Our devotions this Lenten season have been written by members of Faith Lutheran Church. Today’s devotion is by Peggy Porter. Also, if you would like to join our staff in praying the liturgy for Responsive Prayer/Suffrages just click here.
Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven. So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever 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. Matthew 6:1-6
Beware of showing off. If we hope to be praised or to receive honor by our prayers or church attendance, our hearts and attitudes are warped, and our worship praises only ourselves. If our charitable giving is done to see our names on the donor list, then we are only blowing our own horn. This pretense is not pleasing to God. The only acceptable motive for our prayers and offerings is love for Christ, who has given himself for us as payment for our sin.
True prayers and offerings flow not from pride or self-promotion, but from the grace God pours out upon penitent sinners. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart” (Psalm 51:17). God does not despise a repentant heart, but rather blesses it with his compassion, love, and tender mercy.
Jesus warns against showing off our righteousness for a simple reason; we’re not righteous apart from him. Perhaps we accept that we’re not perfect. Spending quiet time in a quiet place praying to our heavenly Father offers great refreshment. Just as we can’t really comprehend how glorious Jesus is, neither can we truly understand how sinful we really are. We don’t know how deep our sinfulness is; by faith, we believe it!
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, thank you for being our righteousness. Create in us clean hearts and right spirits. Amen.