Take heed: Devotional Commentary for November 8-14
This is the Word of God. May the Spirit of Truth give us Wisdom and Insight to receive what has been conveyed through His Word by His Inspiration.
And Jesus continued:
1Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.
2Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.
3But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
4that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.
Jesus continues with His Sermon on the Mount. Here in chapter six, He addresses several important points particularly significant to the believer's mindset, attitude, and behavior when expressing one's obedience to God through one's actions and practices. The passage before us focuses on two essential practices of Christian living that portray the believer's response to God as a Christian, charitable deeds and prayer. Jesus begins His teaching by warning—"Take heed"—His disciples, the listening crowd, and all believers regarding the demeanor of the Christian when carrying out charitable deeds and when praying.
A charitable act is a godly practice when done in the Name of God and for His sake. Therefore, our benevolence must be expressed in obedience to God and for His Glory. So Jesus warns us to express our generosity in secret with no fanfare or public applause.
Jesus candidly contrasts the believer's behavior against the hypocrite. Hypocrites often do charitable work to garner public attention and acclamation, even though the recipient still benefits from the act. The driving passion for the generosity of the hypocrite is self-centered. They are motivated by an enthusiastic public approbation for themselves. They are focused on themselves, not on God, His witness, or His glory. They seek self-commendation and work to impress the world around them with their generosity.
Jesus emphasizes that the hypocrites will reap what they sowed. Their reward is a mere public attention. Their self-centered attitude is displeasing to God. Their self-serving charitable work is unworthy before God and of no lasting value.
But God's redeemed should not be such. Everything believers do should be done as unto the Lord. Our charitable deeds must be furnished with a deliberate intention to glorify God and should be done inconspicuously, simply as an act of obedience to God. What we do for God and with God should not be subjected to public spectacle. The work of the Christian is always for the Glory of God and for His sake. God shall openly bless and honor what is privately and quietly done in His Name and for His sake.
And Jesus continued:
5And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.
6But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
7And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.
8Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.
Jesus continues to apply the same principle to the believer's life of prayer. That is, He contrasts the Christian against the hypocrite once again. This time, regarding prayer and the manner of its practice. He says you, the Christian, shall not pray like the hypocrite. Just like their charitable deeds, the hypocrites love to pray standing in most prominent places both inside and outside the synagogue, the temple, or the church. They pray to be noticed and to be highly esteemed by those who observe them. To be sure, their reward comes from the public whose attention they seek.
But God's redeemed children are not like that. The Christian goes into solitude to be alone with God when praying. The Christian enters into God's presence for a time of consecrated communion with God. The Christian opens his or her heart before God to offer praises and supplications by faith with thanksgiving. This is a quiet moment between God and His child.
The redeemed know and believe that God knows what is needed. We do not pray to inform God Who knows all things. But we come to God to commune with Him alone, to express our faith through prayer and worship, knowing our Father is loving, gracious, and merciful. We understand that God is pleased with true worship, a Spirit-inspired, Spirit-moved, and heartfelt worship. The Christian also knows and believes that God is not moved by performance, endless prayers, and excessively wordy ramblings.
The Lord is gracious to the humble, those who come to Him with a contrite spirit and a broken heart. Alone or in fellowship with other believers, prayer is a consecrated moment of communion with God for the believer, a precious time of solitude with God as it was for Jesus when He prayed in solitude.
In the opening chapter of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus expounds on Christian living in the context of the difference between God's Kingdom and the world. He addresses many significant characteristics of Christian living that must be observed by believers. Jesus also makes an extremely important distinction that sets Christian living apart from the lifestyle practiced by the unbelieving world.
In chapter five verse twenty, He says the believer would not be a citizen of the Kingdom of God unless one's righteousness is better than the Scribes and the Pharisees who practice hypocrisy and religious piety. In other words, the believer's faith must be more real than the ostentatious behavior of the hypocrite. Christ is our righteousness. Therefore, we are called to stand wholly in His Righteousness.
Out of this discourse emerges a clearer view of the distinction between the believer and the hypocrite. The sham that engulfed much of the human experience is now unmasked by the sacred Words of Jesus Christ. Mere outward piety and religious pretenses are now exposed for what they are, by the Word of God which searches our hearts and souls. There is no substance to hypocrisy, since the motives of the hypocrite are hollow reflections of false faith.
Hypocrisy is a meaningless performance before God. It is a complete foolishness. God sees the facade and knows that the heart of man is evil and desperately wicked. Since God is the Creator of all things, he cannot be deceived by outward show.
Therefore, as God's redeemed children, our life before our Father should be absolutely removed from a hypocritical practice of any kind or manner. We worship God and pray to our Father as directed and guided by the Spirit of God Who resides in our redeemed spirit. God's living Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.
We express our devotion to God through true worship, genuine prayer, and dedicated service. It is all to God and for His Glory. Our services and charitable acts toward others are as unto the Lord to the Glory of God and for His sake. We live in the presence of God. We pray in solitude with Him. We serve Him as we show His kindness to others in His Name. Worship, prayer, and service are manners of living for the child of God. God is real. So is our transformation.