July 16 I Thursday

Psalms 16-17

Acts 20:1-16

“Everything they do is done for people to see…” 

—Matthew 23:5


Are there things that we do so that others would notice a certain characteristic in us? The Pharisees were such people in the New Testament. Jesus says, “Everything they do is done for people to see: they make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honour at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the market-places and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others” (Matthew 23:5-7).

While the phylacteries and tassels were instructed in the book of Exodus to serve as a visual reminder of God and His commandments, the Pharisees exaggerated the phylacteries and tassels by making them extra obvious to be seen by men. Jesus warns, “Be careful not to practise 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). We must be careful to notice if we fall into the trap of being a “Pharisee,” especially if we take the Bible seriously, believe it implicitly and are theologically conservative, because we can easily become subject to the same seduction that attracted and diverted the Pharisees away from the simplicity and freedom—two very important words in the Christian life—that is ours in Christ.

The late German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer is credited for coining the term, “Religionless Christianity,” where the content, real life in Christ, is supreme and the context, perfectly obeying His laws, becomes secondary. However, if we move away from the spiritual reality, the context becomes supreme and the content becomes secondary. Bonhoeffer raised the question,
“What might Christianity look like without the trappings of religion?”
If we took away all the religious outgrowth, what would the “real thing” actually look like? He contended a need “for a radical revision of Christianity in a secular age where it has for too long been bound by rules and regulations of men and not by the presence and activity of God.”

Our spiritual life should not be defined by external ornaments. Rather, our lives should be witness to others that God is doing something, God is real, we enjoy His love and we reciprocate our love to Him.
Hebrews 10:16 tells us, “This is the covenant
I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put My laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” God’s law is written on our hearts that we may live lives that reflect His character, not as a burden, because it has become the natural consequence of our relationship with Him.

Prayer: Lord God, forgive when I try to show-off my spirituality for others to see and give me praise. I pray that my life will be a natural outpouring of who You are because of a relationship that I have with You. Amen!


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