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.” NASU
This is a powerful passage and when you continue reading you see some incredible things in the context. But before I mention any of them let me state emphatically that “outward” religion or Christianity for the purpose of the “praise of men” or “to be noticed” is not pleasing to God. It does not draw people to Christ because those on the outside of the Family of God often see through faux righteousness and piousness before many within the family. Additionally, those on the outside are often very skeptical and cynical about our faith and relationship with God, therefore it is imperative that we conduct ourselves chastely and our character above reproach.
Jesus goes so far as to say that if we do what we do religiously for the purpose of being noticed and praised by men, the Father will reject our works. I pray daily, “Lord, let the words of my mouth and the mediation of my heart be acceptable and pleasing in your sight.” I ask that He make me a man after His own heart and purge from me all unrighteousness. I pray, as did David, “Create in me a clean heart, renew in me a right spirit, and please do not reject me or take your Holy Spirit from me and restore to me the joy of Your Salvation while upholding me with your Free Spirit.” If that is the condition of my heart I will be able to teach transgressors the Ways of God and see those who are lost won into the family of God. I want to be a vessel that God can use and need no recognition of man and continually ask that He help me develop an attitude that makes me impervious to the criticisms of men and immune from the Spirit of Rejection that drives many to seek the approval of men. If we do what we do out of a “pure heart” others will be impacted positively for God and we will, through our lives, “Lift Jesus Up” and when that happens people will be drawn to Him like moths to a flame.
The next verse reveals a very practical application of our Lord’s words regarding our good works and our giving. There is something incredibly powerful about anonymous giving for it strips the devil of any opportunity to lessen the impact for good. It also robs the devil of any opportunity to impregnate our hearts with pride and the praise of men. If you do what you do for show and the approval of people, that is your reward and your action focuses more on you than God and thereby limits the potential benefit outside the immediate results of your actions.
The same is true about prayer. If we pray, as did the Pharisees, for public show, notice, and recognition we weaken the results. I participate in a ministry where the major focus and theme is Prayer. We encourage people to pray and in so doing find it necessary to talk about our personal prayer lives, but we do not do so to call attention to ourselves but to inspire others to utilize that weapon of spiritual warfare. Some, pray lengthy prayers of repetition thinking that if they pray long and use flowering words somehow God will be impressed and respond. As Jesus spoke about this, still connected to verse one, He gave us the pattern of prayer in verses 9-13 and the powerful statement in verses 14-15 about Forgiveness and being Forgiven. The entire chapter, if read with verse one in mind, will be a catalyst to transform your thinking and actions in a most wonderful way.
He concluded His remarks in verses 25-34 and I urge everyone to read and reread the entire chapter time and again UNTIL it explodes within your spirit with recognition of His Purpose and Power. We are who we are IN HIM and need to be nothing else for we are the Temple of God and He lives within us. We are epistles (letters) know and read among men. The only question is, “What are they reading when they read your life?”
May the Lord richly bless you as you enjoy this day in Him.