Monday, October 22, 2007

The Kingdom of Authentic Living

Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. (Matthew 6:1)
The earliest Greek manuscripts do not have the word for “charitable deeds” here, but the word for “righteousness.” That is why the NASB translates this as “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them.” The word for “to be seen,” is an interesting on in this context. It is the verb theaomai. As a noun form, it is theatron, which is where we get the English word “theatre.”

This verse serves as an introduction for the next three sections regarding the acts of charity, prayer and fasting. In each section, Jesus warns us not to be like the “hypocrites.” The Greek word is hypokrites and literally refers to actors, those who pretend, play a part, and wear a mask. The venue for actors, of course, is the theatre, where they can be put on display to “wow” the audience.

Jesus is speaking to the motivations of the heart. Giving alms, prayer and fasting were basic acts of Jewish piety, and were to be encouraged. But they were not ends in themselves, and were not to be performed with great outward display, but simply and sincerely, from the heart.

For those who wanted to make a show of their piety, to be seen by men for their deeds, such display would be all the reward they would receive — empty and fleeting fame. There would be no reward for them with God, who does not look only at the outward appearance, but upon the heart.

The kingdom of heaven on earth requires authentic living.



The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth

The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth
Keys to the Kingdom of God
in the Gospel of Matthew

by Jeff Doles

Preview with Amazon’s “Look Inside.”

Available in paperback and Kindle (Amazon), epub (Google and iTunes) and PDF.