Today’s Reading: Matthew 6:1-24 (additional reading: Psalm 7:1-17 & Proverbs 2:1-5)
To the Jew, there were three great cardinal works of religious life:
Jesus did not have a problem with these things. He just had a problem with doing them with the wrong motive. A person may give charity not to really help the person in need, but to demonstrate his own generosity so he can receive praise for doing it. You can pray in such a way that your prayer is not really addressed to God, but to man. You may fast, not really for the good of your own soul, but to simply show off your self-disciplined character.
Some Christians believe that they have to work at becoming more righteous. There is a danger in not seeking God’s righteousness, but are trying to establish our own righteousness by law-keeping and right conduct. Righteousness is not about right conduct. It is a gift from God to us through Jesus. We cannot earn it by our law-keeping and right conduct. We can only receive it! How do we receive this gift? We receive it through the cross. God made Jesus “who knew no sin to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him”. 2 Corinthians 5: 21.
Some of us think that in the body of Christ, there are different classes of righteousness, like the seating classes in an aeroplane. They think that some of us have economy-class righteousness, others have business-class righteousness and a select few have earned first-class righteousness. That is nonsense! When God gave us Jesus, He became our righteousness. So we have His righteousness. This means that we are 100 per cent righteous in God’s eyes! We cannot but have first-class righteousness! Because it’s nothing about what we do, but all about what He has done.
When someone is walking around with their religion or piety a display for everyone to see, sometimes we say “They are wearing their halo to tight.” When your halo is too tight all kinds of complications set in. When you wear a hat too tight, you will get a headache, but when you wear your halo too tight you give other people a headache. You turn them off and make Christianity distasteful.
Jesus said in our first verse of today’s reading Matthew 6:1 “Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.’ It’s not good to go around blowing your own horn. When our good deeds are done for the right reasons, the attention and glory are focused on our “Father who is in heaven,” rather than on ourselves.
How can we live to bring glory to God and not seek praise from people?
Father, Thank You for the gift of Jesus righteousness. Thank You that You made us right when we could do nothing ourselves. Help us to live for You and not for others. In Jesus’ name, Amen