by Charles R. Swindoll
Jesus opened a five-gallon can of worms the day He preached His Sermon on the Mount. There wasn't a Pharisee within gunshot range who wouldn't have given his last denarius to have seen Him strung up by sundown. They hated Him because He refused to let them get away with their phony religious drool!
If there was one thing Jesus despised, it was the very thing every Pharisee majored in at seminary: showing off. Another word for it is "self-righteousness." The Messiah unsheathed His sharp sword of truth that day, exposing their pride. Like never before, the smug show-offs were put in their place!
Listen to Matthew 6:1: "Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them."
In other words, stop showing off! Stop calling attention to your righteousness! And then, to make the warning stick, our Lord gave three specific examples of how people show off their own righteousness so that others might ooh and aah over them.
In Matthew 6:2 Jesus says, "So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you." In other words, when you perform acts of charity or assist someone in need, keep it quiet. Remain anonymous. Jesus promises that "your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you" (6:4).
In Matthew 6:5 Jesus talks about "when you pray." He warns us against being supplicational show-offs who stand in prominent places and mouth meaningless mush in order to be seen and heard. A show-off loves syrupy words. He's got the technique for sounding high and holy down pat. But Jesus says: Don't show off when you talk with the Father.
In Matthew 6:16 Jesus says, "Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do." Fasting is when the show-off really hits his stride! He works overtime trying to appear humble and sad, hoping to look hungry and exhausted like some freak who just finished walking across the Sahara that afternoon. Instead, we ought to look and sound fresh, clean, and completely natural.
Our Lord reserved His strongest and longest sermon not for struggling sinners or discouraged disciples but for hypocrites . . . for glory hogs. Unfortunately, most of them never change because they don't hear what He says to them. Show-offs, you see, are terribly hard-of-hearing.
Is your righteousness showing off? Listen to His words!
Excerpted from Day by Day with Charles Swindoll, Copyright © 2000 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.