“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.” Matthew 6:1
At first reading, these words seem to contradict what Jesus said earlier in Matthew 5:16: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” But when you look closer at Matthew 5:16 you find there is no contradiction because Jesus tells us the motive behind our good words should always be to glorify our Father in heaven.
Since the beginning of time, hypocrisy in the people of God has been a major hindrance to bringing glory to God. In fact, hypocrites are mentioned in scripture from Genesis through Revelation. Originally, a “hypocrite” was a Greek actor who wore a mask that portrayed, in an exaggerated way, the role that was being dramatized. After some time, the term came to be used for anyone who pretended to be something they were not. The Pharisees in Jesus’ day were really good at this, and unfortunately there are many today who are really good at this and it’s only growing worse. In 1 Timothy 4:1-2, Paul wrote, “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron.”
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus confronts hypocrites on their motive behind “doing charitable deeds.” This phrase is also translated “practicing righteousness” which basically means “doing what is right.” This Sunday we are going to open Matthew 6:1-18 where we will find Jesus pointing out three specific acts of righteousness the Pharisees did in order to gain the applause of men instead of the glory of God. These three acts - almsgiving, prayer, and fasting - are meant to bring glory to God, and the only way to accomplish that is if we “Stop Hypocrisy”.
God bless you all and hope to see you there!