Matthew 6:1-4, (10:8,19:16-22)
While Jesus was teaching his followers on the mountain, he said:
……..“It is good to put the disciplines of godly living into practice, but be on your guard against the temptation to start doing it for show. The God who conceived you knows what’s going on, and if the good things you do are done only to impress people, you’ll get no credit for them in heaven.
……..“Don’t go blowing your own trumpet every time you do something charitable. If you give money for the relief of poverty, don’t go asking for public acknowledgement. The world is full of sponsorship schemes and naming rights’ deals, but it is all hypocrisy; it’s got more to do with image management than with concern for the poor. Of course it works as a business strategy, but I can assure you that there will be no rewards beyond that.
The term Godly living has always made me cringe as I reflect on the numerous sermons and apparent ethics lessons that have been dictated by pastors from the front of churches. We seem to get caught up in the idea that living a Godly life has only to do with me the individual and sometimes forgets that what is mostly preached about is only part of the conversation.
Here in Matthew there is a clear call to not be ‘show boating’ or ‘gloating’ about your good deeds, but rather to do them as part of who you are. I like the fact that Matthew assumes that good deeds happen, and the encouragement to do with them without the need for validation. This connects into a greater question of identity, asking ‘do we need to be recognised all the time for things that are inherently part of our greater call to love thy neighbour? Or do we just get caught up in the love thy self first?’
Today I think Matthew asks us to consider ‘why do we do what we do? Is it because we have too? Is it because we must? Is it because we want to be seen as do gooders? Or is it because within each of us the hope of God is in living out the gospel message to be salt and light in the world?’
Perhaps the image above is a bit tongue in cheek but I reckon it does suggest that we need to rethink the things we do and why we do them. I recently heard a story from a member of my congregation who had lent her car to a young man to help him get to a job interview. The car was old and was always a worry to drive but it never broke down on her. This day whilst the car was out it burst a pipe and apparently it had simply perished over time. The young man driving was trained in mechanical works and fixed it quickly; getting him to his job interview and for the kind lady her car kept going. A simple act of kindness of lending her car but this woman could not believe how lucky she was that someone else had borrowed the car and that the right person was driving at the right time.
Our Godly living need not be complicated. For me Godly living means offering love, receiving hope and being light in the dark places of life. Sometimes it is not always easy and sure I will fail at times, but Godly living is not achieved by a simple Sunday sermon of call to change, it is a choice to be a people of God, following God and realising that with that comes not much thanks, but rather a life of love that will mean more than the praise of the people around but rather an identity that is in God, of God and for God.
Today there is an opportunity to pause and reflect on what godly living really means for each of us. Its time to loose the age old doctrinal statement lead Godly life style and really embrace what love means.
Take a look around and perhaps today is an opportunity to offer an act of love, take in someone’s wheelie bins, give the guy 10 bucks who cleans your windscreen at the traffic lights, look for something that you can do that no one really needs to know about.
I guarantee God is looking….