Abundant Living: Following Jesus in a City (Part 1)

January 14, 2024

Series: Abundant Living

Book: Matthew

Abundant Living: Following Jesus in a City (Part 1)

This sermon is part of our Abundant Living series. You can watch more here.


Sermon manuscript:

This morning we are going to be in Matthew 6.  You can turn to page 63 in your devotional or Matthew 6 in your bible.

Last Sunday I was out sick.  I sent a text to our elders on Thursday letting them know I needed someone to teach and Roberto Moctezuma stepped into the challenge.  Didn’t he do a great job last Sunday?

I know you see me and Jas up on the stage on Sundays but Jas and I aren’t the ones leading our church family.  Our church family is elder led, which means we have a group of godly men who voluntarily take spiritual responsibility for our church in Austin.

They serve us, they pray for us, they spiritually fight for us and I am deeply thankful for them.  Let’s give a round of applause for our elders!

Last Sunday, Roberto went over a passage in Matthew 11 where Jesus makes this radical claim to turn to Him and find rest in Him.  (Pause) Take that in.

This is a claim that no other person or ideology makes in the world.  Everyone else, every other idea says, “Do these things and maybe you can find rest” but Jesus says, “Turn to Me, Come to Me” and in Jesus we find rest.

This is the secret church in Austin.  If you have given up on God, if you have told yourself, God doesn’t work in your life, if you are overwhelmed by life, the answer is to turn to Jesus.

Jesus wants us to be with Him.  Jesus wants us to get to know Him.  Jesus wants us to read about Him, talk to Him, walk with Him, sing to Him, think about Him, work unto Him, and we see that truth captured in our passage this morning.  Let’s look at Matthew 6:1:

Matthew 6:1, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.”

In verse 1 we see Jesus giving a warning against “practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them.”  What does that mean?

The act of “practicing your righteousness” is to live godly lives and in verse 1 Jesus is giving us a warning against using godly characteristics to bring attention to ourselves.  Do you see that?

I know nobody in here would do that but sometimes we want to serve others so we can be seen as people who serve others.  Sometimes we offer to clean up the church so that people will see us people who clean up the church.  Right?

We don’t have to be on a stage to bring attention to ourselves.  Sometimes we want titles and responsibility as a non-demonational church in Austin, so that we can be seen as people who have titles and responsibilities.  Sometimes we want to pray out loud with flowery words so that people will see us people with powerful prayers, so that Jesus gives us a warning in verse, “Be careful.”

It’s why Jesus uses the word “noticed” in verse 1.  Circle that word “noticed.”  The word “noticed” in the original language is the word “They-a-mai.”  It is where we get the English word “theater.”  Jesus is using this word because people are using godly characteristics so as to say, “Look at me.”

This is important because in Matthew 5 Jesus is describing life in His kingdom on earth with characteristics like praying for your enemies, turn the other cheek, seeking peace with one another, let our light shine among men, that they may see our good works and glorify God, therefore, in Matthew 6, verse 1 we see Jesus clarify, “Be careful” we aren’t living out these characteristics to bring attention to ourselves.  Look at verse 2:

Matthew 6:2, “2 “So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.” 

In the first century it was common to sound a trumpet from the temple so as to call the people to come forward and sacrificially give to help others.

The original intent was to motivate and inspire the community to come together for the good of others, but over time the people started using this opportunity to bring attention to themselves, “Poomp, pomp, big giver comin!”

Jesus says, “This is what the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men.”  The word “hypocrite” in the original language means “actor,” so that again we see language of a theater.

In the first century acting wasn’t a character developed role like we know today but instead the actor would literally wear a mask in front of their face to look like someone else, so as to pretend, therefore, Jesus presses in on our soul, “What are you doing?”

In the kingdom of this world we have to win the approval of others.  In the kingdom of this world we have to compete physically, financially, socially to be noticed.  In the kingdom of this world we have to pretend but not so in His Kingdom.

This is the glory of the gospel.  We’re all born into the kingdom of this world.  We’re all born sinners trying to gain the attention of others.

But the good news of Jesus is that He has come to put His love upon you for no other reason than He decided to put His love upon you.  Does that make sense?

You don’t have to get His attention.  He sees you.  He has come for you.  In 2021 the Atlantic published an article called, “That feeling when you ‘feel seen.’” Its’ this longing we all have to be understood.  That’s the gospel.  Jesus sees you.  Jesus has come to call you His.

So that by grace through faith in Jesus we are all given eternal access to the throne of heaven.  We are clothed in the righteousness of Christ.  We are called sons and daughters, therefore, we who are in Christ don’t have to sound the trumpets to get His attention.  We’re in Christ!

We don’t have to give the appearance of holiness to gain His favor.  We have the favor of Christ.  That’s just a sample of the glorious rest we have in Christ.  Look at verses 3-4:

Matthew 6:3-4, “3 But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”

Jesus is so funny.  What do those verses even mean?  How do we give with our left hand so that our right hand doesn’t know?  How would we help others in secret?  I just have so many images in my mind right now of sneaking around.

Next to verses 3-4 you can write the word “motivation.”  What is our motivation for serving and helping others?  If the gospel is that the love of the Father has been placed upon you by grace, through faith in Jesus, for eternity, then why would we who are in Christ serve and help other people.  Does that make sense?

Our culture would teach us that our motivation of serving and helping others is so people see us serving and helping others.  It’s called “virtue signaling.”

We buy clothes that are natural, organic, and recycled fibers because we want people to know we actually care about people.  We drive electric vehicles because we actually care about the planet.  We don’t purchase coffee at Starbucks because we actually care about oppression.  Look at me!

Isn’t that what we see corporations are doing today?  We have trillion-dollar corporations with rainbow flags on the buildings, rainbow flags all over their products and it’s all for marketing.

In five years, the wind will blow a different direction and the marketing efforts will change because it’s all for show.

But in verses 3-4 Jesus says, “Not so in My kingdom.”  Jesus’ words are getting at the heart of our motivation.  In His kingdom we aren’t serving and helping to gain the love of the Father because the love of the Father is already upon you.

In the passage, the phrase “your Father” is used 5 times in verses 1-8 because Jesus is wanting to remind us that in Christ you are already with the Father.  In Christ, you are already in His Kingdom.  Hear that church in Austin.  Let the gospel wash over you this morning.

In sin, we are born into darkness but through faith in Jesus we have been ushered into His marvelous light.  We are no longer far from the Father but through faith in Jesus we have been brought near.  We are no longer strangers and enemies but through faith in Jesus we have become sons and daughters.

Therefore, as followers of Jesus, our motivation to serve, pray, help others isn’t to gain His approval, we have His eternal approval in Christ.  Our motivation is simply gratitude.  Write that in your notes.

In His kingdom we are filled with gratitude because we know what it is like to live outside His kingdom.  We know what it is like to chase after the approval of others.

We know the exhaustion and anxiety of always wondering where we stand with people and we know the peace and rest of living under His care and in His kingdom.  Look at verse 5:

Matthew 6:5, “5 “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.” 

It’s possible you have noticed Jesus keeps talking about reward.  In verse 1 Jesus says, “If you serve for the approval of others you will have no reward.”

In verses 2 and 5 Jesus says, “If you receive the applause of others, you have your reward in full.”  And in verses 4 and 6 Jesus speaks to the reward from the Father.”  Therefore, there should be a part of us this morning that is asking the question, “What’s up with these rewards?”

First, there is an earthly reward for pursuing the approval of others.  We get the applause, we get the compliments, we get the pats on the back.

It’s why the hypocrites in verse 5 stand in the synagogue and on the street corners praying robust, flowery prayers like, “Dear Lord, we come to you today so the manifestation of the nation doesn’t outweigh our destination.”  What happens?

People are impressed, people pat us on the back, people think more highly of us and in verse 5 Jesus says, “They have their reward in full.”

But it’s an earthly reward.  It’s an exhausting reward.  It’s a reward you always have to out-do, out-match, and keep raising the bar to get the response in return, so that in verse 6 Jesus says, “Not in My kingdom.”  Look at verse 6:

Matthew 6:6, “6 But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”

I don’t think Jesus literally means we can only pray in a room with the door closed, although we might.  I think more so Jesus is inviting us to pray as men and women and children who are living His heavenly kingdom on earth.

Verse 6 is an invitation to pray as men, women and children who are already clothed in the righteousness of Christ, so that we don’t have to use flowery words.

Verse 6 is an invitation to pray as men, women and children who already have the attention of our Heavenly Father, so we don’t even have to use words but He knows the grumbling of our soul.  That’s the reward of the Father.

God’s Word teaches us there is also a reward to come but for our passage this morning the reward of the Father is now and forth coming.

The reward of the Father knowing we are with the Father.  The reward of the Father is being able to hold the approval of man with an open hand.

The reward of the Father is knowing that we can call on Him for anything and we have His ear.  The reward of the Father is the joy of knowing your Heavenly Father.  The security of being in His will.

Do you see the rest that is made available in Christ?  Do you see the fullness of the abundant life that is made available in Christ?

If anyone has yet to believe in Jesus, I would encourage you to do that this morning.  It’s so exhausting living for the approval of others.

Even in the local church in north Austin, we can fall into this confusion that we need to do the right thing, say the right thing to receive the love of our Heavenly Father and Jesus shatters all of that by saying, “Come to Me.”  Won’t you do that this morning.

Trust in Jesus this morning.  We will have people at the back for prayer, go to them, come talk to me, but let’s all turn to Jesus this morning.  Let’s close out with verses 7-8:

Matthew 6:7-8, “7 “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. 8 So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”

Isn’t that good?  Let’s invite the worship team back to the stage.  Let’s lower the lights.  Let’s respond to the invitation of God’s Word this morning.

I hope you hear the love of the Father this morning.  It reminds me of what it was like when my children were little.  My children are grown now but when they were little they would drool on me, they would struggle to find syllables, they would sometimes just make sounds of emotion around joy, fear, tears and frustration.  And as their father, I loved every second of it.

Jesus is teaching us this morning, in His kingdom, we come to our Heavenly Father through stumbled prayers and our simple acts of serving, and He loves every second of it.

Sometimes it’s half-hearted, sometimes it’s one step forward and ten steps back, sometimes it’s beautiful when it all comes together and sometimes it’s a mess.  He loves it!

Hear that this morning.  I think it’s possible we believe this lie that our Heavenly Father only delights in the prayers and acts of service that all come together.  No, He loves it all.  Hear that this morning.

As a church in north Austin, we’re memorizing God’s Word together.  We’re pressing into our relationships with one another.  We’re asking the Lord to increase our prayers and we could buy into this lie that He only delights when we get it right 100%.  It’s not true.  He loves it all!

Let’s turn to Jesus this morning.  Let’s commit our lives to Him.  Let’s speak these truths over one another.  We will pray with me?


North Village Church

This sermon is brought to you by North Village Church, a non-denominational church in Austin. established in 2009 and built around Jesus and Bible teaching.

Are you looking for a church in Austin? At North Village Church we put Jesus at the center of our church family. We worship together every Sunday at 10:30am, encourage Christ centered fellowship through groups, and host special events such as Bible studies and Theological Training, to ensure that we are rooted in in God’s Word. We also serve our local community in association with several Austin based organizations.

North Village Church is made up of professionals, married couples, singles, and families who are wanting to experience the life-transforming power of Jesus. If you are a family with children or teens, we can support you with either or both our Kids Ministry and Youth Ministry.

Check out our North Village Church calendar highlights such as our Christmas Eve Service and Easter Sunday Service.

You are welcome to contact us if you would like more information.


NVC Online

Unable to attend this Christian Church in Austin? Don’t worry, because, through God’s provision, we have created NVC online, an Online Church streaming a worship service every Sunday from 10:30am Central Time. You can also watch our short, powerful sermons on demand and follow us on Instagram for daily Christ centered content.