“Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.”
I work with a lot of leaders who put integrity at the top of their value list. They want to be known for being a leader of this trait. I remind them that integrity will cost you when the pressure is on as it requires more than a commitment to itself. It requires following through with what we say we will do, and what we tell ourselves is most important. How many times have each of us set our chin, focused our mind, closed our eyes and said, “I will live more consistently by my principles.”
In this passage, Jesus warns that we should hold fast to the principles He teaches. Jesus is not telling us what to do but what not to do. He warns against doing right things for wrong reasons—things such as trying to look good only because it will advance our career or help us to close a deal. Jesus called people who practice this kind of morality hypocrites. The essence of hypocrisy, or lack of integrity, is people-dependent behavior. It is acting one way if people are watching but acting another way when alone. Jesus asks that we resist the temptation to dance to everyone else’s tune so that we look good. Instead, He asks us to follow the steady beat set by our Heavenly Father.
Jesus’s key to integrity is that His followers will live their lives by the standard of their unchanging, ever-present heavenly Father. People will come and go in our lives, and their standards are fickle. Trying to please people for what we think is righteous will, at best, drive you crazy and, at worst, turn you into a hypocrite. God is unchanging and always present. If we take Jesus’ warning and live to make Him the foundation of our life, Jesus promises that we will reap eternal rewards.
As you contemplate your acts of righteousness, consider Jesus’s words of warning. I like Pastor Rick Warren’s questions to help you chew on Scripture. It has helped me many mornings as I reflect on my leadership and life.
- Is there an attitude to change? Is there something I need to think about differently?
- Is there a command to obey?
- Is there an example to follow? Are there positive examples to follow or negative examples in my life to avoid?
- Is there a prayer to pray? In the Bible, Paul, David, Solomon, Ruth, Esther, Elijah and Isaiah, among others, pray. You could use their prayers and know that God honors these prayers because they are in His Word.
It’s our last week of this series which means it’s our last week in the book of Matthew (for now). By now you may have the rhythms of Going Deeper set, but just in case you don’t, if you have a printer, visit BibleGateway.com and print out all of Chapter 6. You can use this printout all week and mark it up. If you don’t, you can write in your Bible. Next, read the chapter and ask yourself the five W’s and an H.
- Who is speaking and to whom?
- Where is it taking place?
- When did it happen?
- What happened?
- Why did it happen?
- How did it happen?