The Promise and Warning about Giving

Notes for March 2-3
Matthew 6:1-4    

Biblical Background

  • The Three components of Jewish Piety:  In 1st century Judaism, prayer, fasting and giving were the three foundational ways that one could express one’s pursuit of God and desire to serve others.  Jesus takes these three spiritual practices or habits and gets to the root of their motivation while at the same time encouraging his followers to continue practicing these important means of loving God and neighbor.

  • Rewards and Spiritual Habits:  Jesus confirms the teachings of the Old Testament that encourage prayer, fasting and giving to the poor – recognizing that the while God may reward these practices in both earthly and heavenly ways, the reward is not the reason for doing them.

  • Jewish vs. Greek giving:  In pagan Greek circles, giving wasn’t done for the purpose of charity or out of the idea of loving your neighbor, rather giving was done as a means for promoting one’s agenda politically, buying favors or getting in good with the gods. Thus, giving was done publicly in a way to call attention to one’s self.  This is in opposition to Jewish teaching which Jesus affirms and then takes to an even deeper level.

  •   Trumpets:  These were used in public parades and other ceremonies to call attention to the fact that a dignitary was arriving.  This image of calling attention to oneself is used by Jesus to magnify the issue.

Discussion Questions

  1. What does it mean to practice one’s righteousness?  Is this a good or bad thing? Why or why not?

  2. What is the key principle that Jesus is introducing in verse 1?

  3. Who is the person that sees our acts of righteousness and has the power to reward us for them?

  4. How does knowing that God sees all (both our sin and our acts of righteousness) impact the way in which we live our lives? 

  5. Why is it important to know the character and nature of God when discussing good deeds, righteousness and things like this?

  6. Notice that Jesus describes God as our Father in this passage.  What is important about that?

  7. What warning does Jesus give in regards to doing good deeds or “acts of righteousness”?

  8. What is a hypocrite?  Share some examples without attacking anyone.

  9. Why do we like to be praised for our good deeds and giving? 

  10. Why do some churches put up memorial plaques in people’s honor for giving money to the church?  Should they do this or not according to this passage of Scripture?

  11. What warning does Jesus give about giving?

  12. How do these warnings impact the way you think about your good deeds or giving to the poor? How do these warnings change the way that you practice good deeds and give?

  13. Where does our reward come from when we give in secret? How does this compare to the rewards we receive when giving publicly for others to see?

  14. Are there appropriate times to give publicly? If so, explain giving biblical precedent.

  15. Watch the video: “Rock Pointe: A Church Giving Beyond Its Resources” and discuss.