Acts of Righteousness
Mat 6:16-18 NKJV "Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. (17) "But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, (18) "so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
There is a concept here in verse 16 that i had never thought of before. You see I understand that we should not be doing things for men to see (though we all do that). I have read multiple places about how this is a pharisaical attitude that all you are really looking for is recognition from those around you. But as I was studying, this idea came into my thought.
When I act like a Pharisee, when my motivation is to be seen and recognized for what I am doing, do others just see through me? What example of Christ am I setting? Do I bring shame to Christ when my actions are all about me and my glory? Have I actually discouraged people from knowing Christ because I wanted to be “all that?”
Mat 6:2 NIV "So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.
Over and over the references kept leading my back the Mat 23, the woes against the Pharisees (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woes_of_the_Pharisees)
Are we, when we try to appear “all that,” guilty of these same things? What about as a church? If we “do” all the churchy things for the world to see, are we harming the Gospel message? What is our motivation behind our actions? Whose attention are we trying to get? To Whom does our action direct focus? Are we actors or are we real?
There is an interesting word in verse 16. Hypocrite. What exactly is a hypocrite? (from Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionary)
1: a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion
2: a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings
The original word in the Greek means an actor under an assumed character (stage player). It comes from root words that mean “to decide.” So this is not behavior out of ignorance, but out of a choice to act falsely. It is interesting that the root word for this, hupokrinomai, only occurs in one place in the Bible, and is this case it is a verb not an adjective.
Luk 20:20 NIV Keeping a close watch on him, they sent spies, who pretended to be honest. They hoped to catch Jesus in something he said so that they might hand him over to the power and authority of the governor.
Can it be that when we decide to display our “piety” that our “piety” is nothing more than an act? If that is true, then what value is there in the act, be that fasting, or praying, or giving? Are we “on stage” or are we living life, and how can we tell the difference.
What am I doing in my life that is for “appearance” sake only and how how it hurt the cause of Christ?