Such were “hypocrites”—the word means an actor on a stage, wearing a mask and playing a part.
Such already “have received their reward in full.” The words mean that they have their receipt, with no more payment to come. God cannot reward them in heaven, or on earth.
God tells us to give our money, our sacrificial tithes and offerings, for his glory and not our own.
“Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing” (v. 3). In other words, don’t let anyone know what you have given.
Then “your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (v. 4). Give to the Lord, not to us. Give not to the church but through the church to God. Not so we will know, but so God will be pleased.
“Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the Lord your God has blessed you” (Deuteronomy 16:17). “According to their ability they gave to the treasury for this work” (Ezra 2:69). “The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea” (Acts 11:29). “If the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have” (2 Corinthians 8:12).
So long as our gift is a sacrifice, it is pleasing to God. Not the amount but the commitment is the issue with our Father.
“Freely you have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8). “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
Join God at work
One of the items in Ripley’s “Believe It or Not” columns pictured a plain bar of iron worth $5. Made into horseshoes, that iron is worth $50. Made into needles, it is worth $5,000. Made into balance springs for Swiss watches, it is worth $500,000. It’s not the material but its use that matters.
There is a divine-human partnership in God’s Kingdom. We do what we can, and he does the rest. Noah built the Ark, and God sent the flood. Moses raised his rod, and God parted the Red Sea. The priests stepped into the flooded Jordan River, and God stopped its flow. Solomon built the Temple, and God filled it with his presence. Peter stepped onto the Sea of Galilee, and Jesus redeemed his faith. John worshipped on Patmos, and Jesus gave him the book of Revelation.
So it is that God finances his Kingdom work through the sacrificial faithfulness of his people. He has chosen to do it this way. He owns all that exists, but he will only use that which we give to his use. He will only work with the materials we give to his purpose. Our obedience to his call to sacrifice affects directly his work on earth.
Saul lost his kingdom because he wouldn’t make sacrifices to God. The Jews lost their nation because they wouldn’t repent before Babylon. The people of Jesus day lost their opportunity for salvation because they wouldn’t trust in the Christ. Festus and Felix lost heaven because they wouldn’t believe Paul.
General MacArthur asked for thousands of missionaries for the Far East in the days after World War II, but the churches didn’t send them. Now those lands are almost entirely Muslim, and closed to the gospel.
On the other hand, God will use every sacrifice placed into his hands. A boy’s lunch feeds 5,000 families. Humble fishermen begin the greatest spiritual movement in human history. An angry Pharisee becomes the greatest theologian the church has ever known. An immoral adulterer named Augustine becomes the greatest theologian since Paul. A troubled monk named Luther begins the Reformation. A martyred German named Bonhoeffer still challenges the church.
I’ll be in heaven because two men gave up their Saturday mornings to knock on my door and invite me to ride their bus to church. What sacrifice did God use to bring you to himself? What sacrifice will you give him today?
God finances his Kingdom through the sacrificial faithfulness of his people. And he blesses those who trust him enough to receive what he will give them in return.
A man was lost in the desert southwest, and dying for water. He stumbled upon an old rundown shack, and inside it, a weather-beaten water pump. Frantically, he grabbed the handle and began to pump, but nothing came out. It was bone dry.
Then he noticed an old jug. The label read: “You have to prime the pump with all the water in this jug. Be sure you fill the jug again before you leave.” He unscrewed the cap to find a jug full of water, and a decision. He could drink the water and live for a day or so. Or he could pour the water into the old pump by faith that he would have all the water he would need.
Finally he poured the jug’s contents into the pump. He began to pump the handle as fast as he could. The old leather valves began to squeak like they were tearing apart. Then a little bit of water began to dribble out, then a little more, and finally it gushed forth. Clean, clear, cold water, all he would ever need.
He filled the jug for the next traveler. And he added this note: “Believe me, it really works. You have to give it all away to get back all you need.”
Let us pray.