Progressive Relationship Required Donations Matthew 6:1-4 6| Hidden Revelation | Matthew 6:4 “that your charitable deed may be in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you plenty” (Matthew 6:4). The Greek word “krypto,” translated as “secret,” is presented as a substantival adjective, an adjective used as a noun. It is not merely an adjective that gives content to a noun, but it states the reality of a person, place, or thing. In our passage, it is a state of existence, the secret place. “Secret” may not be the best translation for the English language. It has the connotation of deceptive or hypocritical, which is the opposite of what Jesus said concerning charitable deeds. “Krypto” is more often translated as “hidden.” Jesus applied His premise to the religious practice of charitable deeds. If religious activities are to meet the high standard of “exceeding righteousness” (Matthew 5:20), they must be a result not of the actions of man but the “new creature,” man merged with God. God enhances all of man’s activities with His Divine nature. Physical action is not merely an activity but an avenue for imparting the nature of God. Think of a charitable deed, such as giving a new set of clothing. The garment worn will encompass the recipient with the presence of God. The merger of God and man now expresses itself through the charitable deed. We give a can of food through compassionate ministries. It is not merely food to feed the hungry. It is a can of food from God’s extended hand within the merger, the new creature. The hungry receive physical nutrients and spiritual enhancement. Jesus declared a single hindrance to religious accomplishment. It is trumpet blowing “as the hypocrites do in the synagogues, and in the streets, that they may have glory from men” (Matthew 6:2). Seeking self-glory from men’s applause nullifies the underlying purpose of the charitable deed. Self-seeking does not hinder the purpose but eliminates and destroys the meaning. Self-glory’s motive cannot be present in the merger between God and man, which is true for the glory received from men’s praise and the glory one gives himself. The imagery of the left hand and right hand working together is focused on the glory one gives himself. While the charitable deed may not be seen by others, “self” is seeing it. The person doing the charitable deeds receives his self-worth and value from accomplishing the deed, which destroys any extension of the Divine presence through the deed. Jesus did not make this judgment from the position of law or personal prejudice. He was not condemning or warning. This reality is dependent upon the heart of the Sermon on the Mount’s premise. “Blessed are the poor in spirit” (Matthew 5:3). This premise is a declaration of the human being’s absolute poverty. At the core of the human being’s inner spirit, there is no resource. Someone involved in a charitable deed produced from this state of helplessness automatically absorbs all credit, applause, and admiration for self-fulfillment. Such a person must cling to this stimulus because they have nothing else; they are helpless. A helpless individual must utilize every benefit possible from the deed to survive. But when a helpless person embraces his helplessness, and God fills him with His nature, God’s resource is abundant. The helpless person does not need the applause of men. He does not see the charitable deed as something he did to increases his self-value. The Divine merger within his helplessness accomplishes the religious deed. He is Divinely sourced and finds his self-worth in being an instrument of the Divine resource. His reward is in the expression of the Divine within the charitable deed. Mystery You might say, “I do not understand it! Explain it to me.” But I cannot because it is a mystery. A mystery is that which we cannot possibly know unless someone knowing reveals it to us. Yet, the one who knows does not factually extend information. No one will understand a mystery through academic training or thought, for it is beyond the reason of man. Yet, the man must engage his whole logic for any understanding of the mystery’s revelation. We encounter through experience, yet the mystery is beyond ordinary life experiences. You do not search to discover the mystery; the mystery encounters you! Yet, you must embrace the encounter. The Gospel story presents a transcendent, humanly inaccessible mystery of God. While it is beyond this world, it is rooted in our world’s history by God Himself, acting to reveal Himself to us. His salvation and judgment in the past, present, and future are all contained in terms of content in Christ! Paul spoke of the conflict he experienced for the Gospel’s sake, sharing “that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of the full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ” (Colossians 2:2, ESV). Paul’s reoccurring theme was Christ is the mystery of God! “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up in glory” (1 Timothy 3:16). The mystery is Jesus! While the mystery of God is contained in the person of Jesus, it is Jesus’ redemptive element that captures the mystery. It is not that Jesus is just a mysterious person or that He has knowledge on a level beyond us. The incarnation is the mystery! God becoming fully man to dwell among us is beyond reason. But this fact is only one element of the redemption of man’s soul. Through the fullness of the Spirit, Jesus lived victoriously over sin; but while a mystery in itself, it is another element of being the redemptive sacrifice for us. As Paul presented the mystery of Jesus, he focused on His crucifixion. “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). God did not present the crucifixion mystery with persuasive words of human wisdom, but He demonstrated it in His power. He intended that we would believe His power to be the key to the revelation of the mystery, not humanity’s wisdom (1 Corinthians 2:3-5). Therefore, the mystery of God is in the embrace of Jesus, who is beyond words of wisdom and explanation. We must experience Him in His crucified reality! The heart of His being is bleeding, suffering, and dying. The mystery of the Scriptures is in Jesus, the Redeemer! We must see our passage in light of Jesus, the mystery! We must do the righteousness or the charitable deed in secret, not hiding them so that no one can see it or know of it, or so that the person doing it is not aware of it. We hide the deeds in Christ. The mystery of redemption found in Jesus must permeate the activity. The charitable deed must not be merely a physical aid to the recipient. The goal of food provided for the hungry must not be the elimination of hunger. We must shelter homeless people, but not for the sake of physical comfort. The redemptive mystery must take place within the provision. We do not accomplish this by giving a Gospel tract or providing Bibles for the needy. It is in the mystery of His presence in the act of giving. The barrier to this wonder is embracing my helplessness and allowing Him to merge with the charitable deed. When I “toot my own horn,” I do not embrace my helplessness. When the applause of men is the charitable deed’s goal, I acclaim myself and not the mystery of Him. When I base self-esteem and goodness on charitable deeds, I nullify the flow of the mystery of His presence in the deeds. He is the Head directing my left hand and my right hand in the activities of the mystery of redemption. We must hide all charitable deeds in the mystery of Jesus! Mystery of the Hidden In our passage, the Greek word “krypto,” translated as “secret,” is used eighteen times in the New Testament. It is incredible how often the writer links the idea of hidden with the wonder of the mystery. Paul discussed his sufferings for the sake of the church. He said, “and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church” (Colossians 1:24). Paul continued to give content to this statement. God gave him the responsibility of ministry to those to whom he wrote, “to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints” (Colossians 1:25-26). The mystery is related to God’s Word, which is associated with the history of God’s plan and dream, as seen in the Old Testament. God hid His redemptive dream in a mystery. But God revealed this mystery to His saints! Since this is true, those who are not the saints of God still consider this a mystery. Paul rushed on to give the reality of this mystery. He said, “To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). The mystery is not a philosophy or theology; it is a Person. The wonder of the incarnate Christ, crucified, resurrected, and ascended to the right hand of God is the mystery. While this is true, the wonder of the mystery must include Christ’s location; “Christ in you, the hope of glory” completes the mystery of redemption. Christianity is the mystery of an intimate relationship with Jesus. This mystery projects Christianity beyond legal requirements, ceremonies, and a belief system. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus described the details of this relationship. It is a merger of God and man forming a new creature, the Kingdom person. This Kingdom person lives within the boundaries of his helplessness, enhanced continuously with the resource of God’s nature. This Kingdom person never acts out of his resource but is enabled by grace to call all of God’s resources his own. His mind is swept into the mind of God until he becomes an expression of God’s thought process. The very feelings of God infiltrate his emotions. What is so remarkable about this mystery of “Christ in you” is the physical activity. The physical activity of the Christian takes on the tone of the mystery. Every physical activity becomes an expression invaded by the mystery. Therefore, the presence of Jesus is not only expressed but is present in action. It is as if Jesus is doing the activity, which in reality, He is. It is a mystery! Paul expressed this reality by viewing his sufferings as an extension of the “afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church” (Colossians 1:24). For instance, Paul and Silas experienced the magistrates’ wrath when the power of Christ affected their fortune-telling business. The Magistrates dragged Paul and Silas from the marketplace, beat them with rods, placed them in the inner prison, and fastened their feet in the stocks. No one could deny the physical reality of this physical activity. The hidden mystery of the presence of Christ amid the action was utterly unknown by the magistrates. This mysterious presence active in the merger with Paul and Silas brought about an earthquake and an awakening in the Philippian jailer’s life (Acts 16:16-34). We find the explanation of such a radical activity the hidden mystery of His presence. Jesus applied the premise of the Sermon on the Mount to the four great activities of religion. Charitable deeds are not merely charitable deeds for the Kingdom person. The hypocrite “toots his own horn” and accomplishes the same charitable deed activity as the Kingdom person, but they are not the same! The hypocrite may even give more in the amount of money or other goods than the Kingdom person. But the mystery is hidden, and the secret is not shared, which does not move heaven or accomplish the Father’s dream. The hypocrite who would not recognize his helplessness grasps the activity of a charitable deed to gain every self-advantage he can. He missed the reward of participating in the redemptive plan of God hidden within the charitable deed. Paul said it well. “For you died and your life is hidden (krypto) with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). I do not understand the completeness of that statement; it is a mystery. But I want to experience all I know and do not know about it in my physical activities. May all of my actions, including charitable deeds be done in the secret presence of His person. May I know Christ in the merger experience of His fullness? I bring my prideful self as a sacrificial offering on the altar of His presence. Oh, that I might know Him in His death and resurrection (Philippians 3:10). Mystery of the Hidden Revealed The Biblical definition of a “mystery” is a secret hidden by someone and cannot be known unless the one who knows reveals it. Everything divine is primarily and practically a secret or hidden. It is only accessible to those who do not know it through revelation; this becomes apparent in the Scriptures, especially in the parables of the Kingdom (Matthew 13). In connection with these parables, Jesus revealed to His disciples the reason for speaking in parables. He said, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given” (Matthew 13:11). Do not interpret this to mean God is excluding some from His revelation. The Scriptures reveal the open heart of God; He desires to reveal Himself to all. However, the qualification of response and openness to the revelation is essential. In the parables of the Kingdom, Jesus shared the Kingdom as a hidden treasure. It is kept secret and buried beneath the surface, waiting to be revealed (Matthew 13:44). It is like a pearl of great price hiding among all of the pearls of the world (Matthew 13:45, 46). Just before He told these parables, Jesus clearly said this to His disciples. His heavenly Father hid the knowledge of salvation from the wise and the clever, but He revealed them to babes (Matthew 11:25). He stated this amid great praise and rejoicing. There is no doubt that the elimination of the revelation revolves around arrogance. The wise and clever focus on themselves; they feed off of their superior knowledge and the admiration they receive. The babes are those who know nothing and are open to revelation. In our passage, the purpose of charitable deeds is in revelation. The goal is not merely to supply the needy with adequate places to live. There is a revelation of God’s presence within the charitable deed given by the Kingdom person. God desperately wants to reveal Himself to the one in need through the avenue of a charitable deed. Is it not the Spirit of God merged with the believer that prompts the charitable deed? Is not the hand of the believer extending the hand of God to the needy? Did not God choose to bring a complete and finished revelation of Himself through a man, Jesus? Does He not want to extend this revelation through those who merge with Him? What can hide the expression of such a revelation? The arrogance and pride of the person expressing the physical action is the hindrance. When the individual participating in the charitable deed focuses on himself, God’s revelation is not present. If the hypocrite wants the praise of man or only his satisfaction from the deed, he nullifies the deed’s divine purpose. Think of the Divine presence’s power within the simple act of compassion when a person only wants to participate in what God is doing. The presence of God will touch the person receiving the benefit of the deed. He may not respond to the embrace of Jesus, but he is affected by it. Jesus rechallenges us with the embrace of our helplessness that He might fully merge with us. Our nature and His nature united reproduce the life of Christ for the world to see God again!