Saturday, March 9
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
1 “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.
2 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. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
5 And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
16 And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
19 Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
You are probably familiar with the types of activities you can do to build bodily strength: weight training, aerobic activities, stretching exercises, etc. But what about building spiritual strength? How do you go about doing that?
To grow spiritually, we engage in spiritual disciplines such as reading the Bible, praying, and fasting. As we engage in spiritual disciplines, it is not to show off our spiritual muscles, but to grow closer to God. Jesus tells us to check the intention of our hearts before engaging in such activity. If it is simply to be admired by others and slide up on the spiritual scale amongst the believers in your community, then don’t bother. Jesus tells us to go about our spiritual disciplines quite differently.
We are to refrain from publicizing our good deeds and spiritual activities and focus on doing them for God and not for show or praise, in order that these disciplines would indeed draw us closer to God. For if all we seek is the praise of others, we can get that, but it only lasts a moment. However, if we are truly seeking God in our spiritual activities, we will gain spiritual muscle not just for this life but for the life to come. Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 4:7b-8 (NASB): Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.
Heavenly Father, who sees in secret, help us to abstain from making our good deeds and spiritual activities known. Let us not seek praise from others that is fleeting and fades away, but may we strive for godliness and draw closer to You, O Lord our God....