We begin Chapter 6 with this first verse which sets up a few comments on handling our egos.
“Take care not to practice your righteousness in the sight of people, to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 6:1
Jesus did not say that we would become children of God by exhibiting righteous behavior, rather He was teaching that godly behavior and righteous deeds would show that we are His children. Actions that reflect God, gracious words and deeds should be part of our daily response to our walk with God.
Practicing righteousness and godly living as Jesus teaches here is the path to spiritual maturity, but He gives a severe warning about the motive behind these works: beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them, is Christ’s serious warning to His disciples. Jesus is cautioning them to be careful not to do the right thing for the wrong reason.
God examines the thoughts of the hearts and the hidden motive behind our actions and we are warned that IF the motive behind what we say and do is done to be seen and applauded by other people, rather than carried out for the honor and glory of God.. it is the wrong motivation.. and will not be rewarded by our Father in heaven. Others may reward us handsomely with their high acclaim and other fleshly honors.. but no further reward will be received from our Father in heaven, because it was done from the wrong motive.
Ouch. Those words cut like a knife. God searches our hearts. He knows everything. He knows why, when, how, who and what we are doing everything for.
So….this begs the question….what are your motives? What are my motives? Why do we do what we do? So that others can see how great our work is? May it never be so.
We do these things so that our Father in heaven may be glorified. That’s it. End of the conversation.
As Nikolaus Zinzendorf once said….Preach the Gospel. Die. Be forgotten.