Homily for Wednesday, 20 June, 2012: “Showing” Our Faith
2 Kings 2:1, 6–14 / Matthew 6:1-6, 16–18
One of the main points in the Sermon on the Mount is a true view of righteousness. Absolute righteousness is found only in God, and human righteousness has its source in being rightly related to God. Jesus said a person so related to God would be salt and light. Jesus then said true righteousness would go beyond that of the scribes and Pharisees. As chapter six begins, Jesus is still teaching characteristics of true righteousness, but he moves from sins to good practices.
For the Jews in Jesus' day, righteousness consisted of three basic observances: almsgiving, prayer and fasting. Jesus introduces these in v1 and warns of doing these righteous deeds just because people are looking. The reason, Jesus goes on to say, is that your Father who sees in secret.... (v4). That is the omniscience and the omnipresence of God. He knows our selfishness and our selflessness. He knows how often those things which look so good outwardly are really selfish trips of egoism. And he know the times when others have judged us as selfish when that was not the intent at all.
Also, we should know that record keeping –– the Pharisees loved to keep tally –– is not in our favor. The Psalmist knew that. He wrote, If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness (130:3,4a).
Here is the bottom line: All of our "doing" is to be done as unto the Lord. The focus is not ourselves. There is an ungodly power that can overwhelm us when we are objects of applause. We humans have a weakness for getting drunk on popularity. It can rob us of self-respect. We become fools as we bow to the shrine of publicity. It's like the child in a play who is aways looking out at the audience to see if people are looking instead of only being in character on the set. Public approval twists our values so that the sweetest music is the sound of our own name on others' lips, and the most beautiful sight is our name in print or our photo in the paper. New life in Christ can free us from that. We are free to be generous to others. We are possessed by a generosity that neither calculates nor keeps records. The focus of life in God's kingdom is God himself.
There is something else we need to see here. Jesus is not saying, "Do not do righteous things when you are in public." Rather, he is saying, "Don't act righteously just because you are in public." There's a big difference. Someone has offered this guideline: "Show, when tempted to hide; hide, when tempted to show."
Jesus has already said that his disciples will be salt and light. Jesus said others should see our good works and glorify God. That is the point. The glory here has to be God's. We surely do not have any glory of our own to be displayed. Any glory that appears in us is reflected glory; it has its origin in God. The praise is always to him –– not to us.