The Sermon on the Mount tells us not to do our religious worshipy stuff in front of people. He talks about prayer, giving alms, and fasting as examples. He says we should do these things in secret, not letting anyone know we’re doing them.
The reason we keep our worship private is because it’s for God. Since it’s for God, why are we desiring to show off for people?
In the previous chapter, however, Jesus also says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
Hmm, that’s weird. Why would Jesus say to let people see your good works and yet right after tell people not to let anyone see your religious deeds?
Surely this is a contradiction, final proof that Jesus was a crazy person and the Bible is nuts.
Nope, not really. He is speaking about two different things.
Good works are summed up with the word “love.” Love is the fulfilling of the law. When the NT talks about good works, it is talking about love. Love is often the determiner of whether what you just did was good or not (see 1 Corinthians 13).
Religious deeds, such as prayer, alms, and fasting, are not good works, they are just part of what you do in worship of God.
Which is easier to do: religious deeds or love?
Religious deeds are easier. Love is hard, and often has severe cost. Religious deeds are pretty simple in comparison, plus they look good and make you feel good.
Religious stuff gets all the attention, not only in Judaism, but also in Christianity. They look swell. You’ll get way more people to fast than you ever will to sacrificially love others. (In the end, most won’t do the fast either, however!)
It’s easy to show up in church (theoretically); tough to show up day-in and day-out to help crusty old woman neighbor do her laundry.
It’s easy to write a check to poor people you’ll never meet and get special recognition from the organization, than it is to know and care for poor people in town.
Jesus says when we show the Gospel right, in word and deed, people will see our good works and will glorify our Father in heaven. This is what the believer desires.
The hypocrite merely desires recognition. “Oooh, what a spiritual person.” Is what they are going for. They might get that response, but that’s about it. God does not approve.
Don’t play games with God. He knows your heart. He knows if you are doing things out of love, or if you are doing them for show.
He knows if you are doing things for Him, or just to make you feel better about yourself. This aint no game. Know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.