I shared last week about my resolution to join with my church family in reading the whole bible this year, and would like to hold myself accountable by sharing a key personal learning point each week.
This week I would like to focus on Matthew 6, and the command to be inconspicuous, firstly in our giving, so that the generosity of spirit is untainted by personal profile:
“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honoured by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
– Matthew 6:1-4
Similarly, when we pray, Jesus teaches us to avoid doing so in a way which promotes ourselves:
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
– Matthew 6:5-8
And when we fast:
“When you fast, do not look sombre as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
– Matthew 6:16-18
We live in a continuing age of conspicuous consumption, where so many people admire the wealth and excess of the rich and famous. Yet Jesus teaches us not to store up
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
– Matthew 6:19-24
How better instead to be conspicuous only for the difference Christ makes in our lives: to be authentic in our love for God and others, to be unashamed of our testimonies, to boast only in the certainties which come from God – so to be known for worshipful lives of love and faith, humility before God and service to others.