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In daily life we often perform for others. We like to be admired for our character, wit, and wisdom. Reflect, then, on what Jesus shares about the Father’s personal sensitivity to our choices.

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Bible passage Matthew 6:1–4

Matthew 6

Giving to the Needy
 1"Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

 2"So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 3But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Audio Bible passage

The audio version of the passage is taken from the Contemporary English Version (CEV).

Explore the Bible

Focus on the Father
At this stage in his sermon Jesus takes the question of motives in a new direction. And if we pay careful attention we’ll find a touching insight about the Father. He actually attends to us like a parent. In any given moment he knows what we’re up to and why we’re doing it. It matters to him!

Parental imagery is familiar to us. We know how parents are delighted when one of their children does well. And, Jesus tells us, God’s title – ‘Father’ – is fitting. He has a father’s heart for us.

Loving for God
So picture a young child who offers her parent a treasured toy. How does the parent feel? A big hug is usually in order!

It’s this touching awareness that brings transformation. We aren’t drawn to God until we realise he is a caring Father – first to Jesus, and then to all of us who love the Son. And as much as we start to live with God’s pleasure in view, our attachment to him grows.


You may find yourself torn between pleasing yourself, or the world, and pleasing God. As we live to please the Father we will start to gain a new integrity and growing sense of joy. See for yourself!

Ron Frost

Deeper Bible study

‘If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.’ (Proverbs 25:21)

Jesus warns us about parading our acts of righteousness in front of others for the purpose of showing off or receiving praise. Earlier on (Matthew 5:16), he talked about letting our light shine so that others may see the good works that we do and glorify God. It is not that Jesus prohibits us to do good works publicly, but he questions the motive by which we carry out these actions. Do we only do good when eyes are on us? Do we yearn for the deep sense of satisfaction when others affirm us for our actions? Do we obey traffic rules when we know that the law-enforcement agencies are watching us with their speed cameras? Do we show charity to others when there is some favour to be given in return? This is what Jesus warns us against and he tells us to examine our motives in carrying out these works of righteousness.

Jesus highlights three areas where we are tempted to parade our acts: giving (vs 1–4), praying (vs 5–15) and fasting (vs 16–18). We feel a certain sense of pride and achievement if others know how much we give, how much we pray and how much we fast. In our reading today, Jesus reminds us that our giving is to be marked by self-sacrifice and a deep sense of compassion for the needy and those who do not deserve it, not a parade of our piety and desire for seeking honour. We give because we are recipients of God’s generous grace and mercy. We give because Christ’s love and compassion compel us to actions. We give because we want to share God’s blessings with others. Jesus calls us to examine ourselves and our motives when we extend our acts of charity to others.

Kar Yong Lim

Giving is the hardest thing

Giving in the Bible takes many forms:

• The Old Testament sacrifices operated at many levels but always involved gifts from the people, expressions of love and gratitude. Some were especially designated as free will offerings (Leviticus 7:16).

• All firstborn belonged to the Lord and had to be offered in sacrifice or, if human or an unclean animal, redeemed with an animal sacrifice (Numbers 18:14–19).

• The first pickings of all crops were to be given to the Lord (Deuteronomy 26:1–11).

• A tithe or a tenth was given to the Lord. Details are complex but the principle is clear (Leviticus 27:30–33; Deuteronomy 14:23–27).

• The Israelites gave generously for the construction of the tabernacle (Exodus 35:4–9; 36:2–7).

• Jesus encouraged charitable giving (Matthew 6:2), emphasising generosity and right motivation (Mark 12:41–44; Luke 12:32–34).

• Paul collected for the poor in Jerusalem and encouraged the support of local leadership (1 Timothy 5:17,18).

This is a rich and varied picture. It should warn us against any rigid insistence on a fixed proportion of income. Tithing was undoubtedly an Old Testament principle – although if the above principles were observed, rather more than a tenth would have been given. But there is no suggestion that this principle necessarily carries over rigidly into the Church as a requirement.

• builds our relationship with God by showing gratitude and devotion

• relieves need within the community

• supports the work of God’s people and those who undertake it

• is at one and the same time planned (1 Corinthians 16:1–4), and spontaneous and generous – indeed sacrificial (Matthew 6:3,4; Mark 12:41–44)

John Grayston

Bible in a year

Read the Bible in a year.

Genesis 12,13   

Matthew 5

Time to give

When it comes to giving to the needy we often think only of financial giving. I suppose that isn’t surprising when we live in a society which thinks throwing money at a problem will make it go away. But we should remember that money isn’t everything. The most precious gift we have is time. Even if we have no money we can still give to those who are in need.

Today, why not:
• Help out in a homeless shelter.
• Help with a ‘food cupboard’ at a local church.
• Distribute goods or food from other charitable organisations.
• Talk to a homeless person on the street.
Tags: Giving


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Speak O Lord
Keith Getty & Stuart Townend
Copyright © 2001 Thankyou Music
Buy this and other great worship songs at www.integritymusic.com

Lord reign in me
Brenton Brown
Copyright© 1998 Vineyard Records (UK/Eire)
Buy this and other great worship songs at www.vineyardrecords.co.uk

  • Rachael Hampton | Friday, 05 January 2018

    ‘Blowing your own trumpet’. Maybe that’s where the saying came from. Did they really do that? isn’t that hilarious?! Right now (dawn on a 41 degree day) my cat is purring on a soft rug on my bed, which I accepted as a gift in return for a donation to an organisation which blesses me. I was told that many people will not give unless they get a gift in return. Huh? Not the way Jesus says to do it. Angela calls it natural, and GILVIN says it’s living out of our true selves. That’s it, isn’t it. Our renewed, born again self wants to give, to love, to please the Father. It’s our messed up, damaged by the world, naturally self centred ‘soul’, our old nature, that drives us to need approval and reward for doing good. Thank You tender Father that You see our hearts, our motives even when we are not aware ourselves - and accept our gifts anyway. Show us where we need to let You change us. Thank You that this natural, true life in You is the place of greatest happiness.

  • Thelma Edwards | Saturday, 06 January 2018

    My old school prayer comes to mind. We used to call it the Prayer of St Ignatious Loyola. It made a big impression on me as a child and looking back I can see how it has influenced my life. Lord, teach me to be generous. Teach me to serve you as you deserve; to give and not to count the cost; to fight and not to heed the wounds; to toil and not to seek for rest; to labor and not to ask for reward, except to know that I am doing your will. (attribution traditional, but uncertain)

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Saturday, 06 January 2018

    I think tithing is a good discipline as is keeping sex within a marriage (Heb 13:5). Jesus did say in Matt 23:23 not to neglect tithing. What we do with our money shows where our heart is "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matt 6:21). I echo your prayer this morning RACHAEL.

  • Thelma Edwards | Saturday, 06 January 2018

    Rachael, your reference to the 41degrees you are expecting, plus images of the -40degrees they were expecting in America and the huge snow storms that hit, even Florida, just make me stand in awe of the vastness of our world, and brings into focus once again the differences there are , not just in the weather, but in wealth, in health care provision, food availability, and generally in levels of need all round the world. To think that wherever we are and whatever our need, our Heavenly Father is aware, and is Love, not just loving.

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Saturday, 06 January 2018

    Referring to Hebrews 13:4 & 5

  • Hilary Dale | Saturday, 06 January 2018

    Thanks for that prayer Thelma. I love and want to pray it as it seems in tune with the passage. But does anyyone have tips/ book suggestion on setting boundaries when caring? I need to know the limits on this : should I count the cost in money/time/how giving affects my family? Should I heed the wounds, if my soul is sapped dry or my family suffer cos I'm focussed elsewhere? Should I seek rest from toiling (Jesus toiled hard, but also rested/ set boundaries?). A labourer deserves their wages?? Maybe my question related more to yesterday's passage than todays- how do I help the "homeless "/distressed /needy or even how do I respond to endless church or family needs? How much is enough? How far is the extra mile, and do I stop then??

  • Marilyn Wadsworth | Saturday, 06 January 2018

    Hilary, I believe that the Holy Spirit is with us to answer the question ' How much is enough?' We are just one member of the Body. We are not called to answer every need or to wear ourselves out doing good works that the Lord has not assigned to us. He will draw us to particular situations where our gifts can be used and He will tell us which they are. We just need to listen!

  • Angela Munday | Saturday, 06 January 2018

    We are not to draw attention to ourselves, warns Jesus; this will not please God who "sees everything." Our gifts to others are between us and God and never need announcing by saying 'look what I am doing'; He knows the efforts we make and encourages rest and relaxation for us too. We have a wonderful living Spirit that does not thrive on praise from 'man'; it belongs to God alone......Hannah, thankyou for your 'God-whispered' comment.

  • Gill Glass | Saturday, 06 January 2018

    I’m realising this morning that it’s ALL about God’s Father-love for us and in us. Without it we are dead, lifeless, unloving, unfruitful. With it we are changed, hallelujah! Father, please transform me by your love for, in and through me. Show me your way for me to live every day. Thelma, that prayer was one of three we learnt by heart at school and we prayed it every Friday. But this morning the words of a very old chorus have come back to me: “Love is like the sunshine warm and bright, love will lift the heavy load and make it light, God is love and if he lives in you the sunlight of his love will come a-shining through, a-shining through”. Hilary, I sense the depth of your heartfelt call for guidance, and maybe anguish which I’ve barely known. I am praying for you today. May we all receive more and more of our Father’s love to motivate and guide us each day. Sorry this post is a bit long!

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Saturday, 06 January 2018

    HILARY I thank God that He is working in your life. I don't know any good books apart from the bible and the best pointer I know is peace in my heart. Sometimes we try to do what only God can do. More than half the battle is recognising we are in one and I thank God you have articulated your concerns and pray His love for you shines through you for your family and others can see where your motives are with the best intentions.

  • Oakley Bookworm | Saturday, 06 January 2018

    HILARY Your post caused me to look at this from a different perspective. Most of us, I suspect, need to be prompted to give, do and care more. A few of us, perhaps, need to be guided to do less. Thinking about it, I feel that both these situations have the same cause. It is when giving, doing and caring become detached from God our Father. The obvious result is a cold, selfish heart that gives little, because it is not warmed by a close, daily ((HUG)) from God, but sometimes it may result in a warn out, empty Christian, who had emptied themselves and not been replenished. It's not that God doesn't provide for us in our service, but that we need to stop serving and go to His well to draw fresh water and rest. If we offer each day to Him and ask Him to prompt us when to work and rest. He will highlight situations in which we can serve and provide natural resting places throughout the day. WL and Compline bookend my day with rest and nourishment. Other WLrs will have different routines, but by feeding, daily, on His word and praying in all situations, both hardness and exhaustion can be avoided.

  • Barbara Sabin | Saturday, 06 January 2018

    He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater, He sendeth more strength as our labors increase, To added afflictions he addeth his mercy, To multiplied trials he multiplies peace. When we have exhausted our store of endurance, When our strength has failed ere the day is half done, When we reach the end of our hoarded resources Our Father's full giving is only begun. His love has no limits, his grace has no measure, His power no boundary known unto men; For out of his infinite riches in Jesus He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

  • David Chipchase | Saturday, 06 January 2018

    Oakley, good comment. Hannah, great to have your contributions to WL.

  • Ruth Lewis | Saturday, 06 January 2018

    Oh, I am so very, very Blessed by all of the wonderful comments . Not only today but everyday. I sometimes am tempted to read the comments first before the lesson. The words to the hymn "He giveth more grace is one of my favorites BARBARA!!! This morning didn't start out to good for me. Different little annoyances, I know it was the enemy trying to destroy my peace . It did. But I am so much better now after reading the lesson and the comments. I pray God's Abundant Blessings on all of my WL family!!!

  • Alison Purvis | Saturday, 06 January 2018

    I too have really struggled with loving my neighbour too the point of exhaustion, neglecting my own health needs and not listen when health professionals told me that I was damaging my health by carrying on. The command isn’t just to love your neighbour, however, but as yourself. It has been a very hard and difficult time to learn where compassion should stop so I can love myself by resting and doing things for my own health problems. I still struggle with this question a lot. I have learnt that God knows my heart but also my body and it’s health issues. I have been pointed to those times when Jesus withdrew from the crowds to pray and recharge. I also try and do things in His strength so they harm my body less. All very challenging. On today’s passage,I know that what Jesus is saying is true. Those things we do anonymously and never mention to anyone are sometimes the things that bless the recipient and yourself the most. CX

  • Hilary Dale | Saturday, 06 January 2018

    Thanks for your comments,friends! I'm still pondering this. I understand we need to tune into leading of the Spirit, but I also know that Jesus was telling us pretty radically what to do as a norm, not just IF the Spirit asked us. Thinking: good Samaritan/ go the extra mile/ go make disciples/ love your enemy etc. Above suggests talking to a homeless person...yet, I've just been in town and realise I tend to avoid eye contact with street people, not cos I don't think they have value, but because I don't have the capacity to meet their needs ....I have several needy people (from local community) sharing my home at the moment...As a family we can show them love and shelter, I can share about Jesus, but the reality is their lives remain essentially messed up, and full of hurt and chronic complications... I'm trying to go the extra mile, but there are miles and miles ahead- always! And there is always someone else in need just round the corner....Spirit, mobilize me and others...Lord be my source and resource... Don't let me be weary nor hard of heart...but show me how to keep radical and sacrificial, but led, and boundaried by You!

  • Jack Russell | Saturday, 06 January 2018

    I am glad the issue of how much to give came up. I have experienced the consequences of giving more than I can give as it has been put with poor health. I have needed to learn that compassion starts with myself. Unless I am loving myself, I can't love others. This has gone against some teaching I have had. This is not arrogance as has been taught, but loving. A surprising effect of this compassion has been saying no to people on occasion. There is such a thing as a good selfishness!

  • Roger Hall | Saturday, 06 January 2018

    This is a thought provoking passage, and the turmoil about and around for who contribute is also showing that people do wonderful things for others. The 23rd psalm shows us that the Lord will move in His shepherd role, he is watching for those who overdo it, and will make them lie down in His green pasture, and restore them. Without realising it, some have revealed precisely what Jesus told us not to! God bless all you do, but go back and see what He told us to do in secret!

  • Hannah Watson | Saturday, 06 January 2018

    What a wonderful family so full of wisdom and such a support. Mike's final blog for the week, he doesn't post on Sundays he take a his day of rest, very much in line with today's reading and the comments, he gives a lot through his writing and knows he needs to refresh himself in order to keep giving. https://bttb365.wordpress.com/2018/01/06/06-01-2018-fulfilled-further-still/

  • Hilary Dale | Saturday, 06 January 2018

    Sorry, Roger, and others, I was feeling overwhelmed by what I fail to do for others, with no intention at all to seem to be blowing my trumpet, massive apologies if it read like that. I'm just trying to understand how to apply the giving that Jesus demands of us, and I fail to live up to.:(

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Saturday, 06 January 2018

    Bless you HILARY. You're comments are as valuable as everyone's. I pray you get a good night's sleep. The Devil loves to accuse us of not pulling out weight. At the end of the day we can give it all to God knowing that Jesus is our Advocate in heaven.

  • Sara Ward | Saturday, 06 January 2018

    Hilary, I too have struggled with the concept of boundaries against what it seems we are called to do. Some considerable time ago during a WL daily reading, the commentator posed the question ‘are you expending your energy on something God doesn’t want you to be doing?’. Unfortunately I can’t remember how long ago this was or the particular passage they were commenting on, but it made me consider my own situation. I realised that was what I was doing. It was in respect of a close personal relationship where I just kept on emotionally giving and giving in the hope that it would improve the things, but all I did was wear myself out trying. When eventually, for the sake of my own health and well being, I had to stop I realised there was nothing coming back and that the person involved just moved on. So sometimes God can prompt us to stop and take stock of a situation. Have a peaceful night everyone.

  • Barbara Sabin | Saturday, 06 January 2018

    Tomorrow is Commitment Sunday at The Salvation Army when we make fresh promises to God, to ourselves and to each other that we can be counted on to keep travelling with Jesus. I ask your prayers for all Salvationists. I bring to thee my heart to fill; I feel how weak I am, but still To thee for help I call. In joy or grief, to live or die, For earth or Heaven, this is my cry, Be thou my all in all. Christ is all, yes, all in all My Christ is all in all. Around me in the world I see No joy that turns my soul from thee; Its honours fade and fall; But with thee, though I mount the cross, I count it gain to suffer loss, For thou art all in all. I've little strength to call my own, And what I've done, before thy throne I here confess, is small; But on thy strength. O God, I lean, And through the blood that makes me clean, Thou art my all in all. No tempest can my courage shake, My love from thee no pain can take,No fear my heart appall; And where I cannot see I'll trust, For then I know thou surely must Be still my all in all

  • Thelma Edwards | Saturday, 06 January 2018

    HILARY, I don't know if this helps but one of my 'life' verses is Philippians 2:13 ,"for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose." For me this means that the motivation to 'act' comes from the Lord and also the power to 'act' comes from the Lord. We can tie ourselves up with our own manmade 'laws', trying to do good works that God did not ask us to do but was for someone else to do for Him. By so doing we exhaust ourselves and fail to do those things He wanted us to do as we were too busy trying to do everything. This in itself can be pride. It is GOD who works not me who works. If we burn ourselves out we are unable to do what God wanted us to do. Yes we are called to love our neighbour as ourself but sometimes we don't love ourselves because we are so busy trying to love our neighbour. A dear friend once told me that I needed to look after myself as if I crashed then all the people I thought depended on me would be let down. I was not indespensable and it was pride that was making me think I was. A hard lesson.

  • Hilary Dale | Saturday, 06 January 2018

    Thankyou all, your comments and insights are so appreciated! Thankyou Jesus, that your words are so radical and relevant! Work in me to give me the will and action needed!

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