The following are my Bible study notes based on a sermon from my pastor Jeff Crook at Blackshear Place Baptist Church.
Check Your Motive When You Give, Pray, and Fast
Our primary passage is Matthew 6:1-8,16-18
Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. Matthew 6:1-8
Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:16-18
When we give, when we fast, and when we pray, we need to check our motives. There is a wrong reason to give, pray, and fast. That would be if our reason for those things is only to be seen by others. It is wrong to give, pray, and fast for the sake of self-promotion.
Points to Ponder
- Check your motive when you give.
When we give, are we looking for praise from people or from God?
But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Matthew 6:3
Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God. John 12:42-43
Be an active giver.
Be an anonymous giver.
Don’t seek recognition.
Don’t rehearse in our minds over and over again about what we gave or did so that we seek to build ourselves up.
When we give in the right spirit, we can expect to be rewarded – but don’t give for the sole purpose of getting reward.
- Private Prayer vs. Public Prayer
The Bible tells us to pray in a secret room.
But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:6
It’s not wrong to pray in public. It’s not wrong to pray in a small group of friends. It’s not wrong to pray aloud with another person. It is wrong when the purpose of those prayers is to look good in front of other people.
We’ve come to the end of my sermon notes but I would like to add that some of my most heartfelt prayers . . . some of my sweetest times in prayer with the Lord . . . were the times I poured my heart out to Him in secret.
The Bible tells us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17) . . . but let’s check our motives when we pray, when we give, and when we fast.
The photo credit for the main (top) image in this post goes to Freely Photos.