Transcription details: Audio 05 06 2018.mp3
Input sound file: Audio 05 06 2018.mp3
we are back to the commands of Jesus. This is from Matthew 6:1, to where now Jesus is going to teach us what holiness means, what is needed from us in terms of our piety, in terms of what we do that is spiritual. And the first command is just simply this one: beware. It’s a warning. Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them. For then, you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. In fact, this is the theme throughout this whole chapter. And then Jesus gives an example that is just so unfamiliar it’s almost hard for me to imagine what it would be like. Here’s what he says. Verse two. When you give alms, when you give money at the temple, when you give money to the offering, when you give money to someone who is in need, sound no trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets so that they may be praised by men. I do not understand this, but I’d like to ask you to help me understand it. Are you ready? Here’s my dollar, and unfortunately I did not pay Cathy $5 to be ready to play a trumpet thing for me [laughter] because you know those trumpeters. They don’t do that for free. But I thought I would ask you to sort of be the trumpets for me so I can see if I can understand this. So when you see the dollar head toward the offering plate, I would like you to applaud and cheer. Are you ready? Let’s see if I can get it. Ready? [applause] Maybe I understand a little bit of it. Would some of you shout, “Way to go Dave [laughter],” while you’re applauding, cheering? Are you ready? [applause]
Way to go.
Maybe I kind of get a little bit of it now. Okay. Okay. Now, what I want you to do is shout as loud as you can, “You are so awesome [laughter].” Are you ready? Because this is what I’m paying for. [applause]
Yay. Awesome. Awesome. Yay.
Wow. Okay, maybe I understand it better now [laughter]. Although, to be honest, I still don’t really understand. What kind of person needs that kind of affirmation? Now, maybe we all do. But what is it about the Pharisees, the hypocrites, the people that Jesus are talking about that makes them want to be like this? And I began to think, “What is it like to be part of a group watching them?” And it occurred to me it might be a little bit like this. The more you tell me how wonderful you are, the worse I feel about myself because that person who wants to tell you how perfect their life is, they really have no understanding how they make you feel. Someone has just lost their mother. Hey, I’m going with my mother to the mother-daughter banquet this Saturday. How does that make somebody feel you’ve heard about the latest things my kids have done because they’re much smarter than yours. Have you ever had anybody do that? How do you like my new outfit? I like it so much better than you. Remind me to help you to learn better how to put makeup on. I’m not saying that, but women, if you ever felt someone. Another woman comes up to you and she is so proud of how good looking she is that she wants to make you certain that she thinks you’re ugly. Has anybody ever, by bragging on how wonderful they are, made you feel smaller or more ugly? I understand that sometimes happens with churches too that there are people who would come up to other people and basically say, “My pastor is a lot cuter than yours.”
Mine’s a lot taller.
There’s a good answer. My pastor’s a lot thinner than yours. My pastor’s better looking. My church is bigger and it’s shinier, and it’s newer, and we have five drummers in the praise brand. They go on and on and on but even though they’re winning in a sense, almost it sounds like they were wanting to give glory to God. Look at everything that God is doing in my church all you here under their breath is not in yours. [inaudible] I wonder if that’s this kind of thing because I think people like this, honestly, I think they may just feel that, and they absolutely simply don’t realize it. So [inaudible] wondering where does this come from, and this morning, it kind of paving where I’m from. We all used to be that cute and people we don’t even know would come up and say, “Honey, you are so cute.” After I turn 30, no one ever did that anymore. But deep down inside, I think for a lot of us, there’s still that little child that wants to be told, “You are so wonderful.” And maybe didn’t get told that enough. What happens to that little child that then get pulled that enough as they move on toward adulthood and they begin to see this kind of attention, they begin to see this kind of affirmation, what does it get life? And here’s the answer of the paving. In 1964, there was a thing called Beatlemania. Before that, they didn’t call it that but there was Elvismania, and before that, there was Frank Sinatramania. I thought to myself, this child, if they got everything they wanted, it would be all these pretty girls around just going, “You’re so awesome and amazing.” Because what this child wants is attention. What this child wants is affirmation. Just look at their expressions on their face. If somebody looks at me like that, I must really be special. As my dad got older, remember you grew up in a town where nobody told you that they like you. As my dad got older, he would go up to strangers and tell them stories about his life because he wanted them to tell him how special he was. And my mom was a very shy, introverted person and she did not understand this at all. There were a few years my mom and dad lived in an Airstream trailer, and my dad would move into a campground and he would go around and tell everybody how wonderful he was. And a week later when he had told everybody his story and it was time for him to listen to their story, he’d pick up the trailer and they’d move to the next campground. And my mom finally said, “Your dad may be a little anxious. He may be a little insecure, but he reminds me of a little boy and I think what he wants is a fan club.” I think that person having the horns blow wants a fans club. And I got to thinking, “What are the emotions that the fans give you?” And I came up with something that makes me feel very uncomfortable. Here’s the thing and I think human beings like about a fan club, what they’re receiving is worship. Let that sink in. That’s worship. Those guitar players up on the stage and that Ringo fella, they are like my God and I’m here and I’m ready to worship them. It’s worship. Ten Commandments. We shall have no other Gods before me. These girls would explain to you that Beatles don’t count. But sadly, that needy person, I think what they hunger for is for someone deep down inside to worship them. They are very [flawed?]. I think they want to be worshiped. But the thing that we know is worship is only for God. And that’s the problem with this kind of behavior. Worship is only for God. Let me ask you a question that I know you all are not quite ready for yet. So the adult that grows up wanting this, a fan club, wanting worship, they turn out to be an adult that’s a little bit like this, “We all know that I’m better than you. Why don’t you admit it? Admire me. Worship me. Tell me I’m special. Notice me.” Do you know anyone like this? Are they fun to be around [laughter]? Well, not that [inaudible]. But that’s how they look at us. There is a neediness in people today for attention and validation because quite often, people feel so unimportant that it’s like they feel that they don’t exist unless someone else is paying attention to them. They are saying continuously, “Notice me. Please, notice me.” If you’re like me, I’ll confess, you whip your cell phone out 100 times a day to pull up Facebook, to find out if somebody, what? Likes you hey, I put that cute little cat video up this morning. It’s been five minutes, has anybody liked it yet? Darn. Only 50 people. And it’s like we keep score. Do people really like me? So we find another cat video because you always need more cat videos or more whatever. And we are constantly checking our phones to see if people like what we said because we have this need to be liked that is sometimes extremely deep and profound. And here’s the problem with this. What the little boy say before there’s an injury? “Look at me.” And then? Some parents are afraid when their kids start driving. I was never afraid. I raised three sons, I was never afraid when they started driving. Every single one of them was better drivers than me. But what scared me to death was giving them a bicycle because now they were too fast for me to run and catch them. And I still remember my oldest son daring the other boys in our little neighborhood in Quincy, he was faster than they were, so he took off and they took off and they were racing down the street. And before even a half a block he was way ahead of them and he was looking back at them, and he was laughing, and laughing, and laughing because they were behind, and then he drove straight into the front of a parked van. And I said to myself, “I got to take his bike away till he’s 16 [laughter].”
But see, this is a human problem we all have but the more you want someone to like you, the more you want someone to validate you, the more you look to someone other than God to appreciate you, it’s just like, “Look at me.” Something bad is going to happen. Something bad is going to happen. So beware. Jesus says watch out for this desire for the attention and validation of others. Beware. Verse Two. [Inaudible] when you give alms, sound no trumpet. Do not ask for the attention, approval of others. Sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets. For what purpose? They want the praise of other people. That’s what they really want. Here’s what Jesus says in turn, “Truly I say to you, they receive their reward.” It’s not that God is punishing them, it’s that God looks into their hearts and God sees what they really want. All they wanted was the approval of others. So God lets them have what they want. It’s not a part of their heart to desire approval from God. But what Jesus says is that what we want to live is in what you could call a no blow your own horn zone specifically, verse 3 he says is, “When you give alms,” when you give money, when you give something good, when you do a good deed, when you act kindly, “When you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” I’m not quite sure exactly what that means, but the do not let know is pretty clear because here is the whole point, verse 4. So that your alms, so that your kindness, so that your good deeds, may be of secret because guess what? When there are a secret, your Father who notices everything, your Father who sees what is done secretly, your Father will reward you. If that’s what you want, all you have to do is keep quiet. God notices everything.
Now this no-blow-your-own-horn zone concept, it requires some thought and prayer. When we need to ask ourselves, who is it that we really want to notice us? Because if what we want is for God to notice us, then we need to repent from this very human thing of wanting other people to tell us how special we are. We want to have a different perspective and mind set because what we want is for God to tell us how special we are. And the parable of the talents for Matthew 25, what the master says to the servants is, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” That’s what we want to hear from God. And Jesus says if you want to hear that, then don’t let your right hand know what your left hand is doing. Just do good. Let God notice.
You know what’s in that cup? You’ve heard me say this before. What’s in that cup on a day in Minneapolis when it’s 30 degrees below zero wind chill is hot coffee, but it’s not just coffee. What’s in that cup is love, and joy, and peace. And I see you. I care about you. I notice you. You’re important to me. What’s in that cup is patience, and kindness, and generosity. What’s in that cup is trustworthiness, and gentleness, and self-control. Let the good things you do pile up. And let God notice. A lot of good will come from us letting God notice. Shh, shh.
Dear God, please fill my mouth with worthwhile stuff. Please fill my hands with my time, with worthwhile deeds. The Lord [inaudible] [thee?] when I said enough. Thank you all. Lord Jesus, may we notice you so that we can sense your voice inside our hearts, saying, “That cold person needs a hot cup of coffee. That lonely person needs us to say hello to them. That person who feels down on themselves needs us to compliment in some way that lifts their spirits.” Help us Lord to notice others and not have our focus be on asking them to notice us. Amen