Sortable Messages

A standalone sermon from the Sermon on the Mount by church member and Pastoral Intern Adam Lang.

Adam Lang
4/2/2017
Do the Right Thing for the Right Reason

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
2 “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.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. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.9 Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
16 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

I would like to begin this morning where our text begins, in fact, I would like to begin with its very first word: Beware. I like the word beware. For me, it brings associations to mind, like that of dangerous dogs, falling rocks, or of a broken bridge on the road ahead. It also makes me think of prophetic figures, warning of impending doom or of matters of great consequence. Here, in this passage, Jesus tells us to beware of something, and we should not breeze by his usage of this word. This is one of only seven separate occasions in the Gospels when Jesus uses this word, and it is worth noting that in most of the other cases where he uses this word he is talking about the same concepts as we find in this passage. This matters to Jesus, and He thinks its important. So when Jesus, friend of sinners, tells all who follow him to beware, to watch themselves and attend to his warnings in this passage, I think it prudent for us to heed His words as well. But what is it that Jesus would have us attend to? Let me give it to you up front. I think the main thing Jesus wants his listeners to take away from this passage is that righteous acts undertaken for the praise of man will not be rewarded by the Father, but also that the Father does reward righteous acts done in secret. And I think Jesus tells us this because in our fallenness, we naturally desire and seek fulfillment in the praise of men rather than the praise of God. Now there is a lot we could talk about in this passage; quite honestly we could spend several sermons on the Lord’s prayer alone. And we will look at all these examples that Jesus gives, but I really want to focus in on why he gives these examples rather than the practices themselves, so we will focus on what that first verse tells us to focus on: to beware practicing our righteousness before others in order to be seen by them. This morning, as I preach this text, my desire for you is that the truths of this text would sink deep into your heart. I want you to know that any good thing that we do to impress others or to encourage them to praise us will not be rewarded by God, but I also want you to know that the Father has promised to reward our service and devotion towards Him. Finally, it is my hope this morning that the Holy Spirit would use these truths to stir you up to greater acts of love and devotion and to magnify the name of our amazing and gracious God.


So let’s look to the text. We’re in Matthew, a book most of you are probably pretty familiar with by now, and specifically the context of this passage is Jesus’ sermon on the mount. At the beginning of chapter 5, we see that though crowds are present to see Jesus, what Jesus says in chapters 5-7 are directed to his followers. So this text today is directed to all of us here and any who would be a follower of Christ. And what would Jesus tell us? Well just before this passage, Jesus has explained what is expected of his followers – not just marital fidelity, obeying the law, and loving our families, but total purity of mind, a peaceful heart that is quick to forgive, and loving our enemies even when they do us harm! Jesus sums up his teaching in the last chapter well in verse 48: You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.And this brings us to chapter six. Because Jesus doesn’t leave it there. Now we come to find out that not only are we expected to be perfect, but even outward perfection for the wrong reasons is not good enough for a child of our perfect and Holy God. Look at verse 1:
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven”

In this first verse I believe we can find three things: the overall truth of this passage, the purpose of this entire passage, and also my first point:

I. Any good thing that we do to impress others is ultimately hypocrisy, which is not rewarded by God (v. 1, 2, 5, 16).

To illustrate what he means by this summary warning, Jesus gives us three examples; giving, praying, and fasting. In these examples, Jesus not only further illustrates what he means by his warning, but he also tells us how to guard against this temptation to hypocritical holiness, and in the process gives us a glimpse into what genuine holiness and righteousness looks like. Holy and righteous acts that we undertake for the purpose of drawing admiration for our spirituality are not genuine holy and righteous acts. If all of our supposed holiness and righteousness are just a show for men rather than an act of love and worship to God, then our spiritual life is empty if not non-existent. Look to the first example, where Jesus demonstrates what this hypocritical holiness looks like in giving. Look at verse 2:

2 “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.

Let’s take this a piece at a time. The word translated as giving to the needy is a word denoting a deed of mercy or pity. This isn’t the same as paying your taxes, or writing a check to support a political campaign. This is giving that is motivated by love, from a heart that wants to help others and meet their needs. The other word we need to define in this passage is “hypocrite.” We use that word a lot in our culture, but I don’t think in every usage we always mean the same thing. I think personally, the word hypocrite brings to mind ironic moral failures, like the marriage counselor who has an affair or the pastor who doesn’t really believe in Jesus, but to understand this text correctly we need to broaden our definition slightly. The word hypocrite originally meant an actor in classical greek, but in Jesus’ time it came to mean anyone who lays aside his true identity and assumes a false one, treating the world as a stage on which he plays a part. And in this passage, we find people taking religious practices which are real activities done in devotion and worship and turning them into what they were never meant to be, a theatrical display before an audience, meant to deceive and done for applause. What does the hypocrite specifically do in this passage? Jesus describes their behavior as blowing trumpets before them as they give. Now I did some research, and we don’t have any evidence that there were actual trumpets, but we do have evidence that there was a system in place where you could give at the synagogue, and your gift would be distributed to the poor, and also that big contributions were proclaimed or announced in some way. But knowing this, what is the problem? Why does Jesus rebuke them? We know its not the fact that they are giving; look at the beginning of the verse. When you give to the needy. As Jesus speaks to his followers, it is assumed that we will give. But it is not enough that we give, our heart motives must also be correct. And this is where the hypocrite fails, for he gives that he may be praised by others. His giving is not concerned with meetings needs and pleasing God, but with earning a false reputation for generosity and holiness. For though he is actually giving, he is also deceiving, wishing for others to think he gives because of who he is as a righteous man rather than actually giving out of the goodness of his heart. Jesus’ rebuke here shows us that Generosity so that others will admire our spirituality is not generosity (v. 2). This temptation, to try to appear more holy than we are is deadly, and we must recognize it as such. Now perhaps you’ve never blown a trumpet while giving, but that doesn’t mean you and I don’t make the same mistake sometimes. To give one example, I think we do the same thing with social media, uploading pictures of the people we’re helping or even sharing about organizations we give to, but speaking even more generally we just need to watch for this in every aspect of our public life. Personally, a major turning point in my faith was when the Holy Spirit convicted me that if I might take even a quarter of the energy I had been spending on trying to appear holy and righteous and instead spent it on actually trying to obey Christ and seek God, that my life might change dramatically. And when I repented and turned towards God, it did. But what if we don’t turn and repent from such behavior? Look and see what Jesus says: They have received their reward. Notice the structure here. They do actually receive something, the praise of their peers, but that is all they receive. The verb translated ‘have’ in Jesus’ time was a technical term used in commercial transactions; it meant to “receive a sum in full and give a receipt for it.” They have received something, but it is all they are going to get. So what should we take from this first example? We’ll come back to it in a little bit, but for now, I think that we should note that we are expected to give generously from a merciful heart. If your life is not characterized by joyful giving, your life is not in accordance with what Jesus expects from his followers.

Now let’s look at the next example, in verse 5.

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.

Once again, Jesus warns us that we must not be like the hypocrites, people pretending to be something they’re not. In this case, we must not pray like the hypocrites. For they do not love to pray, nor do they love the God whom they are supposedly praying to, but they love themselves, and the opportunity public prayer gives them to parade themselves before men for their applause. Again, we see the rebuke here is on the reason, not the thing. Jesus is not criticizing standing and praying, nor praying out loud, nor even public prayer, because standing and praying out loud were both the norm at this time, and Jesus himself prayed out loud and in public; we have several passages describing him doing it. The rebuke is on their heart motive, their desire to be seen and praised. From this we can know that prayer so that others will admire our spirituality is not prayer (5). As followers of Jesus, it is expected that we pray: look at verse 5 – and when you pray. The question we all need to ask ourselves however, is how do we normally pray? Which is more frequent? Our prayer in public, or our prayer alone with God? When we pray in public, is it the overflow of our private prayer? When we pray with someone, are we bringing them into the well-known presence of our Father, or are we busy scrambling to make sure we say all the right things and phrases that will please those around us? When we pray, is our attention on God, the one to whom our prayer is addressed, or is it on those around us? Perhaps some of us, when faced with these questions, rather than giving a yes or no answer must admit that we don’t even really pray, and if our pride would let us admit it we might even say we don’t know how to pray, and have been too caught up in giving the appearance of holiness to our brothers and sisters to ask for help and learn from one another. We must be people who seek the face of God and are drawn to Him. We must be people who wish to speak with our Father, our God, our Redeemer. It is not enough to “pray” that others may approve of our eloquence or even how much we pray, but we must actually PRAY to our Father. If our public prayer is the bulk of our total prayer life, rather than a tiny part of the overflow of our secret prayer, something is wrong. Praying for the praise of man will not be rewarded by God.

Now let’s jump ahead to Jesus’ third example in verse 16.

16 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.

In this example also Jesus tells us that righteous acts undertaken for the approval of other are false and will not be rewarded, but to understand this example more completely we should talk about Biblical fasting. I think many Baptists dismiss fasting out of hand because of our evangelical focus on inward religion of heart and spirit (and rightly so, judging by this text), but once more let me draw your attention to the beginning of the current verse: And when you fast. And before we try to explain it away, this is not the only verse where Jesus indicates his followers will fast. In Matthew 9:15 Jesus, answering a question about fasting, explains that while He is doing his ministry on earth, the disciples will not fast, and why would they? Why would they express a desire for closeness to God when he is right there with them? But then he goes on to say that when He is taken away, that then they will fast. But what is fasting? Though we can “fast” from many things, fasting at its heart is a God-given and ordained way to express to the Lord our deep hunger and longing to know, love, and see him more through abstaining from food. From other passages of Scripture like Psalm 35:15 and Isaiah 58 we see that to fast is to humble oneself before God, sometimes to express penitence for sin (see Nehemiah, Nineveh, Daniel, Saul become Paul), or at other times to express our dependence on God for future mercy and guidance (See Moses, Jehoshaphat, Esther, Ezra, Jesus, Paul and Barnabas). In all these examples we see that fasting can be an occasional and special arrangement where we turn aside from food and other distractions in order to seek God for some particular direction or blessing. But what do we find the hypocrites doing? They took a spiritual self-discipline, an opportunity for humility and glorifying God, and in the words of DA Carson prostituted it into an occasion for pompous self-righteousness. Some would go about unwashed and unkempt, sprinkling ashes on their head so that all might know they were fasting. Others would go about, groaning and grimacing, letting everyone know how spiritual they were in persevering in this spiritual act though it was obviously very difficult. They took a sign of humiliation before God and made it a self-righteous display to be seen before men. Maybe many of you have never fasted before, and the main takeaway from this verse is that you should begin fasting when it would be appropriate to do so, but I think this also applies to all of us much more broadly. Any time the Lord is putting you through something, and you can’t help but tell everyone you meet how difficult it is but also how well you’re doing, you are doing the same things as the hypocrites in this passage. That’s not vulnerability, that’s using words that could indicate humility before God to instead draw attention to your holiness. So what do we see in this passage? That fasting so that others will admire our spirituality is not fasting (16). And in the same language we saw before, we see they have received their reward in full. Hypocrisy is not rewarded by God. We know this because the passage says it four times, once specifically and implied three times. And this makes sense, right? If real generosity is giving out of love for God and neighbor, if real prayer is actually speaking with our Heavenly Father, and if Fasting is expressing humble dependence on God, then why should he reward us when we prostitute these things that are supposed to be acts of worship to him as acts that will make others, falsely, worship us?

So how are you all feeling? I don’t know about you, but just writing the first half of this sermon left me feeling pretty low, very burdened down by the weight and perversity of my sin in these areas. But praise be to God that this is not the end of the story. I want to go back now, and look at the verses we’ve skipped over so far and apply them to ourselves. I want to demonstrate what I believe is the second point of this text and the second point of my sermon, that II. God does reward the righteous acts of his saints (v. 3-4, 6-15, 17-18). How do we know this? Because similar to the point that God does not reward hypocrisy, we see the truth that God does reward his saints over and over again in this passage, once implied in verse 1 but then explicitly stated three times in verses 4, 6, and 18. Now that we’ve covered what the acts of hypocrisy look like, let’s talk about what the acts of righteousness look like. And in this, we see a common theme. Secrecy. Look first at giving in verses 3 and 4.

But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Jesus tells us to give in secret. He uses the metaphor of not letting the left hand know what the right hand is doing to say that true generosity isn’t mindful of what it’s doing. It’s not giving because it is thinking about what others will think about it; it isn’t even giving quietly while we congratulate ourselves on our generosity. Think about the metaphor: when we’re not letting our left hand know what the right hand is doing, we are giving in such a way that we aren’t even telling ourselves. It makes sense, then, that giving in secret does not mean we need total secrecy. The point is not to go to every effort to hide our giving, and to refuse to give if there is a chance our giving will become known or that we will be self-congratulatory. If you see someone in need, but there’s no way for you to help them without being seen, you should still give to that person, just don’t do it so that others may praise you. True generosity is marked by self-sacrifice and self-forgetfulness, not self-congratulation.

Now look at the second half of verse 4: Your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Again, I don’t think Jesus tells us this because the Father will only reward acts that achieve perfect secrecy, but that the Father will only reward righteous acts from the right motive. And giving in secret helps us to test our motives in giving. If we are always giving, or praying, or fasting openly, then most of the time we can’t know if we were really acting with the right heart motive. But if we are acting in secret, in this instance giving without telling anyone, then we have greater assurance we are acting to please God rather than men. Now for the unbeliever, this is impossible. They cannot give to please God, because they are not reconciled with God through Christ. Their giving will always have ulterior motives and will not be pleasing to Him. But thanks be to God that He has made a way for us who are believers to please him. We do not give to the needy so that we may earn favor with God. This reward we have in sight in this passage is not eternal life and relationship with God, for that was won for us in Christ, and is completely unmerited. We are able to give like this in confidence because we have been first given to. We can act from pure motives because he has removed our hearts of stone and given us a heart of flesh, because he is changing our hearts and renewing our minds. Christian giving is not trying to curry favor with God – it is acting to love and serve others, it is expressing gratitude to God that he has given to us, and it is practicing trust in the sovereign goodness of God. As Christians we do not worry even about necessities, since He has pledged to care for His own, as we see in Matthew 6 or Romans 8 (Matt 6:25-34, Romans 8:28). Our responsibility is to seek His kingdom and righteousness, confident that He will supply for our needs.
Now let’s look at the second example. What does true prayer look like? Again, we could spend many hours looking at that question, examining many passages of scripture and looking at the lives of the saints who have gone before us, but allow me to highlight only what Jesus brings up in this passage. Let’s start in verse 6:

6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

The first thing Jesus tells us to do to pray truly is to pray in secret. Again, this doesn’t mean that public prayer is not true prayer. But it does mean our lives should be characterized by private prayer. Like we talked about with fasting, the point is not that people can’t know about our prayer, but that in our prayer we should focus on the object of our prayer and not anything else. Not only this, but if we are praying just so we can tell others about how much we pray, then our heart is not in the right place. To help us know how to pray, Jesus gives us a pattern to follow, and in doing so also helps us understand much about the purpose and nature of prayer. Look next to verses 7 and 8:

7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

The first instruction is not to be like gentiles who heap up empty phrases in order to be heard. Such prayer misunderstands prayer and the God to whom we pray. For the unbelieving gentile, their Gods are like reluctant deities that must be badgered in to giving them things, but this is not the case when we pray to God. Prayer is not demanding God’s attention and informing him of our needs that he might have overlooked, but speaking to our Father, who already knows our needs, and trusting him to meet them. Then in verse 9, Jesus says Pray, then, like this. It is in light of who our God is, and our relationship to Him that we are to pray, approaching our Father with humility, devotion, and confidence. Then we pray to Our Father, not just my father or your father but the Father of us all who has redeemed both you and I and brought us together in this life that we might serve and encourage one another, and not just our God, but Our Father. We do not pray to an abstract or a concept, an unknowable and uncaring deity but to our Father, the one in whom all the ideals of Fatherhood are found in perfection. Then we pray to Our Father in heaven, not denoting his geographical location but denoting his authority and power as the ruler of all things. Next we are to pray that the Father’s name be hallowed, or made holy, not that the letters G-O-D would become holy but that the name that stands for the person who bears it, whose name is already holy (Psalms 30:4, 97:12, 103:1, 111:9) would be recognized, acknowledged, and treated as holy as it already objectively is. Then in verse 10, we pray that God’s kingdom come, his will be done, on earth as it is in heaven, praying not only that his kingdom will grow in this world and in this time, and that evidences of it would break powerfully into our lives, but also that his kingdom will soon be consummated when Jesus returns in His glory. We pray that his will would be done, for when we approach God in prayer understanding who He is, it is only natural to give his concerns priority and to commit our own needs to him completely. We pray that even as His will is carried out in heaven perfectly, without rebellion, and without pain, that his will would be carried out on this earth where until Jesus comes, God will always be working providentially even through the evil acts of men. So we pray that our lives on earth will more nearly approximate life in heaven.

Next, in verse 11, Jesus tells us to pray for the Father to give us our daily bread. In Jesus’ time, workers were typically only paid a day at a time, and only just enough to live. For these followers of Jesus, even a few days’ illness could mean disaster for the whole family. Though our situation is different in some ways, we still must recognize that all we have and all we need is given to us by God, and we too should pray for our daily bread, praying for everything necessary to the preservation of life – food, health for us and our families, a roof for our heads and even good weather and good government.

Now look at verses 12 and 13:

12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

In verse 12 we find we pray for the forgiveness of past sin, and then in verse 13 we pray for protection from future sin. We are to ask the Father not to lead us into temptation but to deliver us from evil. Now this may seem confusing to some of you at first, because there are other passages in Scripture that says God does not tempt us to do evil. There are several ways to explain and make sense of this, but all of them agree this is simply a way of saying that we should pray that the Lord would enable us to run from sin, protecting us from the attacks of the evil one.

Finally, let’s look at verses 14-15.

14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

If you go back up to verse 12, you’ll notice that we pray that God would forgive us our debts as we have forgiven our debtors. We ask the Lord to forgive us according to how we forgive those who sin against us, or owe us in some way. We saw this also in Matthew 18, in the parable of the unforgiving servant, that forgiveness is a reciprocal principle – there is no forgiveness for the one who does not forgive. Now this is true, but not because forgiveness is a work that we must do to earn God’s favor and salvation or ultimate justification, but because an unforgiving spirit bears strong witness to the fact that you have never repented and accepted the Lord’s forgiveness for yourself.
So what do we know about prayer having looked at this pattern Jesus gave us? We can see from this passage that prayer is God-centered, acknowledging who he is and our humble dependence on him, expressing our needs to him with humility but also devotion and confidence. Prayer is a conversation addressed to a God who already knows our needs, but wants us to speak them to Him in a spirit that reminds us of who he is. It is not the communication of information, nor a technique for getting things from God, but the expression of the relationship of trust which flows from knowing God as “Father.” This pattern prayer illustrates how such a relationship works.
Finally, let’s look at true fasting in verses 17 and 18.

17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

So what are we to do in regards to fasting? Hopefully unsurprisingly at this point, we are to keep it secret. The purpose of fasting is not to advertise yourself but to express humility before God. This doesn’t mean if somebody finds out you’re fasting then it was all for nothing, the point is to do it right, not to advertise it. So how do we do it right? When we fast, just act normally. Don’t draw attention to yourself, brush your teeth, comb your hair, and keep a grimace off your face. When your mind drifts to your hunger don’t tell your neighbor, but redirect your mind towards God and seek Him and His will in prayer. Offer your emptiness to God in hope, confessing your need and expressing your trust.

Now look to the second half of verse 18, And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. As many of you have probably noticed, we’ve gotten almost to the end here and haven’t yet talked about what this reward promised in every example may be. Notice that in every example we’re given, the warning here is not that we desire a reward, but that we desire the wrong one. Unlike many modern Christians, Matthew is not coy about the “reward” that awaits those who are faithful to God, for we see this theme all throughout Matthew. Not only that, but we see this theme that the reward is not proportionate to our works, but that God is far more generous than we could ever “deserve.” And I think the reason Jesus warns his followers of hypocritical holiness in this passage is not to discourage us by pointing out some of our more subtle sins, but to warn us that with hypocritical holiness there is no reward from God when in true holiness we could have so much more! In living lives of true holiness, which is only possible through the Lord’s bringing us from death to life and empowering us to live lives free from the tyranny of sin, we already experience great reward, though I think Jesus is promising more than joyful lives on earth. Personally, I think this reward is directly tied to our enjoyment of God now but especially in heaven, though the Scriptures don’t say exactly what this future tense reward is. But what I do know for certain, is that you and I should be more than content to trust in the goodness of the reward of our God, the same God who went to the cross to redeem us while we were still his enemies. Whatever this reward is, it far better than anything we could earn. I said earlier that even outward perfection for the wrong reasons is not good enough for a child of our perfect and Holy God. But praise be to God that we are His children not because we meet such a standard, but because we are in Christ who has met this standard and who has paid the price for our sins. And praise be to God that he has given us His Spirit so that we might be more like Christ, and praise be to God that he is giving us rewards for the righteous acts we do only because of all He’s done!

So in response to these truths, let us obey, and let us beware. Let us keep a close watch over ourselves, for we will surely continue to face temptation to this hypocrisy. This is obvious, for it is one of the easiest and most effective ways Satan would neuter your faith. For when the outward appearance can look much the same, it’s easier to ignore that you have turned from serving God and seeking Him to serving your own ego and seeking the praise of man. But as we’ve seen in this text, there are key differences between these two things that we can use to keep a watch on ourselves. In fact, as we’ve already began applying this text I’m sure there are some among us today that recognize that we almost always give in to this temptation. My call to you is to turn! Why? Because any good thing that you do to impress others is ultimately just hypocrisy! Acts of generosity, prayer, and fasting so that others will admire your spirituality are nothing but a sham, and such hypocrisy will not be rewarded by God. But even as you turn and repent, you should rejoice, because your Father has forgiven your sin, for its price has already been paid in Christ’s death, and your standing is based on your union with Christ. Praise be to God, that our God did not leave us in our sin, and that he did not leave it to us to live righteously from a pure heart. Praise God that He does indeed reward the righteous acts of His saints, whom he has brought from death to life through the finished work of Christ, whom he has given new hearts, for whom he has prepared good works to walk in, and praise be to God that He has promised that we will walk in these righteous deeds, we will wear them on the final day, and that he has empowered us to live righteous lives and to love Him. This is amazing, and should move our hearts so we want to act righteously to please our Heavenly Father who has given us every good thing and is working all things to our good. And that we will be rewarded by such a God is a great motivation to fight against the desire for the praise of men. And today, even if you feel convicted, you can draw comfort from knowing that even now in this moment He is changing you, working on your heart, and He will be faithful to complete this good work. Continue to turn towards Him. It can be so hard to live ignoring the praise of men, but it is so much easier when we remember who our God is, and what he has done and what he is doing, and it will be so very worth it. So in closing, let us be motivated by God’s character and His reward when we face temptation to hypocrisy, and let us wonder with joy about this reward that comes from the same God who sent his own Son to us when we were broken and unlovable. Let us rejoice at what an amazing God we serve!