by Mike Ratliff
“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.” (Matthew 6:1 ESV)
I have taken a few days off to be with family. I am preparing for a trip to visit my son on the East coast next week and will be “off” for about six days or so. In between these two “downtimes” I would like to post a few things that all Christians need to take care to turn from because not only are they “evil,” they are actually markers of a heart that is following hard after the flesh rather than God as a living sacrifice. One of those “markers” is hypocrisy. Our Lord gave us two good examples of this in Matthew 6:1-6 which is part of His Sermon on the Mount.
The first example is found in vv1-4 in which our Lord uses the example of charitable giving that some exploit as a means to draw attention to themselves. Here are these verses from the ESV:
“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. 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. 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.” (Matthew 6:1-4 ESV)
Here are vv1-4 from the Greek New Testament:
Προσέχετε τὴν ἐλεημοσύνην ὐμῶν μὴ ποιεῖν ἔμπροσθεν τῶν ἀνθρώπων πρὸς τὸ θεαθῆναι αὐτοῖς· εἰ δὲ μή γε, μισθὸν οὐκ ἔχετε παρὰ τῷ πατρὶ ὑμῶν τῷ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς. ῞Οταν οὖν ποιῇς ἐλεημοσύνην, μὴ σαλπίσῃς ἔμπροσθέν σου, ὥσπερ οἱ ὑποκριταὶ ποιοῦσιν ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς καὶ ἐν ταῖς ῥύμαις, ὅπως δοξασθῶσιν ὑπὸ τῶν ἀνθρώπων· ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀπέχουσι τὸν μισθὸν αὐτῶν. σοῦ δὲ ποιοῦντος ἐλεημοσύνην μὴ γνώτω ἡ ἀριστερά σου τί ποιεῖ ἡ δεξιά σου, ὅπως ᾖ σου ἡ ἐλεημοσύνη ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ, καὶ ὁ πατήρ σου ὁ βλέπων ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ ἀποδώσει σοι ἐν τῷ φανερῷ. (Matthew 6:1-4 GNT)
Hold to the rightness of you not to do in front of the men to the to be watched them; if but not indeed, wage not have you from the father of you in the heavens. When then you might do mercifulness, not you might trumpet in front of you, as indeed the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the lanes, so that they might be given splendor by the men; amen I say to you, they have back the wage of them. Of you but doing mercifulness not let be known the lift of you what does the right of you, so that might be of you the mercifulness in the hidden; and the father of you the one seeing in the hidden will off give to you. (Matthew 6:1-4 a word-for-for-word translation from Koine Greek to English)
The word translated here as “hypocrites” is ὑποκριταὶ the nominative, plural form of ὑποκριτής or hupokritēs, which originally referred to Greek actors who wore different masks to play various roles. Jesus’ criticism here is for those whose hypocrisy is that of doing right to draw attention to self. He used giving as the example, but the emphasis here is motive isn’t it? I have been accused by some defenders of certain religious leaders of imputing motives to them as if I am omniscient like God. Well, I don’t claim that. Only God is omniscient. However, God’s Word is clear and when these mens’ ministries are marked by certain things, motive is also apparent. For instance look at the following “tweets” from Rick Warren. I’ll let the Holy Spirit speak to your heart about his “motives” for writing that stuff about himself…
Instead of that “look at me” type of “ministry” here is what our Lord Jesus said in Matthew 6:5-6, “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. 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.” What is the emphasis here? It is to pray in private and keep it that way. One of Rick Warren’s “tweets” was all about telling us how much he prayed, et cetera. Well, I hope he enjoyed his reward…
My brethren, the focus for us in these passages is to do righteously, but keep it between us and God. God knows that the temptation is to take pride in these things and that leads to self-righteousness and a form of watered-down law-keeping that is very essence of the “seeker movement” and if you listen to enough of Rick Warren sermons and those of his disciples then you will hear it loud and clear. They confuse Law and Gospel and the law they preach is the watered-down type that fools people into believing they are keeping it and this only produces three kinds of people none of whom are true Christians. It produces self-righteous false believers, despairing God haters, and atheists. Fortunately, some have escaped and have become refugees in real churches, and having heard the Law and Real Gospel, have been saved by God according to His mercy and and grace.
We must never stop telling the truth in this Truth War. I am deeply disappointed that there has not been a deep outcry from the leadership of the Church at what Rick Warren said at the Desiring God conference a few weeks ago. Since there hasn’t been one, then my first “supposition” is playing out as I had said. There is a division going on in the Church. Those who know the truth and refuse to compromise are not following along and the rest are. How sad, but to God be the glory.
Soli Deo Gloria!