"Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven
Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may gave glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward .
But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing .
That your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly ."
Much of what is recorded in chapters 5-7 of Matthew deals with the righteousness of the Kingdom. The first 18 verses of chapter 6 specifically speak of the lack of ostentation. The word "ostentation" basically implies an exaggerated outward show or conspicuous display intended to impress others. There are three things specifically mentioned in Matthew 6 that are NOT to be done with any exaggerated outward and conspicuous display intended to impress others.
a. DOING YOUR ALMS (DOING CHARITABLE DEEDS GIVING TO THE NEEDY)
In organized religion, I can think of nothing done with MORE exaggerated outward and conspicuous display than these three things. Most people give huge donations to charity for the recognition involved and to prove to everyone else how generous they are. Many people take great pride in standing up in public and rambling through a long drawn out prayer to impress everyone with their piety. Almost everyone who fasts feels it necessary to let everyone on earth know what they are doing to show how righteous they are.
Charitable giving, prayer and fasting are not bad things at all. They are vital ingredients to manifesting the righteousness of Jesus Christ in us. But, none of these three things are to be public matters. Each one is a private thing between the individual and God. No one else is to know anything so as to not draw attention to one's self.
In many respects, these three things constitute our "religious duties" as Christians. The Book of James speaks of true religion being the caring for orphans and widows. Prayer and fasting are things we do in our bodies to yield them in service to the Master. It is important to look at Matthew 5:20 before proceeding:
"For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes, and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven ."
The scribes and Pharisees were experts at charitable giving, prayers and fasting. Everyone knew how righteous these men were, for they made sure everyone could see it. The problem with the scribes and Pharisees was not that they were not outwardly righteous; it was that on the inside, they were empty, wicked and unclean.
Our challenge is to maintain these good works and to do them from a pure heart and for the right reasons. The hardest thing for most people to do is to give anonymously. People want the recognition and credit for that which they give. However natural this response is, it is not what Jesus taught as being what God wants.
Many people love hearing themselves pray in a gathering of believers. I have heard people pray for 20 minutes and by the time they were done no one else had any desire to pray. Prayer is a deeply personal and private devotion. Prayer may be done in public for certain reasons, but never to draw attention to the one praying, only the one being prayed TO and FOR.
Fasting is strictly between a believer and God. The only ones who need to know are those who might be affected by mood swings or other issues arising from lack of eating. I can think of no time when fasting should become a "public" spectacle. Those who insist on telling everyone about their fasting are no different than those who tell the world how much money they give each year to charity .
The simple truth is that when it comes to matters of devotion or religious service; NEVER do them to draw attention to yourself. The simple challenge presented here is one of removing the ME from our Christian devotions and service. It is NOT all about me. We give, pray and fast to obey God and for the sake and service of others. It is NOT because of how righteous we are or because of "How great I art".
I agree with what you've said here, b2y. Many Christian acts of worship are done with wrong motives. That is something those at fault will answer for on the "final day." I'd just like to point out, however, that others in the worship service shouldn't assume that a public prayer, or sermon, or anything else is being done with these improper thoughts in mind.
Quite the opposite, we should believe in the sincerity of heart that our brothers and sisters have. I feel certain that if someone is disingenuous in any public worship capacity, it will become evident to all. Just a thought to consider...
Thanks for your message. It is important that our acts of worship need to come from the true desire to please God!
Bless all who share in the Lord!
Some people give for the wrong reasons - recognition and praise. Orthers, think, give for the right reasons, but out of ignorance, proudly tell others about it. Either way, I guess, it is wrong. - bibleguy64
There is a pharisitical spirit which pervades the Church even today. As someone who grew up in a denomination with roots in the Holiness movement, I am well aware of that. I witnessed a constant battle against legalism. It is something that every Christian must be aware of. If you are not, it will quietly slip in and grab hold of you.
It may be very easy for us to resist what we commonly think of as sin. We easily see it and avoid or take action against it. What you speak of, however, is another matter altogether. If the enemy can't "break you", he will attempt to "bend you". You might not be out committing adultery, robbing a grocery store, etc. however, he will attempt to destroy you and your testimony by attempting to infuse you with pride. Over the years I have seen spiritual arrogance destroy people, not just the person themselves but others around them as well.