“Revival is God’s people doing God’s work, God’s way.” Vance Havner (2008)

“The Sermon on the Mount is a statement of the life we will live when the Holy Spirit is having His way with us.” Oswald Chambers (1995)

I recently learned an important lesson about doing things God’s way. When a local Sunday School class invited us to lead a study of the Sermon on the Mount (SOTM), I suggested a twenty-six-week series. The class leadership countered with twelve weeks or less and only thirty minutes of teaching each week!

How do you cover fifty-plus sayings of Jesus in such a limited timeframe? Concerned twelve weeks would not allow for anything more than a compromised exploration of the most important sermon ever preached and that generalizing the Sermon would not adequately encourage the doing necessary to produce strong houses (Matthew 7:24-25), I pressed for more time. The leaders stood firm.

Much to my surprise, the syllabus we developed together turned out to be God’s way for the study. He used what I would call an overly simplified approach to reveal several foundations of His kingdom and its good news. Honestly, I am amazed at the revelation and encouragement I received from the study.

In the process, I also learned that deep technical dives into Scripture are not always the best method for teaching, and that God orchestrates teaching opportunities with more consideration for the audience’s needs than the teacher’s abilities and preference.

Lastly, I was once again reminded that God has a way for everything; finding and following His ways always leads to exciting adventures and discoveries.

It should come as no surprise that Jesus has much to say about doing things God’s way: the only way He did everything (John 5:19, 30; John 12:49-50; and John 14:24). In this article, we will explore two of God’s ways for doing the sayings of Jesus. But first…

A Correction

In a previous article, we introduced the Salt and Light passage (Matthew 5:13-16) as the first part of a paradox, and the following passage as the second: How can you be salt and light without letting people know what you are doing? We have since come to realize that this is not a paradox, but a very deliberate contrast.

Our salt and light are manifestations of the life of Jesus Christ within us which glorify the Father. Those who would do the sayings of Jesus to be seen by men are attempting to capture that glory for themselves.

Charitable Deeds Done in Secret

Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly. Matthew 6:1-4

As we move to Matthew 6, we discover that Jesus also had some “do not do” sayings. These provide a strong reminder that avoiding ungodly behavior is as important as doing the right things. We must expose and resist the deceptions and distractions of our carnal mind, as well as the temptations of the Devil and this world.

Our flesh is fed by the praise of others (two forces working together). Our unrenewed mind reasons, “Why shouldn’t our charitable deeds be noticed? They are good examples for others.” The obvious answer is “Because Jesus said so.”, and that is enough; but it is not all we have been given to understand.

In the kingdom of God, there is enmity between God and the world. He will not mix His reward with the rewards of the world. This is a strong and sobering warning. There is absolutely no room for mixture. We must be careful and persistent in the searching of our hearts (Psalm 139:23-24). What is the motivation for our charitable deeds?

Furthermore, we must be careful not to fall into old and subtle habits. The best intentions can be subverted by what may seem to be harmless patterns. For example, writing your check while sitting in church is allowing the left hand to know what the right hand is doing.

Our seeking after glory from men, intentionally or not, is a danger to our brother and sister in Christ. When the left hand sees the right hand doing charitable deeds, their eyes are distracted from the Giver of all good things, and they are tempted to give glory to the instrument of that giving. In too many circumstances, the left hand begins giving glory in his heart to man; even envying that man for what he has to give.

Lastly, it is the Father’s heart to reward His children, even openly. For the one whose heart is set on the Father’s pleasure, such reward comes with a surprising sweetness. Why would the Potter reward such lumps of clay? Because He loves us, and He can.

The keys to our doing this “do not do” saying of Jesus is intentionality and discipline in “not doing”, and remembering that we are only instruments of His righteousness. We have become the righteousness of God, but not righteousness itself. We become that righteousness through the exchange of our life for that of Christ Jesus. He is our righteousness.

But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.” 1Corinthians 1:30-31

Praying in the Secret Place

And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. Matthew 6:5-6

On the surface, this saying appears to be nothing more than a repeat of the last with application to our prayer life. This is true. There is something of a “do not do” tone, a warning against seeking rewards from the world and a promise of the same kingdom consequence or reward. There is, however, a deeper revelation we should consider.

In this passage, Jesus Christ has given precise step-by-step instructions for the way we are to pray: go into your room and shut your door. The simple fact that He has prescribed a process for our prayer life is significant. Following the process creates a secret place with God the Father. Doing things God’s way leads to intimacy with Him. I suspect this applies to more than just prayer.

God has a way for everything that we must do in His kingdom. Jesus came to show us those ways. What we consider to be insignificant differences (e.g., leaving the door open) may be a critical success factor in God’s economy.

Furthermore, we must be careful about adding things to God’s way for something. The inventions of man are many times just repackaged ways of the world. This passage encourages us that intimacy with God is not a complicated thing.

To be honest and transparent, I have not completed an exhaustive study of the ways of God for prayer; so, there might be other prescriptions and examples. I hope you will find and share them. I suspect that this passage applies to small groups – perhaps even large ones. The most obvious example is the disciples waiting “in prayer and supplication” for the promised Holy Spirit.

In closing, be encouraged that God enjoys engaging in conversation with His children. He is keen and intentional to communicate His ways for our lives. It would be wise, before beginning any kingdom endeavor, to ask, “Father, how do we do this Your way?”

For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:9

Doing things God’s way is doing things supernaturally. It is the “more than” (and normal) Christian life.


It is important to recognize that God rewards those who do things His way. As much as we might think it virtuous to ignore rewards (and avoid teaching about them), they are an important matter for our consideration. Jesus spoke of rewards and consequences often (e.g., the parables of the Talents and the Ten Virgins). He must have recognized the promise of heavenly reward as a legitimate motivator.

Furthermore, kingdom rewards are an expression of God’s love and a witness of His grace. The notion of rewards is an encouragement that helps balance our teaching on the conditions and costs of becoming a kingdom citizen. A proper understanding of rewards reminds us of the costs of missed opportunities and the potential for consequential punishment (again, the Talents and Virgins parables).

God bless you with wisdom, courage, and patience to seek the ways of God for your life and ministry.

Humbly yours and forever His,


Chambers, O., (1995), Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers.

Havner, V. (2008, January 2). Steadying the Ark of God [Audio file]. Retrieved from https://www.sermonindex.net/modules/mydownloads/singlefile.php?lid=16357&commentView=itemComments