Theme of the Week: Is the Christian Religion Hypocritical or Real?
Bible Verse: “Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me.” Isaiah 1:13 NIV
Scripture Reading: Matthew 6:1-4
Are we supposed to reject all honor and recognition?
I don’t think that’s what Jesus is talking about in these four verses. I think he’s meddling again, during this teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, by questioning what’s really going on in our inward life. I think he’s saying quite clearly that doing good things for your credit won’t work in this new way of living. Jesus is raising the bar on what kind of religion he is expecting.
The old way of acceptable living was that if you acted a certain way outwardly, you were not only fine, but rewarded. Jesus is saying it’s not about just outward living; it’s also about addressing your internal life. He’s saying it’s not enough just to look good on the outside; it’s time to look inward at your mind, your will and your emotions.
In that era, you were encouraged to show off how religious and righteous you were. This is why Jesus needed to speak so clearly to it, even going as far as calling those who were more interested in looking the part “hypocrites” or “actors.” It wasn’t real faith. Real faith demands a serious look at the inward life. It’s not a projected righteousness but a real one that is congruent and integral.
So, act rightly and be generous to honor God, not be honored by others, or you have received your reward in full, this passage clearly indicates.
Why does this matter to us? I think those of us who are followers of Christ care about this because the last thing any of us want is to do is take the focus off of God by putting it on ourselves. If we truly try our best to live in a way that all glory goes to God, then we can bless, encourage and give to others without any worry of taking glory away from God.
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