MATTHEW 6: ARE YOU IMPRESSED?
I want you to know that I have quite an extraordinary prayer life. If I’m fasting and praying, I not only want credit from God, I want credit from you for doing that.
And sure, I feel good giving to those in need and I'm glad God will reward me in heaven, but I'd really feel great if you knew about my giving!
Few real humans would actually say these things above, but we think them! We wouldn't say it this crassly, but we want people to notice our good deeds.
Jesus says you have to be really careful about this stuff. He says when you do those sort of things to impress other people and they are impressed, congratulations. You got what you were looking for. But the one person who you were really trying to impress—God—isn’t impressed.
Why is God not impressed when we perform for the sake of impressing other people? Because God sees into the heart, who you really are. And God wants you to fast. He wants you to pray. He wants you to give your money away—but he doesn’t want you to do all those things to impress other people. He wants you to do that out of your love and devotion for him. And those are two completely different things.
God help us to do our good deeds out of our love and devotion to you and to truly help others, not to impress them.
Do something good without anyone knowing it but you and God.
Why do you think Jesus is calling us to give in secret?
Why do you think Jesus is calling us to pray in private?
What has your experience been like when fasting?
We all seek approval/credit from others even though we should only seek God’s approval. Where are you struggling most with this?
Do you love your stuff? If you lost every possession you own, what would you miss the most? Why is that so important to you?
Are you struggling with tithing? Have you experienced the freedom of giving? What is that like for you?
Describe someone (without naming them) you have seen suffer from placing too much importance on money and possessions.
What are you worrying about? Why do you think God is not going to take care of it? Do you think He’s not going to take care of it the way you want? Do you think it’s your fault and why should He take care of it? Is it something else?
Randy Harris teaches theology, ethics, and preaching at Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas. He has authored several books and co-authored books with Greg Taylor, including Living Jesus: Doing What Jesus Says in the Sermon on the Mount.