New Testament Journey – Day 18. Matthew 6 1-4. Jesus Teaches About Giving to the Needy.
These 4 verses warn about people who perform good acts for appearances only. Not out of compassion or other good motives. Their actions may be good, but their motives are shallow. These empty actions will be their only reward – the little bit of attention they get here on this earth. But when you give from a heart that loves God and loves his children, when you give from a place of sincere compassion, you are storing up treasures in heaven.
Some people take this verse as an opportunity to condemn those who are doing good and it’s been made known. Here’s my take on this.. God knows a person’s heart. You know your heart. You have to ask yourself, would I still do this if no one was watching? Most of us can spot attention seeking a mile off. But sometimes, jealousy and envy can make the lines a bit blurred. I want to share with you this… because I do believe there is a time and place to share – when Jesus is the one being glorified.
When I moved to the Cincinnati area a few years ago, God lead me to a church. When I first walked in those doors, I was not someone who would have witnessed to strangers boldly. I definitely wouldn’t have prayed with people in public. I gave, but not radically. But all that changed for me… I sat under Pastor Darlene who would sometimes share stories of how she reached out to a random stranger, started talking to them and God would lay it on her heart to bless them. She spoke of giving away a bible on an airplane to the woman who sat next to her. A bible that she had cherished – it had years of personal hand writing in it and meant a lot to her – and God said “Give it to this woman”. Don’t get her address and send her one – give her YOURS. And she did. Simple obedience – the lesson of faith – the lesson that we should never get so attached to earthly things that we lose being eternity minded and winning others to Christ so they can walk in freedom. When I heard that story, I didn’t think “Oh look at her trying to get attention” – not at all – I knew her heart. I knew God had her share that story to reach someone just like me – to challenge me to be obedient – to move when God says move to give. As I listened to Jason and Lawrence give messages about BIG FAITH – as they took us out to the streets with Cheeseburgers and Jesus and we went door to door handing out cheeseburgers and loving on others, praying with them, watching them be set free – that’s where I learned to be bold in my Faith – by their example and encouragement. Think about it this way, young children would never want to fly to the moon if they didn’t know they could. If they hadn’t watched the rockets take off and go. Their fire and hunger for the Lord – stirred a fire in my soul.
When I speak at a women’s event, if I share an experience I’ve had – I like to call them “God moments” where he moves me outside of my comfort zone to stop a stranger and speak with them, and give them hope – or to move and provide for a need. I always try to preface it with “This isn’t about me. It’s about the Jesus in me.” I saw what hearing Darlene’s stories did to me. It set me on fire with a desire to be that close to the Holy Spirit that we were walking hand in hand. That God would give me a heart like Jesus and I would move when He said move. The thing is – it’s the SAME Jesus that you have on the inside of you! The same Holy Spirit that will urge you to move and to act and if you are obedient enough to follow His urging, you too can have this type of experience. You too can be on fire for the Kingdom.” My stories are always meant to point others to Jesus – to the power of the Holy Spirit – in the same manner in which I was challenged and shown by example.
When my mom died there was a long line of people on a cold October night that filed through to shake our hands for over 4 hours. I had no idea my mom knew or had touched that many lives. But yet we heard story after story of things done humbly, in secret, in the name of Jesus. I was more proud of mother hearing those stories, than if she had been a famous household name. A bit after she died I picked up a book she had given me a few years before – when I wasn’t in a good place. I read the prayer she wrote in there – “Give my daughter a holy boldness to reach others”. So yeah, I think her prayers lead me to that church where I learned to have such a holy boldness.
Often times people want to gauge the size of audience they will have before they move. I want to throw out a gentle reminder here – God does not base success on numbers – it’s simply on obedience. Sometimes He will send us only 1 or 3 – how will your heart be? Will you be disappointed, or glad you had the opportunity to hold the event you hoped would draw 100, but only 10 came. Jesus left the 99 to go after the 1. Sweet Simple Obedience out of a place of love for others. When I lived in Cincinnati I used to stop at a Dunkin Donuts most mornings and often I would pay for the person behind me. I loved that place because it had only 1 window so you could pay and get outta there quickly before the person behind you realized what you had done. One morning the girl at the drive thru said “We call you the wave maker” I said “What?” She said “You start by paying for the one behind you and then it goes on and on and on for quite awhile.” As I drove off God instantly spoke to my heart – it’s the same way with the gospel! If you share it like you shared a cup of coffee – you’ll never even know the long lasting effects. You will get to heaven and there will be a room full of people you’ve never met. You’ll hear a boy say “Because you shared the gospel with my mother, I got my mom back! My dad, he stopped drinking and stopped abusing us. ..” THAT’s it friends! We have a generation who is lost and hurting – we need to give them JESUS! If we want to save the children – we give the parents Jesus. And sometimes, that starts with meeting their needs. With a bag of groceries for a neighbor, offering to give an over stressed mom a break for an hour or two… let them see Jesus in you and then find the opportunity to meet them on common ground and share His love for them.
I feel like I rambled a bit this morning – but my intent through it all is to light a fire in those reading. To encourage you to look around you, so many are lost and hurting and need a hand up. Pray and ask God to reveal those to you. Ask Him to give you a heart like Jesus and that what would break his heart would break yours. What would make him happy, will make you happy. And then go out and be His hands and feet! (Even when no one is watching…)