Green pastures – Part 2
Text: Matthew 6:1-4.
Secret sacrifices with open rewards
Life is always about choices and looking through the Bible, I discover that the Bible is also a book of choices. The truth is that every choice you make, either good or bad will always have a consequence or consequences. Some consequences are temporary, while some are permanent. Some are reversible and some are irreversible. Some will last for a life time and some will last for eternity. Surely, the decision to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour is a decision of eternal consequence. My prayer for you today and always is that you will make choices that will have positive consequences on your life.
Our passage today speaks of Secret Sacrifices that have Open Rewards. Matthew Chapter 6 is part of the popular Sermon of Jesus on The Mount, which began in Matthew chapter 5. In this chapter, Jesus emphasised three things believers should enjoy doing in secret. These are:
• Giving: Vs1–4.
• Praying: Vs5–15.
• Fasting: vs16–18.
He made it clear that these three, when correctly done in the secret have public or open rewards. (vs 4, 6, 18)
May you receive grace to practise these in secret and never miss your reward in the open. Amen.
(A) The Prohibited Practices.
In explaining each of these actions, Jesus started with a prohibition, gave a command and ended with a promise. The prohibited practices are,
• Doing Charitable Deeds in Public (vs1-3)
• Praying like Hypocrites- (vs 5,7). The word hypocrite comes from the Greek “hypokrites” and it refers to actors in a play. It implies a lack of sincerity and genuineness. Jesus here emphasised the importance of the motive behind our actions.
• Fasting Like Hypocrites i.e. fasting with sad countenance (vs16)
(B) The Commanded Choices
Along with these three prohibitions came three commanded choices. Jesus says, as for
• Giving- Do not sound a trumpet before you whether in the synagogues or in the streets, (vs2) try your best to keep your alms away from the knowledge of a third party (vs3) Alms should be like oil, which though it swims aloft when it is fallen, yet makes no noise when it falls, unlike water that makes sound when it falls.
• Praying- Go into your room and shut your door (vs6) and avoid vain repetitions (vs7)
• Fasting- Anoint your head and wash your face (v17). Make your best effort to conceal your fast from the public. When these commands are obeyed and choices made, you are on your way to open reward.
There are many concepts of reward and descriptions of rewards in the Bible. Some of them are Exceeding Great Reward (Gen.15: 1), Full Reward (Ruth 2:12), Great Reward (Psa. 19:11), Good Reward (Eccle. 4:9), Just Reward (Isa. 49:4), Due Reward (Luke. 23:41) and in our current passage, Open Reward. This is a reward from the Father, which no enemy can deny. It is open elevation, open promotion, and public honour. Those who take pleasure in the praise of men and pride in the recognition of men shall miss God’s praise and the reward that comes from Him openly. The Bible points out the greater life that lies beyond the recognition of men and charges us to focus on the higher reward. If you have God as your Father and you have made the choice to seek His praise, there is an open reward for your secret sacrifices. The big question is: what are you sacrificing secretly today? Expect your open reward soon. It shall come from your Father. You shall not miss your reward. Amen. Shalom.
Rev. Dr Israel Kristilere. Shepherdhill Baptist Church (Sanctuary of Grace & Glory), Baptist Academy Compound, Obanikoro, Lagos.