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Mat 6:1          What three religious acts does Jesus single out in Mat 6:1-18 as deeds of righteousness?  See Mat 6:2,5,16.  Is His criticism against these acts themselves?  How do these three acts exemplify the “pure and undefiled religion” that James mentions in Jam 1:27?  I.e., which of the three looks after orphans and widows in their distress, and which keeps us from being polluted by the world?  Cf. Mat 6:13, Mar 14:38.  What does this verse imply about a reward for such acts of righteousness?  What is the criticism Jesus makes here in Mat 6:1 in regard to these acts?  Note: the Greek word for “noticed” here is that from which we get our words “theatre” and “theatrical”.  What part of a man’s sinful nature is it that wants his righteousness to be noticed by others, and why?  Cf. Mat 23:5,14, Joh 5:44.  What does Jesus say will be the reward from God for those who do their deeds to be noticed by men?

Mat 6:2-4     Note: almsgiving was considered the highest form of righteousness and the Greek word for almsgiving is often translated in the LXX as righteousness; see Deut 24:13, Psa 103:6, Dan 4:27, as well as the references below from the apocrypha (but observe that it is Jesus’ blood that atones for sin, not almsgiving)[1].  What examples do we have in Scripture of those who were charitable to the poor?  See Job 31:16-20, Act 9:36, 10:2,4, 11:29, 24:17.  In what way is giving to the poor the best investment a rich person in this world can make?  See Pro 19:17, Luk 12:33, 1Ti 6:17-19.  What is the danger of having riches and not giving to the poor?  See Deut 15:7-11, Pro 21:13, 28:27, Luk 16:19-23, Jam 2:13-16, 1Jo 3:17.  Is giving to a church or other ministry the same as giving to the poor?  Think: What is the difference between tithing and almsgiving?  In what ways does our modern social welfare state reflect the Christian principle of almsgiving?  In what ways does it not?  To what extent do the taxes we pay to support government welfare diminish our personal responsibility to the poor?  What instructions does Jesus give in regard to our giving?  See Mat 6:2-4.  What reward does Jesus say those who make a public show of their charitableness will have?  Is it better to be recognized and rewarded by men, or by God?  Cf. Luk 14:12-14.  What is a hypocrite?  Note: the Greek word used is that used for an actor on the stage of a theatre (see above); in what way is a hypocrite an actor?  Is it significant that Jesus’ harshest words were reserved for religious hypocrites?  See Mat 23:13,15,23,25,27,29,31,33, 24:51.  Why is that?  Think: are not religious hypocrites guilty in their hearts of the same sins they look down upon others for, but in fact add to them by living a lie?  Do we need to be concerned that God will not notice our good works if we do not trumpet them for others to see?  Why is that?  See Mat 6:4, 6, 18.  What should we be more concerned with in regard to our good works?  See Psa 139:1-3, Jer 17:10.  If the intentions of our heart are not entirely pure but motivated by selfishness or greed or to be seen by men or with a thought to receiving something in return or putting someone in our debt, will not God know it?  In this light, why is giving to the poor the best form of giving with the highest rate of spiritual return?  See again Luk 14:12-14.

1. Tobit 4:10-11 For almsgiving delivers from death and keeps you from going into the Darkness. Indeed, almsgiving, for all who practice it, is an excellent offering in the presence of the Most High.

Tobit 4:16 Give some of your food to the hungry, and some of your clothing to the naked. Give all your surplus as alms, and do not let your eye begrudge your giving of alms.

Tobit 12:8-9 Prayer with fasting is good, but better than both is almsgiving with righteousness. A little with righteousness is better than wealth with wrongdoing.2 It is better to give alms than to lay up gold.  For almsgiving saves from death and purges away every sin. Those who give alms will enjoy a full life.

Sirach 3:30 As water extinguishes a blazing fire, so almsgiving atones for sin.

Sirach 7:10 Do not grow weary when you pray; do not neglect to give alms.

Sirach 12:3 No good comes to one who persists in evil or to one who does not give alms.

Sirach 29:12-13 Store up almsgiving in your treasury, and it will rescue you from every disaster; better than a stout shield and a sturdy spear, it will fight for you against the enemy.

Sirach 40:24 Kindred and helpers are for a time of trouble, but almsgiving rescues better than either.

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