Today's Word of Encouragement
Monday, June 29, 2020
. . . when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward (Matthew 6:2).
The word ‘hypocrite’ comes from the theater where actors on a stage play different roles, act in contradiction to his/her stated beliefs or feelings, or who do not speak their own sentiments, but the sentiments of others.
In the New Testament a hypocrite is someone who hides his/her real sentiments, and assumes or expresses feelings other than his/her own; someone who, for purposes of self promotion by impressing others, personal gain, or applause, put on the appearance of true religion. Such were the Scribes and Pharisees in the days of Jesus.
One of the ways in which the rabbis their hypocrisy was the manner in which they gave ‘alms’. Here the term ‘alms’ means benevolence, an expression of compassion, or helping the needy. It is evident that such religionists went out of their way to announce what they were doing so people would notice and praise them for their compassion and generosity. They would do this by ‘sounding the trumpet’ - having trumpeters precede them to worship to gain the attention of others.
Was Jesus being literal or metaphorical in using this example? There seems to be no record of the rabbis doing this, but some scholars believe Jesus could be talking about 13 trumpet-shaped chests located in the Temple treasury. These ‘trumpets’ were used to receive the contributions of worshipers (Luke 21:2). Some have said that when the rabbis gave their offerings, they would reduce their coins to the smallest ‘units’ (i.e. 100 pennies instead of a dollar bill) so that when they put their offering in the ‘horn’ (which was metal) it would make a loud, prolonged sound heard by everyone in the vicinity. People would then praise the rabbis for their generosity in giving. Whether or not this was true, it was consistent with the attitude of the Scribes and Pharisees.
Jesus labeled this kind of ‘ceremonial’ worship hypocritical. They made people think they were worshiping God, but instead they were wanting people to worship them. They pretended to give God glory in their generosity, but they were seeking the glory for themselves. According to A.T. Robertson, hypocrisy was the “hardest word that Jesus has for any class of people and he employs it for these pious pretenders who pose as perfect.”
What are our motives in worship? When we give to those in need, are we genuine in our expressions of compassion or are we hypocritical - making ourselves feel good, impressing others, etc. When we sing, or pray, or preach, it is because we want to ‘wow’ those who hear us, or are we sincerely giving these offerings to praise God; to glorify Him?
“Father, thank You for the opportunities to worship You through acts of kindness toward others as well as offering You praise in song, prayer, preaching, and in everything I do. Keep my motives in check so that I will not be hypocritical before You and others. Amen.”