Beware of Practicing Your Righteousness

Read Matthew 6:1-4

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

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

“Hypocrites originally referred to Greek actors who wore different masks to play various roles. Jesus criticizes the religious leaders, most notably the Pharisees, for a particular form of hypocrisy: doing the right things for the wrong reasons. To give to the needy was one of the pillars of piety, but the religious leaders gave to the needy in order to be praised by others.” (ESV Study Bible)

We can do good things with bad motives. We can do wrong even as we’re doing right. In other words, we can be doing good things, religious things to be noticed by our friends, neighbors, even pastors and not for an audience of One. In our giving and our living if we are more concerned with how we appear to others, than we are concerned with obedience and delight unto the LORD, we may be doing the very thing Jesus warns us about in this passage.

We may be practicing our righteousness to be seen. Jesus again is warning us that our heart motives matter more than the action of our hands. If we are trying to earn God’s favor, or approval of others, by what we do, than we’re missing the entire point of the Gospel. We work with our hands because God has done a work in our hearts.

If we only read our bibles to post a picture of it on Instagram, we may be missing it.
If we serve the poor to get a pat on the back, we may be missing it.
If our service to the church is so our pastor will thank us, we may be missing it.

We live for an audience of One. We serve and give out of an overflow of God’s grace His given to us. We don’t work for earthly reward, we work for heavenly reward. If we are still trying to impress others and receive their approval, we need to sink deeply into our identity in Christ and remember we are already approved because of His work on the Cross.

We give because He gave first. We do for others, because Jesus has done for us.

We live for an audience of One.

1.  List some of the ways Jesus tells us to give and serve according to this passage.

2.  What are some ways you may seek approval from others or give in order to be seen others?

3.  Jesus is not saying we are never to give, but to pay attention to the motive of our hearts.  What are some ways you can give to others with right motives?  Take some time to pray about how God might have you give your time, talent, and treasure to those around you this week.

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