We move into a new section of the Sermon on the Mount this week. While we won’t see the form of the antithesis as we have for the last several weeks, Jesus is still comparing and contrasting what is done with what should be done concerning practicing piety (charity, prayer, fasting, and possessions). We begin with our main passage: Matthew 6:1-4 (charity or “alms-giving”).
“Charity” is generally seen as “giving to the poor” in our society. It is a worthy act of contributing to the needs of those who are in difficult circumstances in life. Jesus specifically says, “When you give alms...”. It can probably be said that we have more opportunity to do this today than any generation ever has. The extensive number of charities and ministries combined with today’s technology provides ways in which we can make our charitable dollar go pretty far. Yet poverty is also as rampant as ever, both near and far.
What is Jesus saying in this passage? Why would he be concerned with how we give? Isn’t giving in and of itself enough? Who is affected by our giving? What is our giving supposed to do? Maybe in preparation for this week’s word, you’d even try practicing what Jesus is saying here (see down below the daily readings for guidance).
As you read these passages, pray that today will be a day of patterning your life after that of Jesus Christ, responding in his new way of the Kingdom of God. Remember to reflect upon each of the passages in light of what Jesus says in our main passage for the week.
Monday, September 26 - Read the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7)
Tuesday, September 27 - Matthew 6:1-4, Psalm 37
Wednesday, September 28 - Matthew 6:1-4, Matthew 25:31-46
Thursday, September 29 - Matthew 6:1-4, Matthew 26:6-13
Friday, September 30 - Matthew 6:1-4, I John 3:11-24
Saturday, October 1 - Matthew 6:1-4, Matthew 22:36-40
Sunday, October 2 - Come to worship with your church family!
A great way to study Jesus’ words is to actually try them.
Pray about “giving alms” this week and see how the Lord leads you. Jesus and his followers at the time of his ministry on earth couldn’t just go online to a website and give. They were asked for money any time they walked in the public square (not unlike you might experience when walking or driving in Boston). So maybe that’s something you want to go and do this week.
But here are some other great opportunities to give:
- You can give to our own shelter, Friends of the Homeless of the South Shore by visiting www.causes.com/fhss or sending money directly to “Friends of the Homeless, 8 Driftway, North Weymouth, MA 02191.”
- You can choose from a wide variety or projects through Nazarene Compassionate Ministries by visiting www.ncm.org.
- Kiva.org is a great way to directly impact individuals. Rather than straight “giving,” Kiva is set up as a small loan distributor for individuals and groups throughout the world.
But remember that whatever you choose, try and practice what Jesus is saying here:
So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.