Week 5: The following takes place between 3/29/09 and 4/4/09 Hypocrisy Matthew 6:1-8, 16-18 In these verses, Jesus begins to give a series of warnings on hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is a big deal for those who follow Christ. Jesus has been showing us He is more concerned with our attitude – what happens in our heart – than in what other see. We can appear spiritual, but not even know Christ. Even in knowing Christ, we can go through motions on doing things without being who Christ wants us to be. This can be a very subtle sin. Let’s see what Christ has to say about three specific disciplines. MONDAY: Matthew 6:1-4
Acts of Righteousness: In these verses, Jesus deals with our acts of righteousness. The first thing to notice is that Jesus does not condemn these actions. He does not suggest that we should not do them. In fact, we should. Jesus’ warning comes from our motivation for our acts. His example is in giving to the needy. Jesus illustrates His point by saying that when we give, He rewards what is done in secret. He condemns doing such acts before men for their recognition. Again, Jesus is not prescribing a specific way to give, but the condition of our heart when we do. The other point Jesus makes in this passage is that God sees everything. When others pay no attention, God does. So the choice we are left with is what reward to we want? What God can provide or the recognition of others?
Today’s Assignment: For today and tomorrow, ask God to show you the condition of your heart in regards to your acts of righteousness. Spend time praying about this. Don’t avoid these acts of faith, but do them from a clean heart. Allow God to reward you for what you do.
WEDNESDAY: Matthew 6:5-8
Prayer: Jesus’ next example about hypocrisy deals with our prayer life. Again, the implication is not that we shouldn’t pray. Prayer is how we communicate with God – sharing from our heart and listening to His. But just like in HOW we give, Jesus warns that we should take heed to our attitude when we pray. Jesus again refers to what we do in secret – which is in the deepest part of our heart. Just as in giving, prayer is done in public at times. God is not impressed with our words, but our attitude. We are not auditioning for God when we pray in public. Our most significant time spent in prayer should be done in private.
Today’s Assignment: Spend time today and tomorrow asking God to continue to search your heart for hypocrisy. Specifically, allow the Holy Spirit to comb through your heart to see if you are living a life pleasing to Him. Examine your attitude – not just when you pray before others, but when you simply speak before others. If you represent yourself as someone that you are not, that is hypocrisy.
FRIDAY: Matthew 6:16-18
Fasting: Jesus ends this trilogy of examples by condemning the hypocrisy of our general behavior. First, Jesus dealt with our actions. Then he dealt with our speech. Now, Jesus speaks to how we represent ourselves to others. Jesus illustrates this through the example of fasting. This is a discipline, like others, that can be manipulated to make us look more righteous or holy to others. This is what Jesus is warning us of. In all three examples of hypocrisy, Jesus tells us that He expects us to live our lives and be spiritually disciplined and to do them before God in secret. Our reward for these disciplines will either come from God or from this world. Either God will reward us by drawing us closer to Him or we will get recognition from men.
Today’s Assignment: Ask God, today and tomorrow, to continue to show you the condition of your heart. You have spent the last four days asking God to reveal any hypocritical gestures and words in our lives. Now ask God to show you if your lifestyle is hypocritical.
Memorize Scripture: II Corinthians 4:17-18