Matthew 6 : 16 - 21, "Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. NKJV
There are two types of mindsets mentioned in the Word of God. There is an eternal perspective, and there is an earthly or temporal perspective. The person who has an eternal outlook on this life will live for Christ. However, the person who has an earthly take on life will live only for themselves; they will not concern themselves with eternity.
When Jesus preached His Sermon on the Mount, He emphasized to God’s chosen people just how vitally important it was for them to obey God because He wanted them to have treasure in heaven. He also warned them not to be like the scribes, Pharisees, and hypocrites, who did religious activity only to be seen by people... rather than to please God. According to Matthew 6, they received their reward when they sought to impress men...in other words, that’s all they got. However, if we choose to obey God in secret, then He will reward us openly.
James warns us in his epistle to be doers of the Word and not just hearers only. If we are merely hearers, we won’t follow through with obedient actions; consequently, we deceive ourselves. If we should decide to do only those things that our flesh nature agrees to, instead of obeying the Holy Spirit, then we will have no eternal reward laid up for us in heaven ( 1 Corinthians 3:15). In Matthew 16, Jesus teaches us to deny ourselves, take up our cross daily, and to follow Him. Consequently, if we practice these commands, we will store up treasures in heaven, and God will reward us here on earth as well...all because we have chosen to please Him instead of ourselves.
It’s human nature for a person to want to do only just enough to “get by.” Jesus addresses this slothful attitude in His sermon. He gives many examples of how the scribes and Pharisees had “watered-down” the commandments of God in order to please themselves. Jesus also said that they would not enter into the kingdom of heaven. The Lord goes on to tell us to "Go the extra mile.” When we go beyond the limitations and weaknesses of our flesh, and we obey God’s voice and Word, then He will reward us for our sacrificial obedience unto Him.
Paul tells us in Colossians 3 not to be “man pleasers,” only doing those things that we think will please someone so that we might receive a reward or accolade from them. Instead, he instructs us to do everything as unto the Lord; if we seek to please God, He can reward our faith.
It’s obvious to us that God used the story of the scribes, the Pharisees, and the hypocrites as examples of men, who were trying to appease God with their own unrighteous works. However, their labor in the flesh was not accepted by Him. In comparison, we see Jesus, who exceeded, through simple obedience, all that the religious zealots had done in the “name of God.” Jesus never tried to make excuses for disobedience; He never killed one lamb or goat to atone for His sins because He ALWAYS obeyed His Father. Like Jesus, our faith and reward only begin when we say “NO” to our fleshly ways and obey God’s will. (Ro. 10:4)
If you, too, desire to please your heavenly Father and want to receive an eternal reward for your obedient works, then you must first crucify self and its evil passions; and, after that be willing to listen to the direction of God in your life. Faith alone is what God requires to please Him. Jesus did just that! Therefore, we, who obey like Jesus did and walk by faith, instead of pleasing ourselves are going to have both an eternal reward and be blessed while on earth.
Through Christ Alone,
Pastor Asa Dockery
Pastor Asa Dockery