Victoria Fellowship Church
International & Interdenominational
Bible Study Worksheet – February 12, 2017
Theme: Building Blocks for Godly Living
Topic: Godly Motives
Text: Matthew 6:1-18
Key Verse: Matthew 6:1: “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” (NIV)
Last Sunday we learnt how “True Love” would make us love the most unlovable and forgive those that have hurt us. We acknowledged the challenge this brings to our natural instincts, and how it is only by the grace God gives that we can be that way. Our learning from that study include the following:
- The principle of “turning the other cheek” is about giving those that hurt us a second chance. If we have turned hostile to someone because they hurt us, we need to rethink. God gave us several chances before we submitted to the lordship of Jesus Christ. He expects us to do same to others.
- Many have come to know Christ in response to the love of those who should ordinarily not love them – those they have hurt. However, God does not promise that our loving acts will always be met with a positive response. Ours is to do what God commands, regardless of the response of others
- The command to forgive relates to personal relationship and does not apply to the law enforcement and legal institutions which God has instituted for the protection of victims of wrongdoers who are determined to frustrate avenues for peaceful resolutions.
- God is not impressed by a grudging forgiveness – a so-called forgiveness that is granted to avoid a sense of guilt. God wants our forgiveness of others to be a product of our love for them, a nd to be reflected in our subsequent relationship with them.
This Sunday, we will be doing some soul-searching as we discuss what “Godly Motives” means. This is not just about whether we do things that bring applause or commendation from others, but the real, unspoken reasons we do them. Our learning from the study should include the following:
- We are often in situations that put pressure on us to be loud and ostentatious in doing good, such as appeals for public pledges of donations towards laudable causes. The Christian needs to ask himself or herself if our positive response to appeals really need to be announced.
- We need to be conscious of the temptation inherent in the unintended applause and recognition we receive for our charitable acts. Those moments bring a secret glee that could be dangerous to our spiritual health if not handed over to God’s Spirit. We must learn to deflect attention from ourselves and give glory to God for the good things He does through us.
- We must be careful to avoid being active in Church activities such as night vigils and declared fasts just because we want to be seen as pious or spiritual.
In a recent study on Integrity, we noted that integrity is not the same as reputation – that a good reputation does not imply integrity, but that integrity eventually results in reputation. The Bible says “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure” (Jer 17:9), that the heart can devise great schemes – including schemes to earn a reputation that is not underpinned with integrity. This plays on the basic human limitation – that we hold an opinion of people based on what our natural senses perceive of them, which is often different from what God sees. Those for whom godly integrity is a way of life rarely speak about their integrity, and they act with integrity regardless of whether others are watching or not. They do not act to make an impression. The same holds true for other building blocks for godly living – those that live by the building blocks are not driven by a desire for reputation. Jesus frequently told those He healed not to tell anyone about Him; He would command those He healed to tell no one about it, and He would quickly walk away from the scene of His miracles as crowds gathered. Our text speaks of three things we might do for show – giving to the needy, praying, and fasting.
1. Discuss the practice of public donations and pledges in the context of godly motives.
2. What steps might help us avoid drawing attention to ourselves when we minister to the needy?
Not all our pious acts that come to public knowledge and acclaim is intended to draw attention to our person. As we noted earlier, Jesus never intended that His miracles of healing would win him acclaim – He did those works out of mercy. In the same way, our pious acts would often draw unavoidable attention to our person. The Christian needs to be aware that such times are trying times, and must learn to deflect the glory from himself or herself, to God. One general observation is that those whose pious acts are underpinned by healthy motives rarely talk about those acts unless there is a real benefit for others in doing so.
3. Give practical suggestions for the Christian to manage public recognition and acclaim of pious actions that were done with pure motives and not intended to draw attention to self.
Jesus’ reference to prayer and fasting is a caution that even our most spiritual activities can be illmotivated. These include proclaimed fasts and all-night prayer meetings, all of which are good disciplines in themselves, but can also often be driven by unspiritual motives. Many churches have a myriad of activities – enough to keep members away from their homes every evening of the week. Members are encouraged, and in some cases, ordered to attend these activities – sometimes with threats of sanctions especially for those in leadership roles. Truly devoted members of the Church and who covet leadership roles may seek recognition by being more visible. Church leaders are often deceived into seeing such visibility as a mark of spirituality and devotion. Every Christian should subject himself or herself to self-examination as to the real motives behind outwardly pious activities in which we are involved.
4. Let some participants share their reasons for participating in Church-proclaimed all-night prayers and fasts. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________
Prayer: Father, purge us of all hypocrisy and impure motives in the things we do in and for Your kingdom, in Jesus’ name. Amen.