeking No Other Reward

Text:  “And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

Statement:

  • And that is reward enough – that our loving Heavenly Father, Who sent His own beloved Son to be our Savior, to grant us eternal life and salvation, is willing to receive and acknowledge our love for Him in what we do “truly” for the sake of others, out of real and genuine love, with no hope of sinful reward!

Application:

  • But this is horribly difficult and painful, for we are not accustomed to doing anything without first considering how it will benefit or please us!  And remember – as soon as you have let the cat out of the bag, and made your “charity” public, you have betrayed your selfish and egotistical hypocrisy, so that “you have already received your reward.”
  • So again, the realization of the inherent power and pervasiveness of our own sinful selfishness should drive us to utter repentance and humility.  In fact, we must despair of ever thinking that we have done some perfectly pure and good work – for our sinful ulterior motives are always lurking in the background!
  • But as we turn to God in such repentance, He is sure to comfort us with the assurance of His gracious mercy, forgiveness, and love – so that we come to recognize that even though “our righteousnesses are as filthy rags,” still “the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”  But this, only as we “walk in the light as He is in the light,” that is, with absolute truthfulness and integrity and confession.  But if we do this, then we will never be “practicing our righteousness before other people in order to be praised by them” – but will recognize the disgusting and ridiculous absurdity of this!

Conclusion:

  • This is the only way that we can be cured of our sinful selfishness, pride, and arrogance – and our hypocritical “using” of the poor, those downtrodden people who stand in need of our genuine love and charity, for our own evil and egotistical purposes.
  • Surely we can understand God’s concern in all of this, His great concern for our hearts – and so He has provided us with this Word, that we might be weaned away from this sin and to true and genuine love, by receiving His love, mercy, and forgiveness in Christ Jesus.
  • God grant that we heed His warning, and rejoice in His forgiveness, that we may truly be “HONORING GOD IN REPENTANT CHARITY,” real and genuine love.  Amen.

Votum:  And the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in the true faith, which is in Christ Jesus, even unto life everlasting, Amen.