Beware. Be careful. Watch out! Jesus starts out this part of the sermon with a warning, and for a good reason. In chapter 6 we begin to shift from the more communal and outward aspects of discipleship to actions that are to be kept in secret such as prayer, fasting, and giving. These actions do not necessarily have to be kept a secret from everyone, but it is vital that they are done humbly otherwise they may do more harm than good. As a disciple of Christ it is important to check your motives for acting, and to be honest. Humility is a key component of following Christ, and can be one of the most challenging aspects to achieve.
In these first few verses of chapter 6 Jesus warns us not to give so as to be seen by others. This can be so difficult to do. There is such a great temptation to be seen and praised for doing good works. When we give our time, finances, or lives to others we want to be recognized. If this is our sole purpose for serving or helping others we are majorly confused as to what it means to follow Christ.
I personally wrestle with this issue of acting humbly nearly every day. Daily I check my motives and reasons for my actions. Why am I doing what I am doing? Is it for my glory or for God’s? If the actions are performed for my satisfaction and glory then an important question arises; who is God? Take some time to consider this question, and to reflect upon your own life and journey with Christ.
As I have mentioned above, I struggle with humility at times, acting purely out of compassion and desire to please God, rather than for my own satisfaction. In giving of time and money another temptation appears; the temptation to believe the lies that the enemy puts in our minds. There have been moments in my life where I was serving at a place and I started to think that my motives were all wrong. Little lies started to enter my brain causing me to think that I was doing everything for myself. It was such a confusing time for me, and I began to question everything I was doing. Eventually I came to the realization that I just needed to focus on Christ. If I fully committed myself to following after him then I could know that I was giving to bring God glory. The closer you grow to Christ the more genuine and compassionate your actions become. As you deepen your relationship with him you begin acting more and more like him, serving out of love and to bring God glory. This takes patience and persistence, as does every aspect of walking with Christ. Be encouraged and push through times of failure and hardship.
Lastly, I would like to encourage you to give. If you currently are not giving financially or giving your time you should consider how you could do this in your life. Giving is a vital part of the Christian life, and is something that we all need to work on. It is such as difficult thing to accomplish because giving means sacrificing what is yours for the sake of others. It is hard to fully have faith and trust in God if you are unwilling to make sacrifices. When you give you have to rely on God’s grace and mercy, and once you experience this you won’t want to live any other way. Think about some ways you can start giving. Take adequate time to pray about this, and consider your motives. In all, remember that you are living for God’s glory. Our lives are to be an act of worship.
As you continue to reflect upon these ideas we have studied in the Sermon on the Mount, pray that God would transform your heart and mind. Ask God to fill you with His Spirit so that you may honor him with your life. Go back and look over the Beatitudes and other sections of chapter 5 and reflect on your progress so far. Remember to be patient and persistent, practicing humility as you journey through life.