Today's Word of Encouragement
Saturday, June 27, 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).
Righteousness is defined as ‘being and doing what is morally right; to be holy, set apart from sin’. We have no righteousness of our own. We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away (Isaiah 64:6). God is the only One in the universe who possesses true righteousness, therefore self-righteousness mocks God; it is a sham and a lie.
Religion is ‘the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods’ It is often expressed in ceremonial observances and is often the epitome of self-righteousness because, quite often the focus is not on God, but on self. To the Samaritan woman Jesus said, . . . the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship Him (John 4:23).
True religion worships the Father in spirit and in truth. It is not caught up in ceremony, ritual, tradition, or liturgy. It is from the heart, not just the hand. It springs from the spirit, not the self. When the Magi came to visit the child Jesus in Bethlehem, they asked King Herod, Where is He who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw His star when it rose and have come to worship Him . . . And going into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother, and they fell down and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered Him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh (Matthew 2:2,11).
Obviously there is a functional component to true worship. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world (James 1:27). But that which results from worship does not focus on self, it focuses on the Lord, then on others.
The problem Jesus had with the Scribes and Pharisees of His day was their self-righteousness. It was a righteousness they created for themselves. It was a worship of themselves. It was a religion created that exalted themselves. Many religions and religious practices today are of the same stripe. They are ungodly because they do not focus on God, but on gods. Sadly, man is the greatest of his gods.
“A great deal of religion amounts to nothing more than rearranging religious ‘ashes’ to impress the world with one’s supposed humility and devotion. The problem, of course, is that the humility is a sham, and the devotion is to self, not God” (John MacArthur).
“Father, may my worship always focus on You, Your Son, Jesus Christ, and Your Holy Spirit, and on nothing or no one else. May it be a function of my heart and not just my head or hand. May it celebrate Your love, grace, and mercy, and not my thoughts, ideas, and actions. May the righteousness of my life reflect Jesus, in whose righteousness I am clothed, and not in the rotten self-righteousness that I create for myself, the self-righteousness You despise. Amen.”