Todaty's Word of Encouragement
Sunday, June 28, 2020
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).
Why do we do the things we do? If we think about it, we do what we do because of our motives. Our motives can be ego-centric or other-centric - we can do what we do because it’s in our own best interest or because it’s in the interest of others.
In His warning of the danger of self-righteous religiosity, Jesus alludes to the ‘reward’ from God our heavenly Father. It may not seem all that odd to Christians today to think of being rewarded by God for doing good deeds, but it was the primary motivation behind the actions of the Scribes and Pharisees. They wanted the admiration of the people. They expected good things from God for their religiosity. But again, Jesus warned His hearers about this.
The idea that God rewards good behavior and punishes bad behavior was very common in the Old Testament. All you have to do is read through Deuteronomy 28 to create a list of do’s and don’ts that garner God’s attention. The problem with the lists is the temptation to hide the don’ts from people while parading the do’s in front of people. Human pride and ego is behind this hypocrisy, along with the desire to enjoy the rewards while avoiding the punishments.
Jesus warned His disciples that parading our good deeds, our religious activities, our do’s in public does not guarantee a reward. The reason for this is that, while people see our religiosity and applaud our ‘piety’, God looks at the heart and takes note of our motives. This is why Jesus took the time in chapter 5 to address the Moral Law - you have heard that it was said to those of old . . . .
The Scribes and Pharisees were masters at manipulating the written Law in their favor. But Jesus pointed out that the letter of the Law meant nothing if obedience to it was backed by false motives. If the heart is right before God, then the motive for obedience to His Law will be right, and the results will be:
• we will be pleasing to God,
• our obedience will benefit others, and
• we will be rewarded with spiritual growth in His Kingdom.
That’s what the Sermon on the Mount is all about - entering into, and maturing spiritually in the Kingdom of God and spiritual perfection in the life to come.
“Father, Your word hits me right where I live. Your servant, King David, said, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” That is my desire, that You look beyond what I do and take note of my motives. It is my longing to serve You and to be of service to others, not because I want the recognition, but because I want to give the recognition to You - I want Your name to be great in the hearts and minds of others. Remind me of my motives, Lord. May they always be righteous in Your eyes. Amen.”