***The "Sermon On The Mount"(Mountain) is the New Law of God given by Jesus and is a parallel to the Law of God given by Moses in the Old Testament. You see in Matthew 5:17-48 Jesus giving us illumination of the laws of God that Moses had articulated. The laws of God were not done away with, but given a new and deeper, spiritual meaning. This portion of the "Sermon On The Mountain" will be addressed in a future post. I would like to share with you a series of 3 posts on Matthew 6:1-18; 1)The Rule Of Doing Alms, 2) The Rule Of Prayer, and 3) The Rule of Fasting.***
Matthew 6:1-4 > "Take heed that you do not do your alms*** before men, to be seen of them: otherwise you have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore WHEN you do your alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily (truly) I say to you, they have their reward. But WHEN you do your alms, let not your left hand know what your right hand is doing: that your alms may be in secret: and your Father which sees in secret himself will reward you openly."
***Alms > Greek is eleemosune = merciful; from eleos = compassionate, tender mercy > Doing alms is doing "acts of mercy" > The NKJV translates alms as "charitable deeds" > Strongs Concordance defines alms as compassionateness, beneficence > When we say "Lord have mercy" we are saying "Lord have steadfast love" (see post on LORD HAVE MERCY) > The NIV translates alms as 1)"acts of righteousness" and 2)"when you give to the needy" > I think doing alms includes giving to the needy, but also includes many other acts of mercy; visiting the sick and the suffering; visiting those in prison, clothing and feeding the poor, providing water to the thirsty: taking in the stranger and the homeless(Hebrews 13:1,2; Matthew 25:31-46), helping the orphans, the fatherless and the true widows(James 1:27; 1 Timothy 5:3-6) > All these "acts of mercy" are "acts of righteousness" and ties in perfectly with Matthew 6:33, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness..." Living "the Life of the Kingdom" is to live "as Jesus lived", laying down your life continuously for all of mankind. >
1 John 3:16-18 > This is how we know the love of God and how we know "if" the love of God lives in us > Are we laying down our lives for the brethren? we who have this world's goods(KJV, NKJV), material possessions(NIV), do we shut up our bowels of compassion(KJV), do we shut up our hearts(NKJV), do we not have pity(NIV)?
James 2:14-26 > Read the entire book of James realizing that James is writing to the Church about the dynamics between the rich and the poor. James is laying out the tensions and temptations that we face in our relationships as brothers and sisters in Christ > How should we relate to one another? > And, how do our actions reflect on our relationship with God? Are we phonies? Are we true disciples? Is our faith dead or alive? > James 2:17 says, "Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being alone." So verse 15 and 16 is the "litmus test". Do you turn red with the acid of parsimony, or turn blue with the alkalinity of love?
NOTE: Jesus does not say "If you do alms" but "WHEN you do alms". The three "rules" or "practices" that Jesus prescribes as basic to the spiritual life, ie. the life of "the Kingdom of God" are
1)Doing Alms, 2)Prayer, and 3)Fasting. > On all three accounts Jesus says, "WHEN", not "if", you "do alms...pray...fast". Whether you practice these three "disciplines", ie "disciple-deeds", is not optional, but a command, they are not a devotional choice, but an "obedience". > But how are these to be understood?
2 Corinthians 8:9 > Living the "Kingdom Life" is to live the "life of Christ" (Galatians 2:20,21) > To literally "renounce the world, then detach from the world, then become exiled from the world" (Matthew 16:24-27) > Knowing that you are no longer of the world(John 15:19; John 17:5-26); you are "strangers and pilgrims abstaining from fleshly desires..."(1 Peter 2:11); arm yourself with the "mind of Christ", to spend the remainder of your life doing the will of God(1 Peter 4:1-7) > You are in this world, but you are not of this world > Jesus gave us the ultimate example in 2 Corinthians 8:9 - "though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that you through his poverty might be rich" > If we are truly to be like Christ then we will become poor so others can be enriched. > NOTE: This verse is often twisted(by TV preachers)to teach the exact opposite of what it is actually communicating!!! We are told that this verse is saying we are to be rich, when it is really saying we are to be like Christ who sacrifices his riches and becomes poor so that others can be enriched!!! Of course God has chosen to bless everyone with a different amount of this world's goods requiring that we all work out our own salvation with fear and trembling(Philippians 2:12) > Jesus taught, "No man can serve two masters...you cannot serve God and Mammon."(Matthew 6:24) > God can be your master or Money(Mammon) can be your master, but not both at the same time!!! > Where is your heart/treasure?(6:19-21) > Is the light in you darkness, or is the light in you true light?(6:22,23) > Do you hang on to everything you can , or do you trust your heavenly Father to provide for you as you provide for those in need?(6:25-34)
1 Timothy 6:5-11 > This passage is self-evident, almost too clear to believe > You brought nothing into this world, you certainly will take nothing out > Contentment is the issue, and what can help us is focusing on the topic of this post > by making "almsgiving" a spiritual practice, that defines who we are in the Kingdom of Life, we are cured of these temptations > If you carefully read the above passage - 1 Timothy 6:1-5 - you will see that we are warned to withdraw from those who teach "that gain is godliness"(verse 5) > We are to ignore those teachers who "teach otherwise, and do not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine according to godliness"(verse3) - We are told here by St Paul that these false "teachers of gain" "are proud, knowing nothing...men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth(verse 4,5) - Prosperity teachers are to be ignored, for no matter how slick their schtick, they do error, they twist the beautiful truth into an ugly lie. And the result, if you buy into their lies? They will plant in your heart the seeds of "desire to be rich" and "you will fall into a temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful desires, which drown men in destruction and perdition(verse9) - AND WHY IS THIS SO? "Because the love of money is the root of all evil; which while some coveted after, THEY HAVE ERRED FROM THE FAITH, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows"(verse 10) > The answer, the antidote to their poisonous doctrine - "FLEE", "O man of God, FLEE these things; and FOLLOW AFTER righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness, FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT OF FAITH, lay hold on eternal life.(verse 11,12). Phew!!!
Saint of Interest > St John the Merciful, aka, St John the Almsgiver, was a 7th century bishop in Alexandria Egypt who is known for his, you guessed it, his almsgiving. Read more about him at: