The Gospel of Matthew: Practicing our Righteousness.

“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)

Continuing His Sermon on the Mount in today’s text, Jesus continued to address the subject of His disciples’ righteousness. How were followers of Jesus Christ to righteously live? Jesus began with a warning.

Jesus began this warning with one word; “Beware!” Beware (προσέχω; prosecho) is a present, active imperative verb. It is an active command from God to His followers. The word means to take care, to pay attention, and consider carefully. In other words, it means to be on the lookout.

What sin was Jesus warning His disciples to not practice? It was the sin of religious hypocrisy. It was a continual sin practiced by the Pharisees; in their giving to the poor (vv. 2-4), prayer (vv. 5-15), and fasting (vv. 16-18).

Jesus warned His disciples to not practice their righteousness before other people. To practice (ποιέω; poieo) means to carry it out and conduct it. It is a lifestyle. What Jesus does not want His disciples to do was/is to do works of righteousness before others in order to gain their admiration and praise. Perhaps you have done this. I am ashamed to say that I have. It can become a besetting sin.

If we do our works of righteousness to be seen by other people for their admiration and praise, then we shall receive no admiration or praise from our heavenly Father. The reason is because we have chosen to receive the praise of men rather than the praise from God. How ironic that believers in Christ opt for a temporal reward and forsake an eternal reward.

Are you tempted and enticed by the praise of others? If so, how so? Do you want to serve the Lord, as long as serving involves and results in public praise and recognition? Jesus issued a stern warning against such an attitude and behavior.

“Christ’s teaching is profoundly counter-cultural on many occasions, not in the sense that He calls us to despise all state authorities, but in the sense that His instruction goes completely against the natural, sinful inclinations of mankind,” explains Dr. R. C. Sproul.

“The Lord’s Sermon on the Mount has thus far emphasized our need to serve God with whole-hearted devotion. Only those who are committed to Jesus in heart, soul, and mind can live the life depicted in this sermon, from enduring persecution for righteousness’ sake (5:10) to being so focused on our Creator that we care not if others ever notice our fervent piety (6:1–18).”  

May we resolve to serve the Lord; even if no one notices our service but the Lord. Have a blessed day.

Soli deo Gloria!  

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