December 10

Text: 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.”  (NASB)

Matthew saw Jesus as a man who understood that following God was internal as well as external.  Today’s text was the introduction to an emphasis in “the sermon on the mount.”  In this emphasis, Jesus focused on benevolent acts, prayers, and fasting.  These were the three primary expressions of everyday spirituality for Jewish individuals in Jesus’ time.  In Jesus’ focus, he emphasized that all three were internal as well as external.  The motive for doing the act was as essential as was the act itself.

The Jewish emphasis was on “doing right things.”  “Doing right things” was a desirable but a woefully incomplete emphasis for seeking spirituality.  “Doing right things” easily can be performed to attract human attention instead of honoring God.  The question: Were the actions seeking spirituality or praise?

Jesus’ emphasis was NOT on impressing other people, but WAS on submitting to the God who sees and knows.  The act was important, but a key question was, “Why are you doing the act?”  Are you doing the act for yourself to create an impression? Are you doing the act for other people to fulfill their expectations?  Are you doing the act for God to honor Him?

A second question that must immediately follow was, “What type of verification do you seek?”  If you seek human verification, you seek a verbal or visual response.  If you do it for glorification of God, you know God sees even if humans do not note the act.  Divine awareness is not dependent on human verification.  The spiritual person trusts God’s observation and knowledge.

God is glorified in what a Christian does even if no person knows what the Christian does.  The Christian is willing to be an example and a good influence, but those things just happen through his or her actions of being.  The basic motivation for all acts is the glorification of the God who sees even secret acts.

Suggestion for reflection: Describe your confidence in God.  (Read 2 Corinthians 5:11-21.)

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