Look At Me
LOOK AT ME!
I am glad that you are here today…Happy Mother’s Day to all.
- Nothing brings more joy to a mother than to have her kids with her in church to worship God who has made her the mother that she is.
- Did you know that in the days of Christ there was a morning prayer in which the men would say, “Thank you God for not making me a gentile, for not making me a slave, and for not making me a woman.”
- That sounds awful. But you talk to a Jewish man and here is what he means by that. He means that a woman has a harder life. That she has multiplied pain in childbirth. Women have a monthly cycle, they have to wear dark clothing from head to toe so no one will ever have to see their form. The Jews say that the pain and much suffering for a man begins on the 8th day after his birth when he is circumcised. For the woman it begins the moment she was born. The man will say “thank you God for making me a man because a woman has a harder life.
- And here is something interesting: It is a proven fact that if your mother doesn’t have any children more than likely you won’t either. Happy Mother’s Day.
Let’s look at the passage that was read…In this passage Jesus continues talking to us about having a “righteousness that exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees.”
- In chapter 5:20 Jesus catches our attention by saying, “that unless our righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, we won’t enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
- Wow! Not enter into the kingdom of heaven?
- That makes these principles a matter of salvation!
- I always thought it was just hear, believe, repent, confess and be baptized…and I have done that…but now Jesus is telling me that there is more to it than that?
- Now I have to have a righteousness that exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees?
- What were they doing? What must I do?
Well, in chapter 5 starting in vs. 21 to the end of the chapter Jesus gives us 5 instances where he contrasts what the scribes and Pharisees were doing with what we need to do.
- And those 5 instances dealt with “moral righteousness” or doing what is right morally.
- But now, in chapter 6 Jesus moves to “religious righteousness” doing what is right in reference to religious activities.
- And look what He says again in vs. 1:
Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.
- In the next 17 verses Jesus is going to mention 3 acts of worship…and He is not telling us not to do these things…He is telling us not to do them “to be noticed by men.”
- Don’t do these things for your own honor and glory…so that men will exalt you.
So look at the first area of “religious activity” that He speaks of…look at vs. 2:
“When therefore you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 3 “But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing 4 that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
Here is what Jesus is saying about giving.
- In Jesus’ day, in the first century, during the time between the two testaments, especially when they came back from exile, there was a lot more poverty than normal.
- They had been passed through different masters…there were the Persians and the Greeks and now, when Jesus speaks, the Roman Empire.
- Poverty was wide spread.
Giving to the needy, to the poor was considered the highest calling.
- It was one of the greatest things you could do. There was a huge emphasis placed on giving to the poor.
Now where they gave was in very public places. They were giving in the synagogues and apparently out in the market places where people were.
- And to get the people’s attention the scribes and Pharisees or the Rabbi’s would take their trumpet (probably a Shofar) and he would sound a blast on it!
- And those in hearing distance would start to come because they know that this is a call for the gathering.
- And people who are in daily need of food and daily need of alms would gather around them.
And so the scribes and Pharisees or the Rabbi would again raise up the horn and blow another blast…and then a third time…and even longer until finally there is a lot of poor people around and a lot of others watching.
- Then he dips into his money bag hanging from his belt and then he gives out his coins to everybody.
- And then what happens? The needy among them get down on their knees and thank him and all the Jewish people go away saying what? “He is such a wonderful man. God bless our Rabbi. He gives and he gives and he gives. He is so holy.”
- And what is the reward that the Rabbi has sought? “Yeah, praise me. I am good.”
- He has just received all the reward he is going to get.
Jesus says, “Give in such a way that no one knows, that no one sees.”
- “Don’t give to be seen by men…don’t give for your own glory…but give instead for the glory of God.” (So people will thank God for the help they have received.)
Now Jesus speaks to us about prayer. Look at vs. 5:
“And when you pray, you are not to be as the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners, in order to be seen by men.
- Now, there are no trumpets being blown but they are out there on the street corners. They are out there in a place where everyone is watching and gathering and seeing and they are praying out loud. Wow, how impressive!
Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 6 “But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
- When you pray do not be like the hypocrites who love to pray to be seen by men.
- Jesus isn’t telling us not to pray.
- Jesus is telling us not to pray “in order to be seen by men.”
The Hebrew people the Jewish people had a prayer for everything. (Look sometime on Wikipedia)
- There was morning prayers, and they were long and involved and they prayed all through the day.
- There was a Hebrew baruch…or blessings to give. “Bless you O Lord God, King of the universe. Bless you God for giving us this…and for giving us that.
- Hebrew men that were very religious, very spiritual minded, they prayed when the woke up; they prayed before they got dressed.
- They would have a morning mikfah, the morning immersion of the head and face and hands; there was a blessing for that.
- There was and still is a prayer before they eat, there is a blessing after they eat.
- There is a blessing for the clothes they wear, there is a blessing for the road they walk on; there is a blessing for everything.
- Then there is formal prayer 3 times a day. You have to do that and then there is this other thing where you have to do 100 separate blessings all through the day.
- If you see something that is unique and different, there is a blessing for that.
- So, all through the day they are just praying.
- There is a blessing when you get home. There is a blessing for food. There is a blessing after the food. There is a blessing for the lighting of the candles. There is a blessing for the blessing. There is a blessing before you go to bed, when you are in bed, there is a blessing…
And for some of them they loved standing on the street corners and praying for everything just to show everyone how righteous and religious they were.
- “Bless you O Lord God, King of the universe; bless you for giving us the sun, bless you for making it bright, for making it warm, for the light so we can see, for the warmth and the light because our crops grow, thank you Lord for this and for that and for the other.”
- And they have blessing after blessing and it goes on and on and on.
And all the people around them are in amazement and they are saying, “Wow, the Rabbis are really great men of prayer.”
- And the Rabbis swelled with pride. To be seen is why they do it.
So Jesus comes a long and He says that it is good to pray and it is good to pray all day, and it is good to pray 3 times a day, and to pray to God and to pray in the temple, prayer is good and keep praying.
- But don’t pray just to be seen by men.
- Don’t pray for your own glory. Don’t do it all for show.
When Jesus says here to “go into your inner room and shut the door”, don’t take that to extremes.
- To interpret that with rigid literalism would be guilty of the pharisaism which Jesus is warning us about.
- If all of our praying were to be in secret we would have to give up praying in church, family prayers and prayer meetings.
- What Jesus is emphasizing here is praying in sincerity and not to be seen by men
And look at verse 7: And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition, as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. 8 “Therefore do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need, before you ask Him. 9 “Pray, then, in this way:
- Jesus is saying, “I don’t want you to think that you have to pray hour upon hour upon hour for ever in order for God to bless you and hear you.”
- “That is how the pagans do it! Don’t be like them.”
- And notice He says, “Pray, then, in this way:
Vs. 9: ‘Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name.
10’Thy kingdom come. Thy 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 do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.]’
How long did it take to read that prayer?
- Contrast that to a man who stands on the street corners or in the synagogues going on and on and on and on just to be impressive.
- This is a 15-18 second prayer.
- It doesn’t have to be long and drawn out…and do you know why? “Because your Father knows what you need, before you ask Him.”
- What it needs to be is sincere with pure motives.
Then the third thing Jesus talks about is fasting; vs. 16. “And whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face (what is a gloomy face…what does that look like?) as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance in order to be seen fasting by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 17 “But you, when you fast, anoint your head, and wash your face 18 so that you may not be seen fasting by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
What is Jesus talking about? He is saying that it is not about show…that you need to be sincere… there needs to be a relationship between you and your heavenly Father that is pure, and good, and healthy, and holy.
- That we don’t seek to impress people with our holiness but with His.
In verse 2, 5, and 16 Jesus says “don’t do as the hypocrites do.”
- That word “hypocrites” in the Greek literally means “a stage-player…an actor.”
- It speaks of one who comes out on a stage and performs…they pretend to be something they are not…and they seek to gain the approval of their audience.
- What Jesus is saying to us is, as His disciples simply play to an audience of One…and covet the approval of your Father in Heaven.
© Sunset Ridge Church of Christ 2023