Saturday, January 13, 2018

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Hey, Look at Me!
Matthew 6:1-9
Vs. 4a. So that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
In a small college town a pub frequented by students ran the following ad in the campus newspaper before the Parent’s Weekend: “Bring your parents for lunch on Saturday.  We’ll pretend we don’t know you!”  The college chaplain decided to post a revised version on the campus bulletin board which read, “Bring your parents to Church on Sunday.  We’ll pretend we know you!” 
Genuineness is a virtue of true Christian living.  This passage is a section of the Sermon on the Mount of Jesus Christ.  It addresses the nature of hypocrisy that permeates the religious realm of worship and witness.  Christ notes that faith expression is related to the purity of intention; in other words, the “why” [are we doing it] and the “who” [are we doing it for] of every spiritual act.  Therefore, genuineness in our relationship with Christ is a spiritual testimony as opposed to a physical measure of words and deeds.  However, let us not forget that faith without works is dead (James 2:17).  This passage posits relevant lessons for developing a true Christian character of prayer and faith. 
Holiness of Righteousness
In the first few verses of Matthew 6, Jesus focuses on the subject of righteous deeds.  He instructs the people to not seek attention or praise when they have helped the poor.  Instead, Jesus indicates that your giving to the poor should be “in secret” or without fanfare.  It is in this way that God may be understood as the true source of the help received and the faithful as a medium of His blessing.  It is also in this manner that one may relate to the less fortunate in an honorable dignified manner of love and comradeship, instead of from a privileged hierarchal stance.  Essentially, the message denotes that the one who has is not above the one who does not have; rather, it is responsibility of the one who has more to give to the one who has less. Thus, it is not charity that the poor need but, love in the experience of self-denial.  It is in this witness of love that true holiness may be realized.  Holiness in Christian life stems from being set apart for righteousness through sincere acts of mercy and love.    Let our righteous deeds truly be the fruit of our holy lives.
 Piety of Prayer
In verses 5-8, Jesus instructs concerning undue motives behind prayer.  Christ points out that prayer must not become an occasion for self-glorification whether it be “in the synagogue” or “on the street corners”(v.5).  Furthermore, prayer should not be mindless “babble” (v.7).  The piety of prayer refers to the reverence that one must offer not simply through words but, through a dialogue of the heart to the Eternal God.  It is not a religious act but, a humble commitment of faith.  Christ is truly challenging the people to have a change of heart and mindset.  That is, not to view prayer as an entitlement to abuse as one desires but, as a precious gift of conversing with the Divine.  It is the humble acceptance of God as Father of our life and source of all blessings.  It is to this spiritual awareness and to the denial of selfish aims that Christ invites the faithful to in the experience of prayer.  Moreover, Christ communicates the necessity of a proper atmosphere during prayer that is free of distractions such as, the desire to please others over God.  How genuine is your Christian life?  Has hypocrisy crept into your witness?
O Lord God, may I live in your holiness so that I may shine forth your righteousness to the world. AMEN. 
If a man will be righteous and equal, let him see, with his neighbor’s eyes, in his own case; and with his own eyes, in his neighbor’s case.  – Benjamin Whichcote
Rev. Jaisen Thomas, St. Thomas MTC, Yonkers, NY
Christian Education Forum, Diocese of NAE of the Mar Thoma Church