Dear Church Family and Community,
“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 6:1
What do you think of when you hear the word righteousness? Do you think of its definition – to be morally right or justifiable? Do you think of God being the righteous one? Do you think of times you or others have not been righteous? Or perhaps what comes to mind are times that people were acting holier than thou, but really just being righteous in their own eyes? What is righteousness to you, and how have you come to understand it?
I will confess, my first conceptualization of righteousness was very much focused on outer appearance. I forgot that God looks at the heart. Instead I thought righteousness was simply what we could see, how we were called to live, and the fruit of our goodness. Time and a better understanding of the Scriptures have helped me learn that God alone is perfectly righteous. And the Spirit opens our eyes and our hearts to Jesus, our Savior, the full manifestation of God.
Righteousness looks like Jesus. Righteousness is found in Jesus. Jesus lived and breathed God’s righteousness so that we can see it, learn it, and then model it in our lives. For me, righteousness is best defined as living and loving like Jesus. If you want to be righteous, it is Christ you must always follow in deed and in truth, and not just with word and tongue. Our righteousness also must be for God alone. We live and love like Jesus and the Spirit works in and through us to make the kingdom come.
The trouble for us is that our righteousness can be betrayed by our hearts, our motives, and our pride. Living like Jesus means loving and serving others. It means that we are committed to taking all that God has graced with, and gifting it so others can see, feel, and know the love of God. It also means living to store up treasure in heaven, without missing the reward of helping others being drawn to Christ, held by our Father, and covered by the Holy Spirit here on earth.
In Matthew 6, Jesus commands us to serve others to please God. In so doing, we live and love like Jesus, and look like Jesus to our world. Our worship of God should be seen in all of life. All that we do and all that we have been gifted is a chance to worship God. In this chapter, Jesus names giving to the poor, prayer, fasting – spiritual disciplines common to his disciples. But the command comes with a warning – serve others as part of your worship, to please God and not to please others.
To prepare for this week’s service, I would like to invite you to spend the next few days intentionally meditating on Matthew 6:1-4. To help you reflect, I would like to ask you to focus on the following questions:
- How has your understanding of righteousness changed over the years?
- Where is one place you feel God calling you to be righteous (to live and love like Christ), for the sake of others?
- Is there anyone you can commit to praying for this week?
- Is there a cause close to your heart that you can bless this week?
One of the great blessings of our church is our people here. I am so grateful to walk alongside this family of God’s servants here. It is humbling and exciting to see and hear of all the ways we collectively use our gifts to serve God, our church, and community. Christ’s command is for us to keep on serving, but to always do it for the kingdom and for God’s glory. So, we tarry on, shining brighter as we keep on doing the work.
God bless you all, and take care.
Love in Christ,
P: (717) 561-2170, ext. 104
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