“Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.”
King James Version (KJV)
6:1 In the foregoing chapter our Lord particularly described the nature of inward holiness. In this he describes that purity of intention without which none of our outward actions are holy. This chapter contains four parts, The right intention and manner of giving alms, ver.1 - 4. The right intention, manner, form, and prerequisites of prayer, ver.5 - 15. The right intention, and manner of fasting, ver.16 - 18. The necessity of a pure intention in all things, unmixed either with the desire of riches, or worldly care, and fear of want, ver.19 - 34. This verse is a general caution against vain glory, in any of our good works: All these are here summed up together, in the comprehensive word righteousness. This general caution our Lord applies in the sequel to the three principal branches of it, relating to our neighbour, ver.2 - 4: to God, ver.5, 6: and to ourselves, ver.16 - 18. To be seen - Barely the being seen, while we are doing any of these things, is a circumstance purely indifferent. But the doing them with this view, to be seen and admired, this is what our Lord condemns.
Mt 6:1 The Sermon on the Mount (cont'd) SUMMARY OF MATTHEW 6: The Right and Wrong Way of Righteousness. Charity Not for Show. Our Alms-Giving Not to Be Sounded with a Trumpet. Prayer Not to Be Offered for Public Praise. The Model Prayer. Fasting to Be in Secret. Impossible to Serve God and Mammon. Trust in the Heavenly Father. The First Aim of Life. Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen. The Common Version is wrong in using the word "alms", and the Revised Version right, in using "righteousness". The Savior condemns ostentatious piety, and then he singles out three illustrations of his meaning. The Christian is not forbidden to practice righteousness before men, but to make it his object to be seen.