Wednesday Word 9.04.2019
Matthew 6:1, 5, 16 New International Version
6:1 “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….5 “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… 16 “When you fast, do not look somber 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.
Our relationship with God is a tricky thing. On one hand, we are instructed to go out and tell anyone who will listen about the Good News of Jesus’ incredible love for us. It isn’t a mere suggestion. They call it the “Great Commission” for a reason! But on the other hand, our personal relationship with our Lord and Savior is meant to be an intimate one, more intimate than the bond you have with the parents who brought you into this world or any mate you have found.
It may seem somewhat contrary to these verses, but we are also instructed throughout the New Testament to seek a fellowship of believers with whom we can worship and serve. There is a fine line between bringing glory to God and attention for ourselves. We cannot help it…most of us are pretty self-involved. We want to do what is right and pleasing. We just have to make sure that it is God we are trying to please and not our own vanity. That is a question that each individual must honestly answer for themselves. Each of us must express our gratitude and service to God in our own individual ways, whether it is in our own everyday life or in our collective church setting. That we are using our gifts and talents to honor God is what matters. If I tell my friends about some ministry or other that we are planning, it is one thing if I am excited about the possibilities for sharing God’s love. It is a completely different story if I am bragging about how wonderful I am for participating. If I am seeking approval from other people, then that approval will be as far as it goes, because God knows what is in our hearts. He will know the difference.
It doesn’t seem like an easy lesson to discern the balance between the humble, quiet, constant obedience that God requires and the commitment we make to our modern church community. It really comes down to putting God ahead of ourselves. You may find yourself in a situation where you are asked to pray out loud in front of people. Standing up and delivering a dramatic monologue designed to impress the group with your piety would probably qualify as hypocritical. Earnestly conveying your thoughts to your Heavenly Father on behalf of the group would be more appropriate. What we share to encourage each other is beneficial. What we share to boast is not. Only you and your Maker know your motivation…something to pray about.
Your sister in Christ, Vicki