Friday, June 27, 2014

June 27 - Right Thing, Wrong Reason

Today's Reading:
Jeremiah 51:54-52:34
Matthew 6:1-24
Proverbs 10:1-10
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Focus Verses:

Matthew 6:1 
1"Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

Even righteous deeds can be done with unrighteous motives. Self-sacrifice can be self-centered. In order to guard against self-centered motives, Jesus taught that we should be secretive about our devotion and spiritual practices. True devotion toward God does not seek to draw attention to self. Private piety is less likely to be pretentious.

When we give to the poor, we should do so quietly. When we pray, we should seek out a place where we can be alone. When we fast, we should avoid any appearance or behavior that attracts special notice or concern. The same is true of nearly everything we do for God and for others.

The problem, of course, is not that others know or notice acts of righteousness (of course they will because"a city on a hill is not easily hid"). The real problem Jesus is getting at is the motives of our hearts. In order to be truly righteous, we must acknowledge our potential for selfishness and false motives. We must realize that true righteousness is directed toward God, not centered in self. We must not let righteous deeds become a way to achieve self-gain, self-esteem, self-aggrandizement, or self-gratification. The way of true righteousness is self-denial.

Response and Action:
I will do all I can to practice righteous deeds in quiet and unassuming ways. I will guard against drawing attention to myself. And if something I do for God does draw undue attention to me, I will be careful to give God the glory. I will seek God's blessing, not the praise of people.

O God, give me a heart to do what is right, and to do it for you. It is your glory and your approval that I desire, not the notice or applause of others. Help me, by faith, to do the good things you have prepared in advance for me to do. Help me to be faithful, fruitful, and effective as your servant: as a husband, father, son, brother, friend, neighbor, pastor, and colleague. Through Jesus Christ my Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses:  
Isaiah 29:13
13 The Lord says: "These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.

The Message of the Sermon on the Mount: Christian Counter-Culture
by John Stott

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