1 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
2 “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 others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
16 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL
VERSION ®. NIV®. COPYRIGHT © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by
Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Jesus points out that pride and self-righteousness can influence even the most sacred of activities. Kingdom citizens are not to seek out the praise of an earthly audience. Instead, they are to concern themselves mainly with the priorities of the Heavenly Father. Dependence on God (spiritual poverty) and awareness of the Heavenly Father (heavenly-mindedness) have the ability to rightly reorient us to give, fast, and pray in a way that is pleasing to God.
- Consider your own habits of giving, praying, and fasting. In what ways are you tempted to seek the praise of an earthly audience instead of the praise of our Heavenly Father?
- How does a heavenly-mindedness (awareness of our Heavenly Father) help you to rightly pursue giving, praying, and fasting in a manner pleasing to God?
- How do these activities help us to understand the priorities of our Heavenly Father?
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