“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.”
– Matthew 6:1 (Jesus speaking; our 13th segment of the Sermon on the Mount)
We focused on this verse about four months ago. I won’t repeat here what I said there. Instead, I’d like to examine this verse in light of the linchpin role it plays in the Sermon on the Mount.
We’ve spent the last twelve days walking through Jesus’ sermon, one logical section at a time. When I say “logical,” I mean what seemed logical to me in light of the fact that I’m providing you a daily devotional of no more than 500 words at a time. That’s resulted in our covering as many as ten verses a day to as few as one (as was the case yesterday and again today).
We’ve now covered about one-third of the sermon. As a review, here’s an outline of what we’ve covered so far. The reason there are seven bullet points for what we spent twelve days covering is that I grouped like items to make the outline more succinct.
- Preface (Matt 5:1-2)
- Nine beatitudes (Matt 5:3-12)
- An exhortation that disciples are “salt” and “light” in the world (Matt 5:13-16)
- An assurance that all of the Old Testament will be fulfilled (Matt 5:17-18)
- A warning that Jesus’ commandments are going to be demanding (Matt 5:19-20)
- Six “You have heard…but I say” examples of Jesus’ teaching (Matt 5:21-47)
- A summary exhortation that disciples are being trained for godliness (Matt 5:48)
This brings us to today’s transition verse. I say “transition” because it sets up the next three examples Jesus is going to give. In warning the disciples not to practice their righteousness before men, Jesus is going to give three examples of what He means.
- In giving to the poor
- In praying
- In fasting
As you might expect, we’ll spend a day each on what Jesus says about these. By the way, when discussing praying, Jesus will digress to teach the Lord’s Prayer. We’ll allocate another day just for that digression.
We live in a world full of people practicing their righteous (such as it is) before each other. Let’s learn to practice it before the only One who really matters!
(Remember that prayer is more about listening than talking. Use the words below to start yourself, but then allow time to reflect more on the Scripture above before you say the “Amen.” During that time of quiet reflection, let God shape your thoughts and wait for a sense of peace to come. That’s your signal to say “Amen” and go forth to the day.)
Lord, help me remember what I’ve learned so far from Your Sermon on the Mount so I can better practice it today…(this is where you remain quiet to let Him work in your thoughts)… Amen.
(All scriptures, unless otherwise noted, are taken from the NASB.)