BIBLE STUDY: Piety That Honors God

Piety That Honors God/True Worship/Pitfalls of Showing off

 Study Date: Feb 9, 2020 
Scripture: Matthew 6:1-8

MEMORY SELECTION: “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do you will have no reward in heaven.”  

Matthew 6:1 KJV

GUIDING PRINCIPLE: “What we do is much more related to why we do it” the moral and ethical acts we choose; it is equally concerned with the spirit in which we do them.

RESOURCES FOR THE SEED: Isaiah 63: 15-16; 64:8-9; Romans 8:12-17; James 1:12-15


UNDERSTAND: Jesus’ teachings about not practicing one’s piety in order to be noticed by others. 
REPENT: of making a show of religiosity in order to receive praise from others. 
PRACTICE: simplicity and humility in our devotional lives.


  1. What contrasts about attitudes and actions are made in Matthew 6:1-8?
  2. What does Jesus say the Father will do as a result of the proper attitude in giving and in praying?
  3. How can public prayer maintain the proper attitude that Jesus describes?
  4. What examples can you offer when public prayer did not demonstrate the proper attitude? 
  5. How can we avoid giving with the wrong attitude? What would be modern examples of an improper attitude in giving?
  6. Ask yourself “would I do this act of piety or morality if no one saw it or ever learned of it?’  
  7. What is your motive behind what we do? What is that reward Jesus is citing in this passage.

 THE SEED: The Wrong Way to Practice Good Deeds (Matthew 6: 1-2)

1. The Warning: Jesus began this section of His Sermon on the Mount by giving a general warning against doing good deeds simply for the sake of earning public approval. This is what the ancient religious leaders loved to do, especially in their giving (see Matthew 8:2-4) and in their praying (see Matthew 8:5-8).

 2. The Act: To be seen by men exposed the motives of the Pharisees and teachers of the law, but the danger was not limited to them. From the Galilean hillside, Jesus warned His disciples, the crowds of ordinary people gathered there, and us today. Jesus warned against giving for the sake of earning the approval of other people.

 3. The Motive: Those who set out to impress others with their giving and piety will get what they want, will be the notice and praise of other people. That is their reward; it goes no further. Their good deeds do NOT impress God.

B. The Right Way to Practice Good Deeds (Matthew 6: 3-4)

1. The Act: Jesus commanded that gifts should be given privately.

 2. The Motive: The motivation for giving should be to obey and please God.

 3. The Reward:  God not only sees our acts of giving and praying, He knows what inspires them. God “sees what is done in secret” and God rewards God-honoring gifts and prayers.

No amount of giving can purchase salvation; for salvation is the gift of God (Eph. 2:8-9). And to live for the praise of men is a foolish thing because the glory of man does not last (1 Peter 1:24). It is the glory and praise of God that really counts!


A. Do Not Show Off When You Pray. (Matthew 6:5-6)

1. Jesus Spoke Against Praying to Impress People.

 The word “hypocrites” means play-actors or show-offs. The public could immediately identify these religious Leaders. They knew the people who loved to make an impression of “piety” on their peers. They made sure that people noticed them praying, both in the synagogues and on the streets.

 2. Jesus Described the Correct Attitude and Setting for Prayer.

 a. In effect, the hypocrites prayed to the public, not to God. The crucial issue is not where you pray, but to whom you pray. To guard against praying just for your reputation, it’s much better to pray alone in secret where no one can see or hear you.

 b. Jesus contrasted being seen by people in public with being seen by God in private.

 “Pray to thy Father which is in secret,” Jesus said. Although we can’t see God, He can see us. The reward for such prayer is meeting God Himself. Such a reward is greater than any temporary praise from others.

 B. Do Not Use Many Words When You Pray. (Matthew 6:7-8)

  1. Jesus First Warned Against Being Hypocritical in Prayer, Then He Warned Against Vain Repetition. God does NOT answer prayer in proportion to how long we pray. Long, repetitious prayers are based on the faulty assumption that this is how to gain God’s attention or favor. That was how the pagans prayed.

2. The Apostle Paul Taught That Christians Are to Pray Constantly (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

 (1 Thessalonians 5:17) Pray without ceasing.

 (1) This verse means that we are to be ready to pray at any time. (2) But it does not mean using the same words and phrases. Prayer is hard work, requiring intense concentration. Prayer is not the routine mouthing of pious phrases and generalities. It must be specific and personal. God DOES answer prayer!

 We must pray in secret before we pray in public Matthew 6:6:  It is NOT WRONG to pray in public in the assembly (1 Tim. 2:1), or even when blessing food (John 6:11) or seeking God’s help (John 11:41-42; Acts 27:35). But it is WRONG to pray in public if we are NOT in the habit of praying in PRIVATE. Observers may think that we are practicing prayer in private when we are not, and this is hypocrisy.

 We must pray sincerely (Matthew 6:7-8). The fact that a request is repeated does NOT make it a “vain repetition”; for both Jesus and Paul repeated their petitions (Matt. 26:36-46; 2 Cor. 12:7-8). A request becomes a “vain repetition” if it is only a babbling of words without a sincere heart desire to seek and do God’s will. The mere reciting of memorized prayers can be vain repetition. 


  1. Have you equated or associated moral and ethical action with the Kingdom of God?
  2. How do you define the kingdom of God?
  3. Where do you see the Kingdom of God alive and moving in the world today?
  4. How is Jesus’ moral behavior and the Kingdom associated?

FRUIT FROM THE SEED: Motivation was an extremely important issues for Jesus. Christianity begins in the heart, and them the heart creates outer action. Jesus clearly taught it is the way we think in our heart and the motivation of the heart that has everything to do with Christian living. It is for this reason that Jesus asked that we not judge another. The judging begins in our own heart. And, it begins with me asking one basic, important question,” Why do I do what I do?’

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