August 11, 2021
The Sermon on the Mount is the most studied and repeated of Jesus' teaching as He gives us a comprehensive look at God's kingdom. This is not only what the kingdom will be in eternity, but what it can also be now for everyone who lets the King rule in their heart and life.
There are 105 verses in these three chapters (Matthew 5-7). It is fascinating that Jesus devotes 18 verses (almost 20%) to how to live so as not to be "seen by men." He starts with this statement:
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)
Then, in three sections, He speaks of giving, praying, and fasting. There are phenomenal instructions about each of these practices, but the beginning of each teaching is a warning against impure motivations and a reminder of the limited reward of such hypocrisy.
On Giving …
"So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full." (vs. 2)
On praying …
When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full." (vs. 5)
The purpose of these spiritual exercises is to encounter God and help others. But we have an awful time with our pride. We turn selfless spiritual practices into selfish humanistic acts. Pride drives us to do any and everything to be noticed and applauded by others.
In God's economy, actions motivated for human praise will be the only accolades we get. But if we live to please God alone, we will receive a great reward in heaven, and our earthly actions will be unscented by the noxious smell of pride.
Lord, help me to see any arrogance that is driving me to be noticed. Let me lay down silly motivations and do all that I do, led by Your Spirit, to honor and glorify You! Help me live, not for the applause of men but for the approval of God.
March 29, 2023
As a pastor for the last 55 years, I have had the joy of being encouraged and blessed and prayed for by so many people. It is what carries you in your task of shepherding people. As I look back over five decades of ministry, their love has dramatically enriched my life.
But also, a pastor leads. And when anyone leads, there are almost always some who disagree.
March 28, 2023
March 27, 2023