“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others. . . . If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” (Matt. 6:1)
Expanded Passage: Matthew 6:1-18
I’ve been getting up at five each morning for the past year to go fishing with an old friend who has a bass boat. I help him get his boat in the water, and he helps me stay faithful. Our conversations sometimes veer into questions about God. He asked me one day why so many Christians think they’re better than other people just because they go to church and do religious things. He quickly added, “I’m not talking about you,” . . . but he could have been.
Most people who don’t go to church have a negative view of the people who do. My friend is no different. I performed his wedding ceremony early in my ministry, and he still loves his wife—so he looks favorably on the initial work I did for them. But he has little understanding of the theological vocation I have lived out and rarely asks about it. He is more interested in the person I am and the family that I have formed around me.
Though most Christians claim they are saved by faith and not works, we spend a lot of time practicing such acts in front of people to show how righteous we are. Living a holy life is important, not to impress others or ourselves, but for no other reason than that it pleases God.
Practice living your faith out of an internal rootedness in God.
Rich Eckley is professor emeritus of theology at Houghton College (NY). He is an ordained Wesleyan minister and enjoys—with his wife Lynn—entertaining four active grandchildren.
© 2023 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission. Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.