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August 8, 2011 / Daniel

Give glory to your Father with secret righteousness

In Matthew 6:1-18, Jesus focuses on three “righteous” activities: giving (6:2-4), prayer (6:5-15), and fasting (6:16-18).  He contrasts how the “hypocrites” do these things and how his disciples should do these things.

Matthew 6:1 is the theme verse for the section.  It is the introduction to the chapter.

“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.”

The key is our motivation.  The hypocrites do righteous things for their own glory.  “To be seen by others.” (This phrase occurs five times in the section).  The Bible calls this “self-righteousness.”   Jesus commands his disciples do righteous things for the Father’s glory.  “In secret.” (This phrase is repeated six times).   There are eternal rewards for righteousness done in secret.

What’s the reward?  Based on the Beatitudes, I would guess that the reward is the kingdom.  God’s sovereign rule over his creation.  One day God will show up and will show off.  God is going to renew His creation.   He will undo the curse of sin and death.  We’re talking about resurrection.  Secret righteousness is kingdom righteousness.

The reward of the hypocrites is temporary.  The praise of men does not last forever.  People like you one moment and hate you the next.  But the reward for righteousness done in secret is eternal.   God’s approval lasts forever.

If your motive is to promote self, then your reward is the praise of men.  But if your motive is to promote God, then your reward is the praise of God.

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