Doing Righteousness Before Men

In Matthew 5 we are charged to hunger and thirst for righteousness and to let our light shine before men so that God gets praised. The Christian life is oriented to Him getting glory. I see two temptations in me:

1. to let my light shine so that people praise me

2. to be so scared of (1) that I don't let people see good deeds for fear of siphoning off God's glory

Matthew follows this immediately with teaching from Jesus about living in faith in order to receive God's reward not Man's reward. In three teachings he says don't pray, fast and give like hypocrites - which means saying you are doing it for God when in fact you are doing it for yourself.

Here is a great danger for leaders who are undercapitalised (ie not given the practical and spiritual resources they need to keep energised and spiritually fresh). We know we have to do deeds that are seen - but for whose glory? There is a hair's breadth between doing it so God will be praised and so I will be praised. It is not wrong that the hypocrites give, fast and pray, its why they do it.

Why would people get tempted down the hypocrite route. I don't think anyone starts out thinking that's where they want to go. I doubt they were trying to be evil. I suspect they were in an environment that expected spiritual-looking people to present in a certain way, and to receive validation for their spiritual living in certain ways. 

I am in that environment too. The more leaders are divorced from spiritual nurture and encouragement, the more we seek validation elsewhere. Every time a church doesn't help its leaders receive the spiritual input they require, they tempt them to go looking for encouragement in illegitimate places. Every time a church implies that its leaders should be sinless, they tempt them to put themselves on a pedastool which forbids them dealing with their sin patterns.

I assume there was a time before the people in Matthew 6 became hypocrites, when they didn't ache to be validated and affirmed by people. I wonder what it was that changed them, and how I can avoid going there.