I have some questions about this passage —
(Mat 6:1-6 ESV) “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.
2 “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. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
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. 6 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.”
(Mat 6:16-18 ESV) “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. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 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 that Jesus inserts the Lord’s Prayer in the midst of three examples condemning hypocrisy. Why? Well, that’s for post on the Lord’s Prayer.
“Hypocrite” translates the Greek word for actor — someone who plays a part. And he is accusing some Jews of doing their good works to build their reputation in the community. And in an honor culture, this makes consideration sense. If what’s important to you is how you’re perceived rather than how good you are, announce your good deeds as loudly as possible. And we have plenty examples of the Greeks and Romans acting the same way. But, of course, Jesus expects more from us than pagan standards of morality. Continue reading