BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY…. “…when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others….when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others.” Matthew 6:2,5 ESV
Rick Warren begins his best-selling book, “The Purpose Driven Life” by stating, “It’s not all about you!” So much of our life can focus on ourselves. Our own goals, our own possessions, our own status. Jesus’ teaching on giving and praying could be summarized by borrowing Warren’s statement, “It’s not all about you!”
His introductory warning is, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:1 ESV)
That which we do in worship of the Lord and in service to the Lord is to strengthen our relationship with the Lord and our obedience to Him. We are to exalt the Lord and not ourselves. We are to make the Lord big in they eyes of people and not ourselves.
I’m not sure if there is a specific parallel in our world today, with the practice of the “super-spiritual” scribes and pharisees of Jesus day. But we can learn that the basic concept is the Lord is the one who sees our hearts and our actions. The impact we make on others and for God’s kingdom does not go without notice of the Lord.
It is like Jesus offers a choice. You can have your reward from people or from God. You can be big in the eyes of people or the eyes of God.
We also need to remember that what impresses people, may not impress God. For example, when someone with great means makes a large gift, it may not be that much of a sacrifice compared to little given by someone of lesser means. Jesus said, “I do not accept glory from human beings….” (Matthew 5:41 NIV) We are reminded, “What is highly valued by people is deeply offensive to God.” (Luke 16:15 CEB)
When it comes to prayer we are reminded it is not the eloquence of words, but the sincerity of the heart that moves the hand of God. There are times that I have been moved by the most simple, yet sincere prayers. I believe God is too.
My attention is drawn to the motivation Jesus condemns, “to be seen by others” “to be praised by others.” If we are respected and praise by others out of faithfulness to the Lord, that is one thing. But to be those who prioritize the favor of people over to the sacrifice of the favor of God is different. Let’s seek to always be those who live in and seek the Lord’s favor.
Prayer for today…. Lord help us to seek the private power over the public righteousness that comes when we seek to please you and not others. Allow our actions to be driven by a desire to be faithful to you, even when they are not pleasing to others. While there may not be modern Pharisees in our world, we are reminded in these verses about the values of Your kingdom.