“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 NASB
In the previous chapter Jesus said, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16). Now we find here Jesus saying, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men.” However the emphasis is, “to be noticed by them.” If our heart is the applause and the approval of men then we have received our reward in full. What reward is that? The applause and the approval of men.
Clearly God wants us to live out a righteous life as a walking witness to His wondrous love and grace. However, we must ask ourselves, “Are we living a life that points other to Jesus or are we living a life that points others to ourselves?” If we are seeking glory for ourselves we dishonor God and have no reward. We must remember Lucifer was cast out of heaven for trying to steal God’s glory, and that God has clearly said, “I will not share My glory with another.” However, if we chose to live a life of righteousness in light of God’s mercy and grace for the purpose of pointing others to Him, our eternal reward will be great. Paul said in II Timothy 4:8, “in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”
We must also remember that when we live a life in pursuit of God the world will often reject us and possibly persecute us. We do not intentionally try to stand in contrast to the world for the sake of provoking it, for that is another form of self-righteousness. In reality no one is attracted to self righteousness and everyone will reject it. It is probably one of the greatest stumbling blocks to the Christian world today. We are to live a life in accordance to God’s standards. God’s ways are not our ways and therefore will contradict the ways of the world. I am a sinner saved by grace therefore the righteousness that I pursues is not my own, I have none; it is God’s, and God’s alone. God has called me to holiness because He is holy and I simply invite the world to join me in my pursuit of Him. Will you join me?