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January 29 | Matthew 6:1-4


 

DAILY READING

 

REFLECTION


Who Gets the Credit?

by Elaine Pierce


Last Sunday, we read Matthew 5:16, where Jesus tells us to "let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." And this week, we read in Matthew 6 what seems almost contradictory: "Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.'"

What are we to do? Hide our good works? What about letting our light shine? And what exactly are "acts of righteousness"? Matthew 6:2 talks about giving to the needy, and Jesus seems to say that we will do this ("when you give to the needy," not "if" you give to the needy). So, dear Daily Worship readers, it seems to me we are talking about our motivation for "acts of righteousness." Jesus rightly pointed out the hypocrisy of the religious leaders of his day, who announced their good deeds with great fanfare. They timed their temple gifts to the trumpet calls to prayer, so that people would notice them presenting their offering.


We are called to care for those in need - that message is clear throughout scripture. The downtrodden, the marginalized, the weak, society's outcasts - people like this were drawn to Jesus. The religious leaders despised him. He threatened their power structure. They were under Roman rule, but they had carved out a place of prestige and honor for themselves, and they were happy with the status quo.


As we "give to the needy," let's remember to do it with dignity and grace, not with pride and arrogance. Our reward for giving will come from the Father in his timing, not ours. As we give, remember that all we have, comes from the Father, and our role is to join him in serving others, and to glorify him, not ourselves. We will make mistakes, but thanks be to God that we are not on this journey alone. The body of Christ, the community of faith, will be the light that shines in the darkness.


PRAYER

Lord, it is my nature to want others to know that I am doing acts of righteousness. Help me place my faith in you, and remember that all that I have comes from you. Forgive my selfish heart - take my life and let it be consecrated Lord to you. Amen.


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