A Sincere Life

Text: Matthew 6:1-18

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave instructions for the life of a disciple. In our text, He described the life of a disciple as a sincere life. The word is not used in our text, but this is certainly the concept under consideration. A disciple of Christ cannot be a hypocrite. His outward actions must be in harmony with his inward thoughts and motivations.

Warning Against Seeking the Praise of Men (Matthew 6:1)

  • Why would a person not reveal with sincerity who they are and what they believe? – they are concerned with what others think about them; we cannot be this way (1 Corinthians 4:3)
  • Jesus warned, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them” – some things we do will be noticed by others (Matthew 5:16); Jesus was addressing intent; doing good not to please God but to be noticed by others
  • Important that we remember that it is possible to do good and still be lost – just performing the outward acts by themselves will not save us; we must obey God from the heart (Romans 6:17)
  • Even if no one else sees, God sees what we do; that should be enough for us
  • Jesus then cited three examples of activities that could be done either for show or in sincerity – we must do these in sincerity

Helping with Sincerity (Matthew 6:2-4)

  • The hypocrites would help the poor while drawing as much attention as possible (Matthew 6:2) – it is certainly possible to help the poor this way; but is our intent to help the poor or to be recognized as helping the poor?
  • Help in secret (Matthew 6:3-4) – if no one is aware of what you’re doing, that’s perfectly fine; God sees and He will reward you

Praying with Sincerity (Matthew 6:5-8)

  • The hypocrites would pray in highly visible locations, using many words (Matthew 6:5, 7) – it is possible to benefit others this way, leading others who are sincere in prayer; but is our intent to offer prayers and supplications to God or to be recognized for our eloquence?
  • Pray in secret and with simplicity (Matthew 6:6, 8) – private prayers should be private; words should be simple; remember that God already knows what we need before we ask

Fasting with Sincerity (Matthew 6:16-18)

  • The hypocrites would fast and make it evident by their appearance (Matthew 6:16) – it is possible to encourage others, motivating them to commit more fully to God; but is our intent to fast in order to focus on spiritual things, or to draw attention to the show that we’re making?
  • Fast in secret (Matthew 6:17-18) – it is between you and God; God is unseen and sees what is unseen and He will reward you

The Model Prayer (Matthew 6:9-15)

  • To go with what Jesus just said (Matthew 6:7-8), Jesus gave a model prayer – not “The Lord’s Prayer” (a special formula we recite from memory); His example was very simple and straightforward; simple does not mean insincere
  • Notice what Jesus said His disciples are to pray for – to praise God (cf. Acts 4:24, 31; Psalm 18:3); for the kingdom (cf. Colossians 1:13); for God’s will to be done (cf. 1 John 5:14-15); for physical needs (cf. James 1:17; 1 Timothy 6:17); for forgiveness (cf. 1 John 1:9-10); for guidance (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:13)

Conclusion

  • Hypocrisy is one of the most common excuses for people refusing to listen to the truth – they see Christians as hypocrites and want no part of it; sadly, many are (especially those who are simply Christians by the world’s definition)
  • We must live lives of sincerity – not just to keep from turning people away, but to please the Lord

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