How much of what we do “for Jesus” is done to be seen by others? Probably too much. Jesus is clear that will get us nowhere. It could be a simple thing but pretentiousness tends to be insidious. What about that gift to charity and I check the box to list my name? What about our public offering time in church designed to shame the non-givers?
Where will that get us? Nowhere. It will get us zip, zilch, nada. Nothing.
God’s goal: God wants us to long in our heart to be in right standing with Him. It comes through Jesus and not what we do to be seen by others. Our focus needs to be on God not what others think. What others think means nothing. It is only what God thinks.
Should we practice righteousness? Jesus says “Blessed [happy] are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:6) It is a question of motivation.
- Is my righteousness to be right with God or right in front of others? There is a huge difference in hungering to be righteous and wanting to be seen by others as righteous.
- There is a huge distinction here that Jesus draws for us. It is a matter of the heart.
- It is important and we need to pay attention to it.
- Our reward in heaven is contingent on it.
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Matthew 6:1-4 (ESV)
Digging Deeper – What does it mean to be righteous?
Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness. – Genesis 15:6 NIV
The work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever. – Isaiah 32:17 KJV
But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. – Amos 5:24 ESV
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. – Matthew 5:6 NRSV
Christ came to reveal what righteousness really is, for nothing will do except righteousness, and no other conception of righteousness will do except Christ’s conception of it—his method and secret. – Matthew Arnold
Unclean in the sight of God is everyone who is unrighteous: clean therefore is everyone who is righteous; if not in the sight of men, yet in the sight of God, who judges without error. – St Augustine of Hippo
There is no way to kill a man’s righteousness but by his own consent. – John Bunyan
If there be ground for you to trust in your own righteousness, then all that Christ did to purchase salvation, and all that God did to prepare the way for it, is in vain. – Jonathan Edwards – Righteousness delivers from the sting of death, but not from the stroke of it. – Matthew Henry
Whereas obedience is righteousness in relation to God, love is righteousness in relation to others. – A. Plummer
The righteousness of Jesus is the righteousness of a Godward relationship of trust, dependence, receptivity. – (Arthur) Michael Ramsey