“And thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly”- Matthew 6:4b
These words from the mouth of our Lord Jesus were spoken when He was on a mountain in Galilee. We have here some basic instruction for the heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven. These words are precepts of the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven; they instruct us how to be thankful to God for having delivered us from the power and kingdom of Satan and of the darkness of this present world, and the sinfulness of our own flesh.
The latter is rather pronounced here in these words!
There is nothing that so causes the redeemed saints to walk circumspectly and carefully as the knowledge that ‘‘our Father seeth in secret.” ‘‘He knows all our hearts and the secrets within.” You recognize the refrain of these last words. Jesus spells this out for us here in these first four verses of Matthew 6.
That God sees ‘‘in secret,” means that He looks at the secret motive of our hearts. He tries our hearts. There is nothing hid from His gaze, and His searching eye penetrates into our very hearts. He does not merely look at the external deeds.
God does not “need” our gifts. All is His; even the cattle upon a thousand hills belongs to Him. Our gifts must be rooted in righteousness. It must be a different kind of righteousness than that of the Scribes and Pharisees. It must not be simply a gift “to be seen of men.” God does not desire a mere theatrical display in which we would have men praise us. We must not seek the glory of men, but the approval of God. To be sure, if we would give all our money to the poor, and have our body to be burned, and if we do not have love, we are nothing!
Love must show itself before God in our gifts on the altar!
This love is called by Jesus “your righteousness.” Righteousness is the keeping of the commandments of the Lord, free from all sin and evil self-interest. It is not seeking self, but the glory of God and His honor. This righteousness reveals itself in our “alms.” Such alms are revelations and expressions of tender mercies toward the needy. They are the heart of the merciful who shall receive mercy.
Now this showing of mercy is a very selfless act. It means that we are wholly absorbed in the giving for God’s sake. We are not interested in what man sees in us, but what God sees in us, in our giving. He must smell the sacrifice, and it must be a sweet savor in His holy nostrils. It must be the thank-offering which is a whole burnt offering. We must here engage in the priestly act and work of not merely giving our money, but above all our very selves (II Cor. 8:5). And that sacrifice of the thankful heart is seen of our heavenly Father. He seeth in secret. He knows our works; the deepest thought and intent of our hearts in our giving. Such giving is walking in the straight gate and narrow way, which leads to life.
We need to be warned! We have flesh, young people. Not always do we give alms! We do not always (seldomly?) work that we may have to give to those who have need. We do not always do as Israel was enjoined to do when they were commanded to leave the comers of their fields stand for the poor to glean. But sometimes we do give “alms”; we do feel that we should help our neighbor, and that if we see our neighbor have want, and we have this world’s goods, we should help him and give him from our abundance. We sometimes come to that height where we have bowels of affection for our neighbor. However, our heart is subtle, more than anything else! Well may we pray: Search me, O God, and know my heart. And we may well cry to the Lord: Who can understand his errors? Cleanse Thou me from secret faults! May the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer!
Yea, Father, thou dost see in secret! And Thou dost behold and scrutinize my heart better than I can do it. And Thou dost know how sin cleaves to my best works of showing mercy; cleanse Thou me from secret faults in my giving of alms. May I not do a little secret trumpeting of my giving before men! Lord, I have some of that self-righteous Pharisee in me, and then I have my reward. And the secret joy of giving, and special blessedness of giving, I do not taste. I then lose the sense of the words of the Lord Jesus that it is more blessed to give than to receive. And I would not forfeit that great and blessed reward of helping the poor with a pure heart. For I would see Thee, O God, in my giving!
Yes, the hypocrites did this in the streets of Jerusalem and other cities in Israel on their way to the gathering of the saints in the synagogues. They literally had someone trumpet that a great man and a liberal giver was on his way to the synagogue and the temple to cast his gift into the temple treasury. He would give his Corban before the eyes of men, in the footlights of the theater of men. Jesus must have observed this hypocrisy of men. Did He not know what was in them? In us? Indeed, He did!
Yes, such hypocrites have their reward!
The left hand must not and may not know that the right hand gives. Now that sounds like an impossibility. It points up the truth that it is hard for a rich man to give properly. Sometimes this saying is quoted rather glibly and applied to the envelope-system of giving whereby at least one of the deacons knows what is contributed to the maintenance of the ministry of the Word. However, do not forget that Jesus does not say merely that you must show theatrically what you give to others, but not even to yourself. Now that means that it is pretty hard to give even without an envelope with an assigned number. It really makes no difference from the point of view of the giver. As little as we ought to display of giving, so little ought we to try to hide the paucity of our giving behind the saying: Let not your left hand know what your right hand doeth! The Lord also knows our hearts, without an envelope as well as with an envelope. It must be in either case pure love and gratitude!
We look for the reward of God who sees in secret!
It is indeed a reward. It is not, of course, a reward of merit. It is all of grace. It gives the reward of inner joy and peace. It gives the joy of brotherhood, of helping the needy. The matter is not so much the degree of the need of the brother and neighbor, but rather the great desire of love for the brother.
At the altar of consecration, the law and the prophets will have its own. It is “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
The day will come when we will openly hear: Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom which has been prepared for you from the foundation of the world. I was in prison and ye visited me, naked and ye clothed me, hungry and ye fed me. For as much as ye have done this to the least of mine, ye have done it unto me.