Do You Want Your Reward Now, Or Later?

l-nrbl5v8h1lr2i2

Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 6:1)

You always knew when a Pharisee was about to perform a good work. Trumpets blasted before they gave to the poor. They knelt on street corners before they prayed. They were loud and proud about their religion.

They wanted the world to know that they were serving God. They wanted the praise of men.

And they got their reward. People respected the Pharisees for their religious zeal. But that was all that they got. No reward from God. No honor from the only person who truly matters.

When I “practice righteousness” so that other people will give me praise, that’s all I get. The lame, unimportant, unsatisfying praise of others. When I lead worship, or serve a brother, or write a blog post, or give advice, or post a status update, purely for the compliments of people, that’s my reward.

Lord, help me serve you, for Your glory.

The Biggest Sinner In The House

Not only did Jesus knock Paul off his horse on the road to Damascus, he knocked the self-righteous stuffing out of him as well.? The proud Pharisee came to see himself as the worst sinner he knew.

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost (1 TI 1.15).

Was Paul exaggerating for shock value?? Or was he some kind of self-loathing Eeyore who needed a big dose of self-esteem?

No. Paul realized that every sin is infinitely evil, because it is against an infinitely holy God, and requires the infinitely perfect blood of Christ to remove it.? He simply had a realistic view of his own sinfulness.

When I view myself as the foremost of sinners, it’s so much easier to forgive others, because no matter what they may do to me, I’ve done worse to God, yet he saved and forgave me.

I crucified Christ.

My sins ripped the flesh off his back, rammed the thorns into his head and hammered the spikes into his hands and feet.

I’m the biggest sinner in the house.

I’m the foremost sinner in my marriage: How can I not forgive my wife when God has forgiven me for slaughtering Jesus, the apple of his eye?

Foremost sinner in my family: How can I fume at my kids, when I?ve jilted God longer than they’ve been breathing, and still do despite all the years I’ve read the Bible, listened to sermons and received innumerable blessings?

Foremost sinner in my church:
How can I smolder against my brother’s sins, when my mountains of iniquity have been washed away by Christ’s blood?

Maybe people have hurt you deeply and you’ve suffered much.? Though it may be difficult, ask Jesus today for grace to see yourself as the foremost of sinners, and for grace to forgive, as he has forgiven you.

photo by pterantula

Pharisees Anonymous

The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ?God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.? I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.? (LK 18.11-12)

I’m glad I’m not like that self-righteous Pharisee, so glad I have to pray.

Lord, thank you that I’m a Christian, not an alcoholic or a drug addict.? Thank you that I don?t swear, that I’m not like gays and lesbians or abortionists or those liberal idiots in Washington.? Thank you that I don’t have purple hair and I’m not covered with tattoos and piercings.? I tithe and read my Bible and pray before meals.? I even prayed last week in Ruby Tuesday.

Hey, wait a minute…

I am the Pharisee.

“We are all naturally self-righteous; it is the family disease of all the children of Adam. We secretly flatter ourselves that we are not so bad as some so that we have something to recommend us to God.” — JC Ryle

I am the Pharisee when my teenager sins and I say ?How could you do that??

I am the Pharisee when I believe I’m right and can?t possibly be wrong.

I am the Pharisee when I think ?I hope my wife is listening to this message.?

I am the Pharisee when I judge my fellow Christian thinking, ?I can?t believe he would do that.? I never would.?

I am the Pharisee when I feel disgust for any unbeliever, or fail to pity them in their sin.

Only the blood of Jesus can cure me.? The only antidote for my self-righteousness is Christ’s righteousness, and the only cure for my self-flattery is boasting in the cross.

Join my club, Pharisees Anonymous.? I’m President, but we still need a sergeant-at-arms.