For His Eyes Only

Title: For His Eyes Only

Bible Book: Matthew 6 : 1-4

Author: James Merritt

Subject: Money; Stewardship; Materialism



If you have ever gone for a job interview, one of the questions that you will be asked is something like this: "Tell me what you have done in the past that would qualify you for this job?" Or, they may ask you something like this: "What character qualities do you have that would make me want to hire you?" But if you will think back to any job interview you have ever had you were never asked this question: "Why do you do what you do?" When people try to size us up and find out what kind of persons we are, they go to our methods, but never to our motives. I heard about a young lady who wrote this sweet note to her ex-fiance, whose heart she had broken a year before.

It said:

Dear John, I have been unable to sleep since we broke off our engagement. It has shattered me. I just cannot live any longer without you. Won't you forgive and forget? Your absence is breaking my heart. I was a fool to leave you. Nobody can take your place. I love you so much. Please call soon. I wait anxiously by the telephone to hear your voice. Love Always, Donna

Then she added this:

P.S. Congratulations on winning the $6 million lottery!

Now when we judge people, or even judge ourselves, we tend to look at the body of the letter and don't pay much attention to the P.S. That is how we are so different from God because we look at the "what" where God looks at the "why." We look at "how much" God looks at "how." We judge a person by "their methods" God judges a person by "their motive."

Remember the Sermon on the Mount is telling us, truth by truth, "the only way to live." The Lord Jesus is going to spend almost the entire chapter before us, teaching us that the only way to live is to live without hypocrisy. Here He deals with the area of giving to the poor; doing things for other people. He makes three simple statements to remind us that when we give to others, or do for others, it is to be "for His eyes only."

I. When You Give, Give Sincerely

"Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven." (v.1)

Now the subject here in general is giving. But He uses a specific example of giving to the poor and to the needy. Now I want you to notice that Jesus expects His followers to give, and to give generously. You notice that Jesus says in verse 2 and 3, "When you do a charitable deed*," not "if you do a charitable deed*" It thrills me to know that not even Jesus, in the greatest sermon ever preached, could complete his sermon without talking about giving. I know that many people today despise a pastor to ever mention money. But did you know that 1/10th of all of the verses in the gospel deal directly with the subject of money? That's 288 verses. As a matter of fact, if you will read the whole Bible, you'll find that less than 500 verses speak specifically about faith. Only 500 verses talk about prayer. Yet, 2,000 verses talk about money and materialism. You need to understand that faith and finances go hand-in-hand. What you do with your checkbook is just as important as what you do with your Bible. Jesus expected his followers to use His blessings to them, to be used to be blessings to others. Jesus expected His followers to be aware of people who are in need; to care for people who are in need; and to share with people who are in need.

I was reading about the flamboyant mayor of New York City during the Great Depression, Mayor LaGuardia. Before he became mayor he served for a time as a police court judge, and one cold winter's day they brought a man to him who was charged with stealing a loaf of bread. LaGuardia asked him if he was guilty, and the man said he was. He had taken the bread because his family was starving and he had no money to buy food. LaGuardia said, "Sir, I've got to punish you; the law makes no exceptions, and I fine you $10.00!" He brought down his gavel, but then the man looked at him and said, "Your honor, I have no money for the fine. You may just as well throw me in jail." LaGuardia said, "Sir, I wasn't finished. He pulled out his wallet, took a $10 bill out of it, handed it to the bailiff and said, "Here's the money for your fine." Then he said to the bailiff, "Now give it back to me." He took back the $10, put it into a hat, handed the hat to the bailiff and said, "I'm going to suspend the sentence, and I'm going to fine everyone in here in the courtroom 50¢ for living in a town where a man has to steal bread in order to eat." When that man left that courtroom that day there was a bounce to his step--$47.50 in his pocket.

Now that's the kind of attitude that God expects us to have with our money and with our possessions. But the problem Jesus talks about here was unique. The problem was not the "what?" the problem was the "why?" He was referring here to the Pharisees specifically, and these were people who did their good deeds "to be seen by men."

The word for "see" is the Greek word theaomai which gives us the word theatre. It literally means "something to be stared at." In other words, people who give just to be seen by other people, so that other people will think they're generous, are just putting on a show. Their giving was just a Broadway performance. The Pharisees were like Dion Sanders. When it came time to give it was "prime time." These Pharisees loved to put on piety parades. They had a "strut your stuff" spirituality. Jesus said about these Pharisees in Jn. 12:43, "*for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God." You see, the sad thing was the Pharisees were doing the right thing, but they were doing it for the wrong reason. They believed they were doing the right thing, and they believed that God was pleased not at the why, but at the what. Jesus Himself could not tell them any differently.

I heard about a tombstone one time that had this epitaph on it: Here lies the body of William J, Who died maintaining his right of way--He was right, dead right, as he sped along, But he's just as dead as if he were wrong. You see, you may be a tither today, but you tithe for the wrong reason. You may give generously to very needy causes and very wonderful benefits. But the big question is this: Do you give to share what you have, or to show what you give? When you give, give sincerely.

II. When You Give, Give Spontaneously

"Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward." (v.2)

Now what Jesus was talking about was very interesting. The Pharisees did not literally blow a trumpet before they gave. But in the temple there were thirteen receptacles for the offerings of the people, and the mouthpieces of these chests were made of brass and they were shaped like a trumpet. Now if you wanted to make a big show of your giving, you could throw your money in in such a way as to make a loud clattering noise against that brass, and everybody would turn and look to see who gave an offering. That was known back then as "sounding a trumpet." In other words, these people were blowing their own horns. Jesus has a word for these kind of people. He calls them "hypocrites." In fact, this was Jesus' favorite word for Pharisees-hypocrites. He calls them hypocrites in verse 2 concerning their giving; hypocrites in verse 5 concerning their praying; hypocrites concerning their fasting in verse 16.

The word Jesus used is the Greek word for actor, which gives us the word hypocrite. Greek and Roman actors in the time of Jesus wore large masks and costumes designed to increase the size of their appearance. They would wear platform shoes to make themselves taller. They would do everything they could, in other words, to make themselves to appear to be something that they really were not. For the same reason modern actors do today, they would put on heavy makeup and specially designed costumes to project an image that appeared to be real, but really was false. The word hypocrite soon took on the connotation of someone who treated the world as a stage on which he was just playing a part. A hypocrite is someone who tries to make himself appear to be something that he really is not. Its someone whose actions do not really match his words. In other words, these were people who are playing a game of religious make-believe.

Churches today are full of make-believe actors who could win an academy award for impersonating what a Christian ought to be like.

Today's actors will tell you that good acting always begins when the actor believes in the reality of the person that he's playing. That emotion is reinforced by proper technique by knowing the question, by knowing what to say and what to do, and when to say and when to do it.

That's what is so sad about Pharisees. Pharisees don't pretend to pray; they really do pray, but they pray with the wrong motive. Pharisees don't pretend to give; they really do give, but they give with the wrong motive. You see, it is proper to have the correct technique and know what to say and when to say it, and convince people that you are something you're really not. When it came to giving, these Pharisees knew when the camera was rolling, and if it wasn't rolling they would get it to rolling, and they're always right on cue. He was warning his followers not to make the mistake most people make every day and that is to major on what we see in the outer person while neglecting the inner person that really matters to God. Jesus said about these Pharisees, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence.

Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness." (Mt. 23:25-28)

He said, The Pharisees did a good job of whitewashing, but a bad job of dish washing. They were more concerned with their reputation than they were with their character.

In my study here at the church I have a little plaque on my desk. It's a quote by Dwight L. Moody. It simply says this: "If you will take care of your character, God will take care of your reputation." Whenever you try to use your goodness to cause other people to notice you and to brag on you, and to give you praise and honor and glory; when that becomes your motive so that "you may have glory from men," as he says in v.2, then listen to what He says, "I say to you, they have their reward." The word for reward is a technical expression that was used at the completion of a commercial transaction where a receipt would be given showing "Paid in full." Jesus was saying that those who trumpet and parade their good works so that they can get the applause and glory of men, receive their reward the moment the clapping begins. They get exactly what they are looking for, no less, but no more. The Lord says that kind of giving means nothing to God.

I'm going to hit close to home when I say this. But how many of you have given money to a charity, or to the church, just to secure a tax break? Now there is nothing wrong in claiming all the legitimate deductions at tax time that you can take, but if your motive in giving is just to get a tax deductible receipt, then hold on to that receipt and treasure it because that's all you're going to get. That's the only reward you're going to have. If you don't give just because you love Jesus, and because you want to see the work of God supported, and you want to see people saved and reached for Christ, then quite frankly, no matter what the IRS puts down you gave, God writes down zero. You see, it is so easy to fake Christianity. You can spit-polish your image on the outside, but if it does not correspond into integrity on the inside, to God it means nothing.

Several years ago I heard a piece of advice that I hope I will never forget. It goes like this: "Be who you is, because if you is who you ain't, you ain't who you is." Give what you give spontaneously because of the movement of God in your heart.

III. When You Give, Give Secretly

"But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly." (vv. 3-4)

Now this does not mean that we should never give openly. It does not mean that we should never do righteous deeds publicly. Jesus Himself said in chapter 5 and verse 16, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." That sounds like a contradiction on the one hand; Jesus said when you give do it in secret, and then on the other hand, He says, "Let your light shine publicly." How do you reconcile those two things?

Well, here's the principle. Very easy to remember. If it is boastful to show it, hide it. But if it is shameful to hide it, show it. Our giving-do it secretly. Our witnessing-do it publicly. Because what we remember God forgets, but what we forget God remembers. What Jesus is saying here is this: Let your giving, or whatever you do, be primarily "for His eyes only." You don't always have to make a show of what you have, or a show of what you give. As a matter of fact, it is not always wise to let people know what you have or what you can give.

I heard about a man that was walking down the street on a dark night and he passed an alley. Two thugs jumped on him, and though he put up a terrific fight they finally got him down on the ground. After they searched him they were amazed at the little bit of change they found in his pockets. They looked at that man bleeding from the nose, the mouth, with a black eye and a cut over his forehead, and said, "You mean you put up that terrible a fight for 67¢? He said, "Oh no, I thought you were after the $500 in my shoe."

Now let me share with you three or four practical principles to take away from what Jesus tells us in this passage today. First of all, do what you do, for your neighbor's good for God's glory, never for personal gain. Someone has well said, "What a man does for himself he takes with him; what he does for others he leaves behind."

The next lesson is this: The real you is what you do when only God sees it.

Robert Redford was walking through a hotel lobby one day and a woman saw him and followed him into the elevator. With great excitement she said, "Are you the real Robert Redford?" As the doors of the elevators closed he said, "Only when I'm alone." The real you is what you are and what you do when nobody sees and nobody knows but God.

Finally, trust God to reward you. Jesus says here, "You do what you do in secret; no fanfare, not looking for the applause and glory of men, but only for the glory of God, and "your Father who sees in secret will reward you."


In the 19th Century a member of the British Parliament journeyed to Scotland to make a speech. His carriage became mired in a bad road and a Scottish farm boy came to his aid with a team of horses. Even though he was already late getting home and he knew his dad would be greatly upset, he took the hour and a half necessary to get this man out of the mud. The man said, "Lad, how much do I owe you?" The farm boy, who could have used the money, said, "Nothing, Sir, I was just glad to help you. I just fulfilled the Golden Rule." The man said, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" He said, "I'd like to be a doctor." The Parliamentarian got this boy's name and years later paid for this Scottish farm boy to go to the university to become a doctor. Fifty years passed and a world leader lay deathly sick with an infection in the country of Morocco. A wonder drug was administered, a new drug called penicillin, which was discovered by Sir Alexander Fleming. Fleming was the young Scottish lad with the team of horses, and the man who had sponsored his education was Lord Randolph Churchill, the father of Winston Churchill, who was the sick statesman who recovered.

Take God's word for it. He has a way of rewarding even a cup of cold water given in His name. So whatever you do, do it for His eyes only. Do it for His glory only, and your reward will be great, both on earth and in Heaven.

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