Tooting Your Own Horn Matthew 6:1-18
In a small college town a tavern frequented by students ran the following ad in the campus paper during the days before Parents Weekend: "Bring Your Parents for Lunch Saturday. We’ll Pretend We Don’t Know You!" The ad was soon challenged by the college chaplain, who posted a revised version on the campus bulletin board. It read: "Bring Your Parents to Chapel Sunday. We’ll Pretend We Know You!"
There is a lot of pretending in life isn’t there?
We have heroes that we almost worship only to find out that they were pretending to be someone they were not. We have political leaders who claim to be champions of the poor only to find out they are using the poor for votes. There are many young ladies who go out with guys who pretend to love them so that they can get what they really want from the girls.
People use people to get what they want. Maybe some of you here today have felt that sting. In life, people are looking for something real to hold on to. People are looking for people who are genuine to look up to and follow.
What do you think about the person who does good but always makes sure that other people knew what he or she did? One of my favorite ones is when a politician secures financing for a project using tax payer money, and then the person ends up with his or her name on the project.
God is no different. God is looking for people who are truly committed to Him, not just someone who does their duty and leaves. Is just doing our “religious” duty enough? Is doing the right thing all that God is looking for or is there something that needs to go along with the action?
With your spouse, do you want them to be faithful to you because they feel that HAVE to or because they love you and want to? Does God just want us to go through the motions of our faith or does He expect something more? Is it like the child who finally does what they are told to do, but proclaim that they will not like doing it?
If we are coming to church most of the time, giving some money and occasionally volunteering to do something is that all God wants from us?
Tonight we are going to look at a new section of the Sermon on the Mount. We are going to go from some of the things of the Law to what we might call a persons religious duty.
Tonight we are going to look at what God says about., “Tooting Your Own Horn”
I. A WARNING TO PAY ATTENTION TO (V1)
The landscape has not changed too much over two thousand years. During Jesus day many people were going through the motions of religion so that they would receive accolades from other people.
Jesus tells us to “beware” or “be on guard against” the heart and motivation that He is going to speak of. Jesus is going to warn us about the attitude and motivation by which we do things for God.
The use of the term “righteousness” clearly indicates that what follows is still concerned to expand the theme of “greater righteousness” (5:20). In this context, “acts of righteousness” are defined as pious acts motivated by one’s devotion and relationship with God. Jesus has no quarrel with the traditional forms of religious holiness, but calls his followers to be truly God-centered in their performance, not oriented toward self-glorification.
The word for (to be noticed) is related to the term from which we get theater. It has in mind a spectacle to be gazed at. In other words, Jesus is warning about practicing a form of righteousness (acts of religious devotion in general) whose purpose is to show off before men. Such religion is like a play; it is not real life but acting. It does not demonstrate what is in the minds and hearts of the actors, but is simply a performance designed to make a certain impression on those who are watching.
Jesus tells us that if we do things to receive attention from people, that we will have received our reward. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:16 to let our light shine in such a way that people see your good works and the key, so that they glorify the Father!
We are not forbidden to do righteous acts in front of people; we are not to do it with the intention of receiving the glory.
This is why it is important to let people know why we are doing what we are doing. “I am doing this for you in the name of Jesus.”
Many of the religious leaders of Jesus day struggled with this issue and many people today struggle with it. Jesus tells us that the “Toot Your Own Horn” way is not what God is looking for. That is not to be our intent.
In the context of this section of text however; Jesus is going to encourage us in three areas. Jesus picked these areas because they were one that were interwoven into the everyday life of the people of His day and they should be today.
A. Giving to the poor (v2)
The first area is found in verse 2. So WHEN you give to the poor. Jesus assumes that His followers will give support to help the poor. In some of the older translations, this verse speaks of giving “alms” Alms were deeds of kindness or acts of mercy that were directed especially to the poor.
In Jesus day the government did not have any programs for the poor, it was left up to the people to help them out. Money was received during the synagogue service that was to be distributed among the poor of the Jewish community. Some of the Rabbi’s wrote that alms giving was one of THE most important and religious things a person could do.
Jesus in this passage says “WHEN” you give to the poor. The church needs to make sure it has a benevolence ministry and funds so that we can assist the needy in the name of Jesus. The early church did a great job of helping the poor even though they themselves had very little to go give.
How are we doing in this area?
B. Prayer (v5)
The second area of encouragement that Jesus gives to us is the area of prayer. In verse 5 Jesus says, “WHEN” you pray. Prayer was an important part of the day for the people of Jesus time and they should be an important part of our day. The Jews had set times of prayer to where they would drop what they were doing to offer up prayers to God. Remember that when we look at this a little later.
Jesus was a man of prayer. Can you think of anyone who was closer to the Father than Jesus? Where ever we see Jesus, we see prayer. How many times do we get to the end of the day and realize that we had not prayed to God? I wonder how much better our days would go if we would commit ourselves to prayer?
How is our prayer lives? I would love to see us have many groups sprout up in the church that were committed to coming together to pray. Getting together to pray is great, but let us make sure that we are praying to Jesus each and every day, several times per day! How is the prayer life doing?
C. Fasting (v16)
The third expression of Jewish religious practice used to illustrate the principle in 6:1 involved the common practice of fasting. Fasting as an act of religious devotion was highly valued, not only among Jewish groups, but also in popular other religious orders. Not only was fasting observed by the entire community during major festivals (e.g., Day of Atonement), voluntary individual fasting was widely approved of as a vital mark of religious devotion. The pious Pharisee fasted twice a week (cf. Luke 18:12), usually on Monday and Thursday. Jesus has no problem with fasting as a spiritual discipline, but as in previous expressions of devotion, it is the flamboyant use of fasting as a means to display one’s religious devotion for public approval that he takes issue with.
Quite honestly, I wish this was not here. I have failed miserably in this area as many of us have.
Notice in verse 16 Jesus says “WHENEVER” you fast.
Jesus assumes that we will fast. Fasting is spoken of a lot in the Old Testament, but less frequently in the New, but we see from here that Jesus does not dispose of the practice. It is meant to be a time to focus our thoughts directly to God. Some people tell me that all they would be able to think about is how hungry they were, but that is where the discipline comes into play.
As we get into the next section, we are going to look a little deeper than the acts of righteousness. We will get down to the core of the issue.
III. A WRONG ATTITUDE TO BE AVOIDED
As we look at the wrong attitude to avoid as we doing what God has called us to do, you will see a common word in all three instances, the word hypocrite.
Jesus used many figures to describe hypocrisy. He compared it to leaven (Luke 12:1), to whitewashed tombs (Matt. 23:27), concealed tombs (Luke 11:44), tares amidst the wheat (Matt. 13:25), and to wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matt. 7:15).
A hypocrite was an actor in a play. A hypocrite is one who plays something they are not. Jesus is telling us in all three instances how to avoid becoming a person who plays something they are not. We must keep our guard up so that we can remain genuine, so that we keep up not only the right actions, but the attitudes and motives that are so important to maintain.
A. In giving (v2)
Jesus says that the hypocrite will give to the poor, but they will do it in such a way that people will notice them and praise them for their generosity. Jesus says that when we give in that manner that we are not pleasing God, but that the applause from man is the only reward we will receive. The hypocrites gave vast amounts of money to people and they made sure it was done in such a manner that it was known.
We do the same thing today. When our bible colleges or sometimes our churches raise money for their needs, they offer ways to make sure other people know that you gave the gift.
IF we are giving so that people will know that we gave, we ought to keep our money are far as God is concerned. The attitude that Jesus speaks of is one of SEEKING recognition for giving. There is one senator that I am told has over twenty different public buildings named after him in his home state because he was able to direct tax payer money to get the projects done.
Jesus uses the humorous illustration of someone blowing on a trumpet before money is given, this is probably figurative language meant to humorously illustrate His point.
B. In prayer (v5)
Jesus says in verse 5 that the hypocrites will make sure that during prayer time they are in a place to be seen praying.
Remember I mentioned about the appointed times of prayer. Some folks would make sure they were in a busy area during these prayer times so that people would see them lift their hands toward heaven and marvel at their piety.
Jesus says that they have received their reward in full. Jesus is not prohibiting public prayer, but He is saying that prayer is not a show. Prayer is about attitude and motives. How is our attitude during prayer? “Hurry up and finish?” When we pray are we trying to impress people or are we speaking to God?
C. In fasting (v16)
In fasting Jesus tells us that we are not to be noticed for doing it. The popular practice of the day was for people who wanted to be noticed to go unshaven and some would put ashes on themselves and even in their eyes to disfigure their faces so that people would see them.
When we fast, are we telling people we are to impress them or are we doing it in an effort to better focus on God? The hypocrite WANTS everyone to know they are fasting.
The overall attitude to avoid is that of WANTING to be recognized for what we do. Sometimes people will recognize us for what we do, but it is important that recognition by man is not our motive for service. When we are recognized, we need to make sure that we give the glory to God!
IV. AN ATTITUDE TO EMBRACE
A. In giving
In verse three we are told to give in such a manner that it is not a public display. WE are to give because we love Jesus and want to do what He wants us to do. Our attitude is one of humility. We are humbled by the fact that God has blessed us in such a manner that we can help other people.
B. In prayer
In verse 6 we are told to go into our prayer closet and pray. Most of the Jewish homes had a place where a person could go to pray without attracting attention.
We pray to Jesus because we love Him and want to speak with Him. In a figurative sense, this could also refer to trying to get the cares of the world out of our minds so that we can focus on God.
C. In fasting
Verse 17 tells us that WHEN we fast, we are to go about our normal business. Fasting is between you and God. It is for you to focus in on God, not to be noticed by man. The overall attitude that Jesus tells us to have is one of humility. We are to be humble enough to not need the recognition of man when we do things for Jesus.
When Jesus spoke of the religious leaders in Mark 7:6 He said, "Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ’ This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far away from Me.
AS we grow in Christ, it is important for us to realize that not only are actions important but also the motives and attitudes behind the actions. There will be times that as we serve the Lord that people will see that and try to give us praise for it.
One of the ways Satan traps us is by getting us to make sure that we do things to be noticed. If all you are looking for is recognition and praise from man, then you have received your reward no matter what you gave.
We always need to make sure that we are doing what we are doing for the right reason and the right reason is to bring glory to Jesus. There are times when people will notice, when that happens, who will you give the glory to?