Good Life Journal - Matthew 6
“Beware (or be aware) 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...do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing so that your giving may be in secret...And when you pray do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them..."excerpted from Matt 6: 1-8a
As I learn about avoiding self-righteousness, I start to see it through the Scriptures more and more. It is everywhere. My hope is only in the Cross; my effective service is always to God first and foremost...
Beware (or be aware) of practicing MY righteousness before people...
I appreciate the Holy Spirit convicting me over and over about this subject because if there is one thing I can slip into easily it is an attitude of religious superiority.
"I am saved..." Most of my life I have said or thought this proudly like I am now somehow better, different in positional authority, closer to God, etc. Really I am stoking the fire of my own self-righteousness. What is it called in the Scriptures? Besides being foolish (translate: stupid) I have become the Pharisee of my time and place.
How do I guard against that? Simply put: Review the Gospel with the face in the mirror.
This is more than "Jesus loves me, this I know..." however accurate and powerful this statement is. It is becoming a student of the Gospel and breaking down all the extraordinary and wonderful facets concerning the story of the Good News.
Here are a couple of things:
* Having a holy ambition is a good thing. Having an ambition to be "seen by men" is not. Be aware of the difference.
* As much as possible serve in secret. This one sentence puts the "marketing and sales" mentality that any believer can assume into the garbage. If God elevates, all good. Be sensitive to the difference.
* Practice praying strategically and then tactically. Practice praying without anyone's eyes but His on you. A device to practice with? Pray out of Psalms-make what the Psalmist says what you say-put it in your own words.
* Avoid empty phrases. 'Nuff said about that.
Two guys go to Temple. One of them is dressed to the nine's and is by accounts a highly religious guy, a Pharisee. He prays: "Thank You, God, for not making me like one of these heathen around me." The other guy, a tax collector, stands a ways off and prays: "O God, have mercy on me a sinner..." Jesus asks "which one of these will God hear? Hint: It won't be the first guy..." Read the story at Luke 18:13.
Lord God, You know that the ambition thing is something I struggle with daily-more than daily, moment by moment. I want to learn and remember about the Gospel more and more. It is a subject that I don't think has any ending or conclusion. I thank You for the little glimpse into the cost of the Atonement You as Father experienced. My experience was only a dim shadow but it spoke to me all the same. Bless my wife with better health, please. AMEN.