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Matthew, chapter 6

On almsgiving, prayer, and fasting.

On disdaining the things of this world

Giving to the needy

1. Take heed that ye give not your alms before men, to be seen by them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father Who is in heaven. Having led them up to the greatest of the virtues, which is love, now He drives away vainglory, which follows after the achievement of the virtues. See what He says, "Take heed," as if speaking of some terrible wild beast. Take heed that it not tear you limb from limb. If you give alms "before men" but your motive is not "to be seen by them," you are not condemned. But if your motive is vainglory, then even if you give alms from within your inner chamber, you are condemned. For it is the intent that God either punishes or crowns.

2. Therefore when thou givest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. The hypocrites did not actually have trumpets; the Lord is here deriding their thoughts, for they wanted their almsgiving to be trumpeted. "Hypocrites" are those who differ in appearance from what they really are. These men, therefore, appear to be merciful and generous, but are in fact the opposite. Verily I say unto you, They have received their reward. Having been praised by men, that is the only reward they will receive.

3. But when thou givest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth. Using hyperbole of language, the Lord said, "If it is possible, do not even be aware yourself that you are giving alms." Or, in another sense as well, the left hand represents vainglory and the right hand, almsgiving. Let not your vainglory be aware of your almsgiving.

4. That thine alms may be in secret, and thy Father Who seeth in secret Himself shall reward thee openly. When will He reward you? When all things are revealed clearly and openly, and then you will be not merely rewarded, but glorified.

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