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Continuing in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches in Matthew 6:1-18 how you can have right hands but a wrong heart. The reason for our righteousness is often recognition and rewards from others. Jesus came to give us a knew heart so that our righteousness would be for an audience of One as we rightly love the Father.
Broad vs Narrow
The Golden Rule
Prayer Connected to Promise
Finding Freedom From Worry
The Lord’s Prayer
False Religion & Outward Righteousness
Well, good morning, Watermark Plano. Excited to be here. Loved that we are kicking off these next couple of weeks of kind of coming at you live here on Sunday mornings, so as Chase said, my name is Derek Mathews. I am the men's Equipping director around here, and just couldn't be more thrilled and honored to be able to just unpack God's Word alongside all of us today and just share how it's been convicting in my own life this week, so let me pray for us and then let's jump right in.
Father, we just come before you again, and God just thank you that we get to call you Dad. We get to call you Father and, God, we can come to you boldly because of Jesus and yet lowly because of our sin and brokenness and, God, you accept us, not because of a righteousness in us, but because of his righteousness.
So, God, would you help us this morning. Would you help us to see you clearly? Would you help us to love others the way we are meant to love them? Would you allow God our light shine before others that you, God, might receive glory, and I pray, God, for everyone in here that we would live our life for an audience of one every moment of every day. So, Lord, we love you. It's in Jesus' name, Amen.
Well, I wrestled in high school. I know some of you are going to have to take that on faith, but I did. I wrestled all four years. I was good, not great, which is why it took me four years to get my letter jacket, actually. I got my letter jacket middle of my senior year, and so it didn't matter if it was 20 degrees outside or 80, I was wearing that thing. Like, everywhere I went, I was wearing my letter jacket because, you know…let your light shine before others, right?
So, I did, I wore it everywhere, and a couple of weeks after I got my letter jacket, I went over with a group of people to this girl's house that I had actually never met before. She went to a different school. But there was a group of us going, so I went over there, hung out, and left. I realized on the way home that I had left my letter jacket at her house. I didn't have her number. I barely could remember her name, so I just called up my buddy and said, "Hey you all go to a different school. I'm not probably going to ever see her again, so could you go and get my letter jacket from her because, you know, I have to represent, you know."
He goes and talks to her. Well, a couple of days go by, and I don't hear anything. I call up my friend and I go, "Hey, what's the deal, like do you have my jacket? Can we link up, and can I get it?" He said, "Okay, funny story. She won't give it back to you. In fact, she has been wearing it around school telling people that you two are dating."
I'm sitting there on the phone going, "I'm sorry, what? Like, this is weird." And he goes, "Yeah, it's weird. I'm sorry. She actually said that she won't give it back to you unless you go over to get it yourself." I get it. I was a catch, but this is weird, right? Nobody has ever introduced their spouse and been like, "Oh, how'd y'all meet?"
"Oh, fun story. My spouse, she stole something from me and then kind of wore it around telling people that we were already dating, even though we didn't even really know each other's names at that point, and then she kind of held it for ransom for a couple of days until she forced me to go over and have like a hostage negotiation situation. Remember that, honey? That was so sweet." Nobody's ever had that story ever.
I'm driving over to this girl's house because I have to get my jacket back. I'm going over to her house and I'm thinking, 'This is going to be the weirdest conversation," and I was right. I get there and I am having this really awkward conversation where it feels like I'm breaking up with her, but we were never dating. I'm saying things like, "It's not you, it's me. I'm sure you're a nice girl. Remind me of your name again? I'm saving my jacket for my wife one day." Stuff like that.
So she gives it back. I get in my car and drive off, and I'm just in my car going, "That was just the weirdest conversation. She was using my jacket to kind of bring recognition to herself in front of other people, but there was no relationship there." The truth is, I bring that up because we do that all the time with God. We do certain things in order to receive this recognition in front of others, but we are using the things of God in order to bring recognition to ourselves when really the things we're doing are not rooted in any relationship with God.
We do this all the time. Sometimes it feels a little silly, right? A couple of years ago I was at a different church, and I was kind of the primary teacher there, so I would sit on the front row. We were Baptist, so there was me, my wife, and nobody else on the front row. Back Row Baptist. Running joke. I was Baptist, so I can make that joke.
What would happen then is we would have the time in which we would pass a plate, because that is what we did. They would pass it. They started in the back, and then it came to the front, and it's just me and my wife up there. The usher would come up and give us the plate, and I would take it, look at him, and then give it right back, because we gave online. What was so funny is every time I would do this my wife would look over at me and go, "Man I wish we could have a shirt on that says, 'I tithe online.'"
We would just feel like the people's eyes were on us. Like, "Oh, the pastor's not even giving money," and they were looking at us. I always wanted to be like, "Guys, there's this thing called autopay. You can set it up. You can be a great steward of your resources. It automatically does it. You don't have to be seen giving. It's okay." But, we do that.
Maybe for some of you this past week, you spent a really solid three, four minutes in God's Word, and then you realized the lighting was just right, so you pulled out your phone. You kind of brought in your coffee mug just right, and you opened up your Bible to that page that you've kind of marked up a little bit more.
You've got your journal out, and you've got your Beth Moore study right there. You just kind of have everything going together, and you take somewhere between one and fourteen pictures of this moment to kind of "Kodak" this moment, because you are going, "This is the great moment and I can't wait to post it online to the glory of God." Then you check every five minutes how many more likes you got from that. We do it. There are so many different ways we do this, and it's kind of silly, but for some of us, it's really serious.
Maybe when you came in today, somebody came up to you and they asked you the question, "Hey, how are you doing?" and you said, "Fine." Then you said, "How are you doing?" And they didn't say fine. They started to unpack some hard stuff going on in their life, and instead of listening to them and engaging with them and loving them and praying for them in the moment, what you ended up doing was just, you kind of started to mentally check out because you didn't want to really listen to their problems.
You just wanted the Christianese thing. "Hey, I'm fine, I'm fine. We're good." So, you said at the end, "Hey, I'll be praying for you," because that's what good Christians do, right. What actually happened is you just made yourself a liar because you are going to go off and you aren't going to pray for them, and you just said that to end the conversation.
For some of you, maybe you're going to community, later today, and you haven't been in God's Word all week, but you know they're going to ask that, so you just kind of flip through God's Word right before because you know they are going to ask, "Hey what have you been studying in God's Word? What has he shown you?"
Instead of saying, "Hey guys, to be honest, I haven't been in God's Word this week, and would you help me? Would you keep me accountable to spending time in God's Word because I know it's important? I know it's how we can see who God is more and more and be reminded of his goodness and his truth." You just go, "Oh yeah, I've been really meditating upon this," and really, it's just something you looked at right before.
We do this all the time. I mean, just ask yourself, this week, have you done something, said something, or engaged with someone for the sole purpose, just to be seen a certain way. We do it all the time. The reason for our righteousness is often that we would be recognized by other people and then rewarded by them. We might have right hands, but our hearts are wrong.
This morning we are going to be looking at the Reason for our Righteousness. In order to do that we are going to be in Matthew 6:1-18. We are actually going to skip the Lord's Prayer in that. We are going to come to that next week, but as we are in Matthew 6:1-18, remember we're in the middle of a series, we're in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount, calling it the Summer on the Mount.
In this time, we are looking at this thing, and we have been repeating it every single week. We're in the middle of the message that Jesus has been giving, and what he's giving is this message that talks about the kingdom of God. The Sermon on the Mount is about the characteristics of the kingdom and the conduct that defines its citizens.
It's the characteristics of the kingdom of God, and then it's the conduct of what defines its citizens. Another way to say that is this: The Sermon on the Mount is this ideal. It's something God is telling us, "Hey, this is what it looks like to be fully devoted to God," and it's an invitation that, "Hey, this is what it looks like to walk in the kingdom."
Then we will see over and over and over, and if you haven't yet, you will. It's an impossibility. It's something that we can't do, and yet it's something that Jesus did perfectly, and because of his perfection in it, we are granted his righteousness. As we walk with him, we grow more and more and more of what it looks like to walk like the conduct of the citizens of the kingdom of God.
These last couple of weeks Jesus has been looking at these six different things and has been unpacking the law to us. The people of the Old Testament took the law and they kind of started adding things to it and they started subtracting things from it. Jesus rightly interprets the law. He says, "Hey, here's the command of God, but then here's the correction." Then he says, "Now here's the call to action. Here is how you now ought to live." Jesus has been saying this simple thing, "Hey, you are not doing the right things."
Now as we move into chapter six, he's saying, "Hey you're doing the right things. Externally it looks right, but you're doing it the wrong way. You have the right mannerisms, but the wrong motive. You have the right hands, but your heart looks really different." So just like Jesus has been doing, kind of moving through it in these three movements, he's doing it again. Only this time he's first talking about the conduct, that we can have right hands but a wrong heart.
Then into that, he's going to interject a correction that you can have right hands with a right heart. That's the heart. That's the goal. Then from there, there's going to be a very clear call to action that we are to rightly love the Father. We are going to be spending our morning mostly in those first two ideas because if you can understand those first two ideas then it bleeds perfectly into what our call to action is.
First up, what we're going to look at is the conduct of the citizens of the kingdom of God. It will say that Jesus was the first to address our conduct, that a lot of us have right hands but a wrong heart. He says in verse 1, "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."
Okay, we have to pause here because I was just told in the chapter before by…not to name drop, but Jesus… He said something that sounded actually the opposite of what he is saying here. Just a few verses removed Jesus appears on the surface to be saying two different things. In chapter 6 he says, "Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people…" but in Matthew 5:16 he says it this way, "…let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works…."
Which one is it? Are we supposed to do our righteousness before other people or not? The answer is, it depends. It depends on what matters most, which is your heart. In Matthew 5:16, he says, "In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." The heart of this individual is letting righteousness be seen because there is an audience of one that they want to praise and glorify. Matthew 5:16 is a command by God, but Matthew 6:1 is a caution.
He says, "Beware." As you're doing these things, as you're serving, as you're engaging with people, as you're sharing what you have learned in God's Word. "Beware of practicing this type of righteousness before other people…" Why? "…in order that you might be seen by them." Notice it just stops there. Not that your Father in heaven would be glorified, but just that you would be seen by them. You would be recognized by them. You are doing your righteousness in order to be recognized by somebody else so you would have a reward from that person.
If you are doing your righteousness as a means to glorify God then praise God, but if your heart's wrong, if you're doing your righteousness as a means to bring honor and recognition to yourself, Jesus says, "Beware." Your hands might look right, but your heart might look wrong. Into this Jesus is going to give us three examples of how you can have right hands but a wrong heart.
He's going to talk about giving. He's going to talk about praying. He's going to talk about fasting, and the truth is he could have done a number of things here. He could have talked about reading your Bible. He could have talked about going to church. He could have talked about scripture memory. He could have talked about a number of things here, but he chose these three because these are the three, culturally, that people took wildly out of context.
They would do these three things that were meant to be these spiritual activities to connect with an almighty God, but they would do those things to be seen and recognized by others. He uses these three things as a case study for every other thing of how you can have right hands but a wrong heart. We are actually going to look at these three things simultaneously.
In verse 2 it says, "Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do…" Hypocrites was a word that was used for actors of the day. They would literally wear a mask on stage in order that people could see their expressions. Jesus is saying, "When you're doing this it looks like you are wearing a mask where there is something different going on on the inside.
"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." Verse 5: "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."
Verse 16: "And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward." **Notice the pattern here. Their righteousness is being done. The reason for their righteousness is recognition and its reward. The reason for the righteousness, we see it in there. It says,"…sound no trumpet…"**
It's kind of a humorous thing that Jesus is saying. Imagine if we were going, at the end of this, and there were giving kiosks over here, and as someone walks out, they literally pull out a trumpet and blow some notes to announce it. It's meant to be humorous how crazy this looks. He says, "Sound no trumpet. These people are praying in the streets to be seen. They are looking gloomy and disfiguring their faces."
Why? It's for the recognition of man. Look at it. Three times it says, "they might be seen, they might be seen, they might be seen." Because they are doing this for the recognition of man their reward only comes from man. That's why Jesus ends each one of these, "Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward." They are using God, and the things of God, to make much of themselves, to be recognized by others, and so their reward is from man.
The sad part of this is this idea of receiving a reward from man. It's small, it's fickle, and it does not last. The first time I really saw this idea of doing your righteousness in front of others, or doing something in front of others in order to be seen, I learned very quickly that doing things in front of other people and getting the praise of other people, that it really is small, it really is fickle, and it really doesn't last.
One of my first memories, I kind of hate that this was my first memory, but one of my first memories was in my Pre-K years. Pre-kindergarten, I went to this daycare, and we had outdoor time, and we went outdoors. We called it recess and looked forward to recess every day. One day I walked out, and I saw this huddle of these five 5-year-olds. I was five at the time. I walked out, and I was like, "Okay, what are they doing? What are they looking at?
I kind of made my way to the front and I looked, and I saw this guy. He had what was clearly the coolest thing we had ever seen in our lives. It was a pocket knife. We had a rough school, all right. He had this little bitty pocket knife. You know those little bitty red Swiss Army knives? It's complete with those little bitty scissors and a toothpick, and it's got that sweet one-and-a-half-inch blade on it.
He had that, and as a 5-year-old, I was like, "That's the coolest thing I have ever seen." This was amazing, and we all knew immediately that because he had the coolest thing that anyone had ever seen, he was, therefore, the coolest person anyone had ever seen. Everyone was like, "Well I'd like to submit my resume for the second coolest kid in the class, because this is clearly the coolest kid. We all have to jockey for second now, so if we can be his friend, if we can maybe hold the knife every now and then, maybe we can be the second coolest."
But I remember sitting there, and I remember thinking, "This is one of the coolest things I've ever seen." But I have seen this before. In fact, I don't have a pocket knife, but my father, who art at home, I think he has one. So, I went home later that day and I went through the bathroom drawers and I found it. I found this sweet blade, and I couldn't wait for the next day because I knew I was going to walk in. This guy had a one-and-a-half-inch. Mine was two, okay.
So, I walked out, and I was like, "This is going to happen." It was recess time and I was so excited, so I grabbed this little blade and I was just showing it around for my friends. I invited one of my close friends close to me and I just was like, "Hey man, look at this." He immediately started oohing and ahhing, and it was like, "Yes! This is working." I can see the envy on his face. He was starting to praise my name, saying how cool it was, so I was like, "Okay, everyone else gather around. A new coolest kid about to be declared, and I just pulled everyone in.
But then my friend goes, "Hey can I look at that?" I was like, "No man! This is my moment." He was like, "No! Seriously, let me look at it." And I was like, "Fine, and I gave it to him. He looked at it, and he goes, "Hey bro! This isn't a pocket knife." I was like, "What do you mean? It's got a blade. It fits in your pocket. That's a pocket knife." He goes, "No, no, no it's not a pocket knife. These are fingernail clippers."
And he was right, and he let everyone know. And that little 20 seconds of praise and worship that I got from this little 5-year-old went away really fast as he sort of declares to the playground, "Derek brought fingernail clippers and claimed they were a pocket knife." To my defense, they both have a blade on it, alright. One's like a blade, and one's the little file for your nails. I just didn't know that.
I was 5 but, you know, I have gone through re:gen. I've recovered. Here's the thing. The worst part of it all was there was this teacher that came over because there was this big commotion. They're like, "What's going on?" They're like, "Well, Derek brought fingernail clippers." They're like, "Why'd you bring fingernail clippers?" I go, "Well, I thought it was a knife." She's like, "Why are you bringing a knife to school." And I was like, "Oh! This is escalating way too fast." Then I ended up getting in trouble with her and then my parents.
It was just this whole ordeal and I remember thinking, "Man, there was this moment of praise that was small, it was fickle, and it did not last, but after that little bitty 20 seconds of praise, ushered in some punishment. I was thinking about that this week. I was just thinking, "Man, that 20 seconds. What's it going to look like when we stand before God and you take all the praise and all the worship and all the glory that you have received from other people throughout your entire life?" It's going to feel a lot shorter than 20 seconds.
You see, the reason for our righteousness is often this recognition from other people, but when we do that our reward is small, it's fickle. The question we have to wrestle with is…Why do we still do it if we know it's small, if we know it's fickle, if we know it's not going to last? A lot of us wake up every single day just feeling like we have to perform to be accepted, so why do we keep doing it?
For some of you its pride. You genuinely think that the way you do certain things in the religious circles is the way. You really care about being right, all the time, but not being real. That's why, actually, when you are in community, you are looking at other people going, "Man, if that guy in my group would just read the Bible like I did, if that person would just memorize how much I memorize, if that person would just share their faith the way I share my faith, if everyone would just look at me as the standard it would be helpful for them because look at perfection and then mimic that."
Then we get frustrated with other people when in actuality we are not humble. We are not authentic. We are not sharing our shortcomings. We just think we have arrived and everyone else should follow suit. It was sad. In Luke 18 there was this story in which Jesus tells about these two individuals who go to the synagogue to pray, so they're both doing the same thing externally.
They're both praying, one is a Pharisee and one is a tax collector. It says the Pharisee walks up and his ego is bumping into everything around him. He walks up and he says, "God, thank you that I'm not like this guy." This is a great way to start your prayer. He goes, "I fast. I pray. I tithe. I do everything right. Thank you that I'm not like this guy, so praise God for me." It says this other guy, this tax collector, was sitting in the back, and it says he was beating his chest, which was a sign of remorse. He was going, "God have mercy upon me, a sinner"
Jesus looks at these two individuals and says, "One of these people goes home justified, goes home righteous, and I'll give you a hint: it's not the Pharisee." For some of us, it's pride. This is why we do it. This is why we want recognition from other people. For some of us, it's acceptance. This one's mine. I desperately want people to love me, to like me, to think certain things about me, to speak well of me when I'm not in the room. I want to be accepted. I want to be loved.
The truth is, there's nothing wrong with that. We were made to desire to be loved, but the problem is when I try to find it in other people and not find it in God. God is meant to fill me completely with his love. If there was this cup in my heart of acceptance, God doesn't fill it up halfway; he fills it up all the way. Meaning, I don't need acceptance from anyone else.
Yet when I don't walk with the Lord, when I don't see that, when I don't embrace the fact that he has fully accepted me and nothing else matters then I try to find it from you. I try to find it from my wife. I try to find it from my community. I try to find it from the people I lead here. I try to find it elsewhere because I so desperately want to be accepted.
Jesus will say later in the book of Matthew, in Matthew 23… He'll look at the same group, the group of Pharisees, and he'll say, "You look good on the outside, but on the inside, your heart is far away from me." He says, "Woe to you. Woe to you. Woe to you. Woe to you. What you are doing is not right."
It says right before that the reason they're doing that is because they want to be loved. They love being praised. They love walking through the streets and people knowing their name. They are desperate to be loved, and they're not finding it in God, even though it's fully there, so they find it in other people. The reason for their righteousness is recognition and reward from people because they desperately want to be accepted by someone, when God is saying I accept you fully.
Whether we deal with pride or acceptance, I think for the bulk of us it's ignorance. It's just straight ignorance. We genuinely do not see the rewards of God as better. One of my favorite quotes comes from C.S. Lewis. He says it this way. "It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak." Your desire for acceptance is not too strong; it's actually too weak.
"We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition…" I would add here, religious acceptance. "…when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased." The reason a lot of us want to use our righteousness to get recognition from men and be rewarded by men is because we think that's it.
It's like playing in mud when there's an ocean right next to you.
I don't know what it is for you, but there is a reason that drives all of us. Isaiah 29:13 summarizes it this way. "…this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips…" Their hands are right. But then it says, "…while their hearts are far from me…" This breaks the heart of God because that's not how you were meant to live. Their conduct… This was their conduct, and this is ours. Their hands are right. Their hearts are wrong.
Into this conduct Jesus gives correction, so if our conduct is that we often times have right hands but a wrong heart then the correction is to give us a right heart, to give us right hands and a right heart. Jesus is going to expound, once again, on these three different examples of giving, prayer, and fasting. Again, that could have been any number of things, but he chose these because they were the most prevalent in the day.
He says again, and we're going to look at them side-by-side, "But, when you give to the needy…" He assumes you do. "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." Verse 6: "But when you pray…" He assumes you do. "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."
Verse 17, "But when you fast…" Assuming you do. He's assuming you do. And let's be honest. We don't. Because heaven forbid in this comfort-happy culture, we give up anything. The reality of it is that God assumes we are fasting, we are denying ourselves of certain things in order to be realigned to the heart of God, and the truth is I don't do it as much as I'd like.
But every time I do God continuously teaches me of my brokenness, of my desperate need for him; he reminds me of his goodness, and its almost like there's a sovereign God in heaven that knows what's best for me. Fasting isn't exactly culturally acceptable or normal, so I excuse doing that. He assumes you will. He assumes that you're fasting, "But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you."
Notice the pattern again. It's the same. The reason for righteousness was reward, based on that recognition. The reason for righteousness was to be recognized and to be rewarded, only this time it's not in front of man; it's in front of God. Look at it. In terms of giving, it says, "…do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing…"
Where the wrong heart gives to get this praise externally, the right heart gives, and then it says he doesn't even let his left hand know what his right hand is doing, which means when he or she gives, he goes away, and they look at it, and they go, "Hey, I'm not even going to internally brag about this." That's what giving looks like and should look like.
For prayer, he says, "…go into your room…" where the wrong heart prays to be seen, the right heart prays to seek after God." For fasting, he says, "…anoint your head [with oil] and wash your face…" for the wrong heart fasts out of this drudgery, this religious activity I'm supposed to do. I want to make sure people know how hard it is. The wrong heard fasts out of drudgery; the right heart fasts out of a desperation for God.
Here's the thing you have to insert here. Jesus is not saying, "Never be seen." Do you know how I know that? Because Jesus did all of this and was seen. Jesus gave in a way that people saw. Jesus prayed, so much so that his disciples are going to pull him aside and be like, "You are praying so much… How do you do that? Everyone else received their trumpet sounds, and you're, like, actually engaging with the Father.
Jesus fasted, we know that he did it for 40 days and if you look at the time…the Lord's Supper all the way to the crucifixion…he says, "I'm not going to eat again until I drink this anew in the kingdom of God." He fasted there. We know that he did this. He's not saying, "Don't share amongst your Community Group what you're giving."
In fact, we're told over and over again in scripture that you should be sharing your finances. Where your treasure is, your heart is also, and the goal of community is to seek one another's hearts. If you're not sharing, then you're actually guarding your heart against the people who are God's provision for you. Share that with community. Help them to invest into your life there.
He's not saying never do it. What he is saying is getting at the heart of it of why you are doing it. The reason for righteousness is recognition reward from God. That's why three times he says, "Your Father sees this. Your Father sees this. Your Father sees this." The recognition is from God, and therefore the reward is from God. That is why he keeps on ending with, "God will reward you. God will reward you. God will reward you."
As Hebrews 6:10 says, "For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do." He's not unjust. He rewards those who walk in faithfulness to him, as we serve an audience of one. I tell my men's Equipping leaders all the time, "As you're helping us serve, as you're doing all these things, I don't see most of it. There's a big chunk of things that nobody sees, but let me encourage you. God sees it, and that's what matters."
What's interesting is you determine your audience. You get to determine your audience, but your audience is going to determine your rewards. Let me say that again. You determine your audience, but your audience will determine your reward. That's what Jesus is teaching here. What's beautiful about all of this is this. Where the reward of man is very small, it's very fickle, it goes away fast, the reward of God is the exact opposite. The reward of God is God.
God is the goal of godliness. He's the reward, that we would see him for who he is and fall in love with him for who he is. The beauty of Psalm 73, that we would sing in our hearts, "Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." God is my reward. God is my reward.
As Jesus says, "This is eternal life, that you might know God, that you might know him and the Son, whom he sent. Eternal life has a lot less to do with what heaven will look like. It has everything to do with who God is and that we get to be with him and we get to know him. If this is eternal life, that we get to know God, then we can taste heaven now. The goal of our godliness is God, that we get him.
He's not small. He's not fickle. He's eternal. He's the ocean we get to swim in. He's what our hearts were made for. The truth is so many of you are bored with God. You're bored with church. You're bored with reading your Bible, and I can tell you exactly why. You think all these little things are a means to an end. You think that God is a means to an end and not the end itself. The reward of godliness is God.
That's true of every relationship. Every unhealthy relationship, I'm using this person to get what I want from them. Every healthy relationship is, I'm engaging with this person because I want to get to know them. A couple of weeks back, my wife and I, we celebrated what we call in our house Mikaela Day. That's her name. All that is is a day that we just kind of set aside, we kind of do it every now and then, in which we do everything that I know she loves to do.
We woke up. We went to this little lake in Oklahoma. We rented jet skis because she comes alive on jet skis, and I love that. We went to the library. We had a picnic. We spent time together. We connected with one another. I think we did a Target run, and I was just waiting patiently as she was in the clothing section. Everything was about her on that day. We took a nap together. We saw a movie night that I had zero veto power over. She just got to pick. Everything we did that day was for her. Why? Because it was Mikaela Day.
What was the goal of Mikaela Day? Mikaela! It was her. The goal of godliness is God. The reason we spent time with him, the reason we pray is that we get him. We get him. What does this look like? It's finding a quiet place to linger with God, just to be with God. It's spending time in his word, not just to be ready for the next Bible study or to have something to say at community, but just to be with him.
It's serving others in whatever capacity God places before you, whether it's on a stage or it's cleaning up trash. It's serving others because you know you need to decrease as Christ increases in your life and the lives of those around you. It's memorizing scripture to hold God's Word in your mind, in your heart, so you can have the words of Jesus impacting everything of your day and being ready to share that when the Spirit moves you to encourage one another with the Word of God.
It's the next time you are home alone. I know for some of you that is few and far between, but instead of binge-watching the next show or getting a head start on house chores, it's going I have a few hours I don't typically get and it's quiet. I can spend that time talking to my Dad and lingering with the Lord that way. It's closing your door and putting on some music that praises the name of God and singing with your terrible voice to the only person who doesn't care that you have a terrible voice.
It's showing up for community to engage with them, to love them because you have tasted and seen the Lord is good, and you want them to, as well, and you need them to help you. It's fasting for the purpose of replacing the desires of your flesh with something that will bring you closer to God. Here's the kicker. It's confessing and repenting every single time you see in your heart and in your life that you are doing things for your own glory, your own kingdom, and your own power.
Right before I came out here, I was with the band and some of the other people who were kind of thinking through the service this morning. I had to share with them, "Guys, I love the fact that God's given me this gift to communicate God's Word to people, but I'll be honest, this just shined a light on me this week about how much and how often I really care about what the people around me think about me. I want to let my light shine before others, but there's this ugly part of myself that still wants to be thought of as funny or likable or smart or whatever it is."
I just wanted to bring that into light because I want to live in the light, and I want my light shining before others. I don't want this ugliness to fester in me. I want to bring it before you. We confess and we open up every single time that we miss the mark, which is often. Imagine if you live this way.
You wouldn't struggle as much with that stress that plagues you. You wouldn't struggle with that fear because you are living a life for an audience of one, and he's the only one that matters. He has declared fully, "I love you and I'm for you." We don't give to get; we give for the glory of God. We don't pray to be seen; we pray to seek after God. We don't fast out of drudgery; we fast out of a desperation for God.
We don't read our Bibles or memorize scripture or go to church or are in a community… We do those things not for the recognition and reward of others. We do it for the recognition and reward of God and God alone. We live for an audience of one, and here is the tragedy. No one does this. No one does this. There has never been a pure motive in your life. Even the most selfless thing has this hint of, "Ooh, I look good doing this." Nobody does this.
In fact, Romans tells us explicitly, "There is no one righteous. No, not one." If the reason for our righteousness is recognition from God and reward from God, we're just told by the same Bible, "Nobody is righteous." Therefore, according to Romans 3, if nobody is righteous, then nobody is being recognized by God. Nobody's being rewarded by God. This leaves us alone, yet the good news is there came this individual, there came this person who the reason for his righteousness was recognition and reward 100 percent solely for God.
We saw him fasting. We saw him praying. We saw him giving everything for the needy around him but for the spiritual needy of all mankind, because he had a right heart that poured out in compassion, but then he had right hands that were pierced to a piece of wood. He calls everyone to come to him, to know him, and to walk in faith with him. The reality of it is the correction we needed was not this moral adjustment in our lives. "You have a wrong heart, now have a right heart."
The correction we needed was a new heart. Our hearts are so broken, so dark, so sinful that nothing we do is not tainted by some level of sin. We walk day after day and all of us fall short, and then here comes this Jesus guy who does it all the way it was meant to be. It says in Hebrews 11:6, "…without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists…" Watch this. "…and that he rewards those who seek him."
Jesus is saying, "I had the right heart. You didn't. But I poured out my heart with compassion. I had my hands pierced to a cross. The correction you needed was not moral adjustments. The correction you needed was a new heart." And Jesus says, "I give it to you freely, to anyone who comes to me and declares their brokenness, declares their need I give freely." That's what a right heart does. That's what right hands do.
When we receive this new heart, then the call to action is what our hearts were meant to do. It naturally flows out of this new heart that we have, that we are meant and we are called to rightly now love the Father. It's interesting Jesus doesn't mention God's name as God at any point in any of the verses I just read in Matthew 6, but rather "Father, Father, Father, Father, Father, Father." He wants you to see God as Dad. We do everything for an audience of one, and that's it.
I was thinking about this illustration this week. A lot of you all know the famous basketball player, Michael Jordan. You might know him from the critically acclaimed Space Jam movie. For those who don't know, he also played basketball for a number of years. I'm a big sports fan. It's pretty easy for me to do sports analogies, for those that know me well. Namely, Quidditch. That's a Harry Potter reference, by the way.
Michael Jordan won three NBA Championships, then his dad dies. So, he goes off and plays baseball for a couple of years as a promise he had made to his dad. That is actually the time that he filmed Space Jam, which was great. Then he came back, and in 1996 he led his team, for the fourth time, to their NBA Championship.
As the clock winds down, the whole audience starts getting up. The crazy part about it is this is the first time he had ever been to a championship after his dad had died. What's even crazier is it was Father's Day. The clock's winding down and everybody starts to get up, and they literally start chanting his name. This individual has the praise and adoration of everyone. Three…two…one… They win the game.
Everyone's off their feet. Everyone's rushing the court. This one man in the middle, Michael Jordan, grabs the basketball and doesn't celebrate before the crowds. He literally falls on his face with the ball in hand and starts weeping. Everyone's praising his name, and he said afterwards that there was one individual that he was thinking about at this moment.
It wasn't the crowds. It wasn't the fans. It wasn't his teammates. It was only his dad. In an interview after the game, they asked him, "This is your fourth championship. How is this different than any other one?" He said, "Because this is the only one that actually really mattered most to me." With his tear-filled eyes, Michael Jordan said, "Because this one was for my dad. This one was for my father."
I've had that in my head all week. I just go, "God I want that to be me. That I would let my light shine before other people so you God would receive glory in heaven. I would start my day looking throughout the rest of my day to go, 'I have this meeting. I have this activity. I have these things that I'm doing, but all of this God, this is for my Daddy, this is for you God.' Then I would get to the end of my day and whether or not it would be stressful or successful, it didn't matter.
I would look back and go, 'God, this was for you. All of this was for you.' If I think in my mind, I looked a certain way or acted a certain way, God, would you be glorified in it. Father, if there are times that I wanted to grab glory for me, God, would you forgive me because I want the legacy of my heart to be that everything I did was for the glory of one individual, my Father who loves me and is for me and has made a way for me."
I want that for me, and Jesus wants that for all of us. Imagine waking up tomorrow and saying, "God, today is yours, and no matter what happens it's yours." In everywhere you go and everything you do you say, "This one is for my Father." Jesus has honed in on our conduct. We have right hands but a wrong heart. We do.
Yet he's offered this correction of right hands and right heart, and it wasn't just this little moral correction. It was the cross, that he might give us a new heart. With that new heart then we can walk in the way we were meant to walk. Watermark Plano, with this new heart that you have been given as you have placed your faith in Christ, let your light shine before the world as you rightly love the Father. Let me pray for us.
Father, we come before you. Father, there's never been a pure motive. So, God, if the standard of coming to you was our own perfection, nobody else and no one would get it. So, God, thank you for making a way. Jesus came with right hands and a right heart. God, in your sovereignty and your plan you pierced those right hands to a cross, that we might be given a new heart, that we might rightly love you, God.
God, I pray for now and for the rest of our lives that you would give us clean hands, you would give us a pure heart. God, that we walk faithfully every single day with an audience of one. Knowing, God, that you love us and that you're for us. God, give us those clean hands. Give us a pure heart. Lord, be with us now as we just reflect on who you are and what you have done for us.