Theme of the Week: Is the Christian Religion Hypocritical or Real?
Bible Verses: “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
“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.” Matthew 6:1 NIV
Scripture Reading: Matthew 5:16, Matthew 6:1
Did Jesus already forget what he mentioned earlier in his message on the Sermon on the Mount? Aren’t these two contradictory points? Let your light shine before others so they can see good works, but don’t practice them in front of others. Huh?
In the book “The Message of the Sermon on the Mount,” author John Stott explains this very well. He writes:
The contradiction is only verbal, not substantial. The clue lies in the fact that Jesus is speaking against different sins. It is our human cowardice which made him say “Let your light shine before men,” and our human vanity which made him tell us to beware of practicing our piety before men. A. B. Bruce sums it up well when he writes that we are to “show when tempted to hide” and “hide when tempted to show.” Our good works must be public so that our light shines; our religious devotions must be secret lest we boast about them. Besides, the end of both instructions of Jesus is the same, namely the glory of God.
Motives really matter to Jesus. He’s raising the bar for practicing our faith by focusing on the inward life, zeroing in on our motives. I love how John Stott puts it – in the end, it’s all about the glory and who gets it.
The simple question is this: At the end of our lives here on earth, will people say how good we were or how good God was through us? I pray that – for my life and yours – all our reward is stored up in heaven, because God received all the glory while we lived here!
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