Looking unto Jesus and not at our meditations, our prayers, our pious conversations, our profitable reading, the meetings that we attend or even our participation in the Lord’s Supper. Let us faithfully continue all these but without turning our gaze away from Him who alone makes them effective when, through them, He reveals Himself to us.
In Matthew 6 the Lord Jesus assumes the believer will be about the habit of doing righteousness. We will do alms (good works), we will pray, we will fast. Jesus says, “When you do these things” not “if you do these things.” Yet in the good of doing righteousness, Christ warns us that there is always the threat that self and sin will take over the activity. Do not do these things as to be seen of men. That is the warning. Don’t even do it so as to be seen of yourself. “Don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.”
How difficult it is not to tally our acts of righteousness and take satisfaction in the fact that WE prayed, and We meditated, and We read and We worshipped! Much of the music heard in the church today is filled with self affirming notations of what we are doing, feeling, and saying for God. Beware of this danger. We are turning our eyes from the Lord Jesus. He must fill our gaze, we must stop taking our own spiritual pulses.
Take heed that ye do not your righteousness before men, to be seen of them: else ye have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. When therefore thou doest alms, sound not a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have received their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: that thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father who seeth in secret shall recompense thee.
Matthew 6:1-4 ASV
Can We Pray? Dear Father of all glory, I would that to you all glory may be given in my life. Thank you for every opportunity and manner in which we may live out the righteous life to which you have called us. God let us not forsake these invitations to draw near to you in prayer, in fellowship, in worship. Yet Lord keep us from becoming connoisseurs of our own spiritual endeavors. How the ivy of self climbs over our best acts of worship! Empower us in the fight against the tendency to look with in and with out instead of steadily looking up to You. In Jesus Name, Amen