October 2, 2021
Scripture: “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
Observation: The middle part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount addresses a temptation that all of us struggle to resist: seeking recognition. Whether it be giving to the needy (verses 2-4), our prayer life (verses 5-15), or fasting (verses 16-18), we want others to take notice and think well of us. Even if we are one of those few who carry little concern for what others think of us, we all reach a point where we can succumb to resentment when we are not being appreciated for our efforts.
Takeaway: So, how do we avoid the pitfall of seeking recognition for our righteous deeds? Jesus provides a couple of upward perspectives. First, exercise patience and focus on our reward in heaven (verses 19-21). Secondly, nurture our love and devotion for our heavenly Master (verse 24). It starts by being honest about ourselves and confessing where we are submitting to worldly masters who will never satisfy our deepest longing to be unconditionally loved. And we need to deepen our understanding of the Father and Son’s love for us revealed in the Cross. Only Jesus was righteous in all manners of life, even unto death. Resultantly, the Father imputed his Son’s righteousness to us—not earned but graciously given to us. It is a humbling perspective that checks us from flaunting our righteous deeds and helps us to keep looking up.
Prayer: Father God, thank you for covering us in the righteousness of your Son. Thank you for your Holy Spirit, who is maturing us in our faith and leading us to a righteous way of living. Please help us resist flaunting godly disciplines and instead keep an upward perspective on the reward awaiting us in your Son. Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling