Not Being a Hypocrite

Sermon On the Mount Study

Lesson 7 from Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

Here is the question this weeks’ study starts off with: “Which of my words or actions might a person find hypocritical?” For me, reflecting on that question is convicting.

Jesus says we are not to:

  • do our acts of righteousness before men, to be seen by them
  • announce our giving to the needy with trumpets to be honored by men, as the hypocrites do
  • pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men
  • look somber when we fast, as the hypocrites do

    What reward does our pride desire from doing something “good”? Seems to me it wants recognition and praise from those around us.

    What reward should we want? Favor from God alone, our heavenly Father.

    The four phrases describing why the hypocrites do what they do are: 1) To be seen by men, 2) to be honored by men, 3) to be seen by men and 4) to show men.

    What happens when we get all this attention? It pleases us. So our reward then is our personal pleasure.

    My study book points out we shouldn’t get absorbed in the mechanics of secrecy, it’s the heart of the matter Jesus is getting to. The point isn’t that we can never pray in public or that a fast becomes pointless if someone knows about it (like your wife, who wonders why you aren’t eating supper). The point is we are to be behaving in such a manner as to gain favor from God, not to please ourselves. This goes against the instant gratification we desire.

    Incidentally, we will be rewarded by God for that type of attitude. Doesn’t it seem like everything Jesus taught is 180 degrees from conventional wisdom?

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