NTDS (7): Beware of Hypocrisy
Matt 6:1 "Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. NASU
Have you ever noticed that Christians get called hypocrites a lot? People can be quick to point out hypocrisy, especially in someone other than himself or herself. Well, Jesus did not care for hypocrisy either and in Matthew, chapter 6, He points out four examples of hypocrisy practiced by the Jewish religious leaders of His day.
In verse 1, Jesus outlines the general definition of religious hypocrisy. He says it is practicing righteousness (doing good deeds), with the motivation of being noticed by other people. He then gives four specific examples of this hypocrisy.
1. Announcing their generous giving to the needy (verse 2)
2. Praying in public for the expressed purpose of being noticed for their piety (verse 5)
3. Praying long prayers, with repetitive phrases so as to appear spiritual (verse 7)
4. Purposely looking sad or gloomy so that people noticed that they were fasting (v 16)
All these things were done for one reason. They desired to be looked upon as more Godly than those around them. We might think that Jesus was just speaking out against this hypocrisy but He was also giving a warning to His followers. DO NOT DO THESE THINGS! DO NOT BE LIKE THEM!
Jesus knew that all people, including His closest followers, could face the temptation to be hypocritical. Let’s be honest. We like it when other people look at us as “devout” don’t we? It can tickle our ears to hear someone say, “Oh, I wish I were as close to the Lord as that person,” after they have seen us do something appearing “Godly.” It makes us feel good.
Well according to verses 1 and 5, that “feel good” moment better be really good because that is all you will be getting. This passage teaches us that it is of no spiritual value when we do what appears to be good works with the motivation of looking good to others. So how do we deal with this?
The great thing about this section of scripture is that Jesus also teaches us how it should be done.
1. When we give, do it quietly and secretly so that no one notices.
2. When we pray, do it mostly in private. That does not mean we never pray in public but when we do, it should never be with the motivation of being noticed for our “piety.”
3. When we pray, keep it short and to the point. God already knows what we need. Follow the model that Jesus gives in verses 9-13.
4. When you fast (notice it says when, not if), make your appearance look good and healthy so that no one asks you if something is wrong.
These are specific examples, but ultimately we just want to have the right motivation for any good works that we do. That motivation should be to glorify God and to show Him our gratitude for His love for us! When we do things with that motivation, we need not worry what the world thinks of us. As long as what we do pleases our Father in heaven, that is all that should matter to us. The awesome thing is that when we do these things with that proper motivation, we will receive rewards from the Father. What could be better than that?
Let all of us take inventory of our own selves. Let’s check our motivation for doing what we do and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any hypocritical ways in us. Then let’s be led by Him to do our good works for His glory! Amen?
God bless you