#DailyDevotion Who Do You Want To Be Praised?
Matthew 6:1–6, 16–21 [1[Jesus said:] “Be careful not to do your good works before people to be seen by them. If you do, your Father in heaven will not reward you. 2So when you give to the poor, don’t blow your horn, as hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets to be praised by people. I tell you, that’s really all the reward they’ll get. 3When you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4that your giving may be secret. Then your Father, Who sees what is secret, will reward you.” 5“When you pray, don’t be like hypocrites, who like to stand praying in synagogues and on street corners in order to be seen by people. I tell you, that’s really all the reward they’ll get. 6But when you pray, go into your own room, shut your door, and pray to your Father, Who is with you when you’re alone, and your Father, Who sees what is secret, will reward you…16“When you fast, don’t look sad like hypocrites. They disfigure their faces to show people they are fasting. I tell you, that’s really all the reward they’ll get. 17But when you fast, anoint your head, and wash your face 18so that no one will see you fasting except your Father, Who is with you when you’re alone. And your Father, Who sees what is secret, will reward you.” 19“Don’t store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy them and thieves break in and steal. 20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where no moth or rust destroys them and no thieves break in and steal. 21Where your treasure is, there your heart will be.
Between this text and the text from Joel, sometimes we may wonder about the practice of putting ashes on our foreheads. For some people, perhaps it is appropriate. They want everyone to know they are a good “X” and went to church and did their thing. So for them, they may to hear these words of Jesus and repent. For those who receive them to remind themselves they are mortal and need to repent and are reminded throughout the day, as they wipe their forehead and then ashes on whatever they are touching, they need to be repentant, it can be a good spiritual practice.
What do I mean? The one key to this text are these words, “to be seen by them” and its variants in this lesson. Jesus does not condemn people who do good works openly. He actually commends it here in chapter 5, 16“So let your light shine before people that they may see the good you do and praise your Father in heaven.” So we see it is the motivation of why we do things publicly whether good works, giving to the poor, praying or fasting. Are we doing them to be praised by people? We need to repent. Are we doing them so our Father in heaven is praised?
Finally, Jesus makes a direct attack upon one our major deities in our pantheon of gods we turn to for every good, strength and hope…worldly wealth, mammon. Jesus calls us to repent of serving and sacrificing to this false god. Instead, we should be sacrificing this false god every chance we can. So Jesus says don’t store up for yourselves treasures on earth but in heaven. Every time we are worried about money, how will we make it in this world, how will we be provided for in the future, take some of your worldly wealth and give it to one of Jesus’ representatives, the widow, the orphan, the poor, foreigners and his pastors. In doing so, you will store it for yourselves in heaven and be praised by them in eternity.
Jesus came to serve you and still does at the right hand of the Father.
Heavenly Father, may we do good works so you are praised and not ourselves. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen