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Text Box: True Inward Conversion


Text Box:  
(Matthew 6:1 NIV)  Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
(Ephesians 6:5-8 PGG)  Workers, obey your earthly bosses with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.  Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like workers of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart.  Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.
(Hebrews 11:6 GWT)  No one can please God without faith. Whoever goes to God must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
(Matthew 23:11 NIV)  The greatest among you will be your servant.
(Luke 9:62 NIV)  Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God."
(Matthew 23:27-28 NIV)  "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

Text Box: Many of us follow or have followed a script in our life.  If you are like me, you may have tended to plan out every single move for any single scenario that your mind has conjured up.  You may have a script for how you’re going to approach your boss if you don’t get your pay raise soon, or you may be planning what you’re going to tell your spouse when they discover that dent in the car, etc.
Why have such pre-meditated scripts?  Perhaps it is because we are trying to save face.  Maybe we are appeasing our conscience by justifying our actions and acting and talking as though already justified for whatever it was we said or did.  It is interesting that most of the scripts we prepare are to get us out of these kinds of situations.  When was the last time you were preparing a script for a good occasion (proposing, congratulating, promoting, giving, loving, praising, etc.)?  I am ashamed that I don’t have more of these kinds of scripts than the self-adulating ones.
(Mark 7:6-8 NIV)…"Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: "'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.  They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.'  You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men."
The Pharisees also made many scripts, especially for religious reasons.  Because they wanted to be justified before men, they made their religion a tradition-centered one.  It was more important to observe the tradition (to look good) than to do it with the right mindset or conscience (Matthew 23:1-12, 25-28).  Ritual-centered religion is not Christ-centered religion.  In order to please God we have to serve Him out of faith, not out of ritual or tradition (Hebrews 11:6).  
In this section of The Sermon of the Mount (Matthew 6), Jesus re-emphasizes the importance of true inward conversion, as opposed to external and superficial ritualistic observance.  Rituals are done to be associated with something or someone—the practice of Christianity comes because of true inward conversion! 
(Ephesians 6:7 NIV)  Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men…

In His Footsteps © 1998                                                    


Text Box: True Inward Conversion





Think of some things you may say or do at your job every day that is ritualistic (scripts).  Some examples: Saying “Hi, how’s everything (or any variant of this)”, or “Good morning”, or engaging in the latest office gossip, pretending you are doing your work when the boss or supervisor shows up, changing your tone of voice or mannerisms when you speak with your boss or supervisor, etc.  Make a list of these things and discuss them with your brother/sister in Christ as to how you can be more genuine in Christ.  Examine the following Scripture: Ephesians 6:5-8.  Could you agree to substitute slaves for workers or employees?  How should you obey your boss (supervisor)?  Are there any alternatives given to obeying your boss?  Is it OK to obey them only when they are looking at you?  Should you only do something for them when they ask you?  Should you obey them as you obey Christ?  Should you serve half-heartedly?  Should you be gossiping about them or giving them an attitude?  Now look at the list you wrote of ritualistic behavior.  What could you do to love and serve genuinely and whole-heatedly?  What things will you change?  Remember, ritualistic means there’s no genuineness or meaning to you personally.  Routine doesn’t necessarily mean ritualistic, depending on where your heart is.



Jesus begins Matthew 6 with a warning.  Our tendency to seek man’s justification and approval can lead us to live a double life.  Read John 4:15-24.  What kind of worshippers does our Father in Heaven seek?  What is more important in our worship of God, form or function (this is a trick question!)?  What is worship—how do we worship (see Romans 12:1, 2)?  Was the Samaritan woman at the well living a double-life?  How can you tell?  Maybe she kept her private life hidden from the sight of others so her peers would accept her.  However, can we keep a “private life” in Christ (see Hebrews 4:12, 13)?  



Is it wrong to do your acts of righteousness in the sight of others?  Read Matthew 5:16; 2 Corinthians 8:24; Matthew 6:1; 23:5-7.  What exactly is being condemned here, what you do or why you do it?  Can you see how the topic we are discussing this week ties into what we discussed last week, “True Love is an Equalizer”?  When you truly are a loving person, do you only do loving things and say loving things to those whom you want to impress, or do you do it to anyone and everyone?  Of course, we are going to have different relationships with every single person, but should we be partial to some and not to others in sharing and practicing our love?  Notice in Matthew 6:1, does Jesus expect us to do acts of righteousness?  Why does He want us to be careful?  What should be seen, our good deeds or us (Matthew 5:16)?



Read Isaiah 29:9-16.  Why did the Lord seal their eyes and covered their heads?   Why couldn't they read the Word of God?  Verse 13 is the central focus of this passage.  What kind of attitude does verse 13 describe?  Were they more interested in worshipping God or themselves?  Does this passage encourage us to make sure we are not acting out a pre-planned script (verse 15)? Read Mark 7:1-15.  Were the Pharisees engaging in traditions because it was pleasing to the Lord, or because they were honoring their elders?  What was their motive in holding other's to their standard of tradition?  What was their motive in encouraging others to devote themselves to God through giving gifts (Corban)? 



What kind of reward are you seeking?  What reward do you want?  Is it just the praises of men you want?  Maybe acceptance?  God's Kingdom is not a social club where we seek acceptance from one another, even though we get that kind of acceptance because of Jesus.  In God's Kingdom we can thrive, when we seek to please Him only.   This is why, at the end of chapter six, Jesus focuses us on the central pivoting point of the Sermon of the Mount by teaching us: "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." -- Matthew 6:22  What reward do you want?  Are you still planning for that dream house, that dream car?  Are you still plagued by desires for riches and worldly pleasures?  Is it a chore for you to meet together with the saints to study the Bible, to celebrate the Lord's supper, to fellowship and to pray?  What is your motive?  Read Haggai 1:4-9.  What was on the minds of these people in Haggai's time?  Does this mindset prevail today among the majority of the people in our society?  Have you brought this worldly mindset into God's Kingdom?


For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21


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