Reset // Matthew 6:1-4 // Week 6
The following is a manuscript of the sermon presented by Chris DeArman on Sunday November 8, 2020 at our Crosspoint Church – Bellaire Campus and in our Online Experience on youtube.com/cityriseorg. To view the sermon in full, please visit our YouTube page.
Welcome to church everybody! I’m excited to be here with you today online – I want to welcome those from our West U Baptist Campus, our Crosspoint Church – Bellaire Campus and our soon to be CityRise Missouri City Campus, and also welcome those who are new and checking out our church maybe for the first time. It’s good to be with you. My name is Chris DeArman and I serve as our Crosspoint Church – Bellaire Campus Pastor.
Take a minute and grab your coffee and your copy of God’s Word and meet me in Matthew 6.
Over the summer my daughter hit a milestone: she earned her driver’s license. Pray for us! Pray for yourselves! Insurance is no joke! COVID made it interesting to say the least, but she did great on her test and is now out on the road. Now that my daughter is driving, I find myself saying things to my daughter like, “It’s raining so be careful on the road, give plenty of space between cars, don’t stop too quickly, go slow…watch out for idiots on the road…I’d rather you be late and healthy than be on time and injured.” Can you identify? I’m constantly giving her warnings as she heads out of the driveway! Man, I’m sounding more and more like my dad! Scary!
We’re in our RESET series walking through some lessons from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’ most famous sermon. In this sermon Jesus is resetting hearts, restoring, rebuilding, recalibrating. In this sermon Jesus pulls out his spiritual defibrillator to restore what was gone wrong, where the heart isn’t beating correctly.
Look what he tells us today – “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). Jesus starts out with a warning: BEWARE. Be careful. Be cautious. This word was used to describe when a ship is brought from water to land. Jesus is saying tie up the boat! Just as I find myself loving my daughter well by barking out “be careful” every time she pulls out of the driveway, we see Jesus loving people by telling them, don’t run with scissors, look both ways, there’s danger ahead.
According to Jesus what’s so dangerous? Does he talk to them about the dangers of playing with fire or not having your firearm locked up or driving too fast? No, he says to them, it’s dangerous if you are practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them.
- Look at verse 2, 5, 16: Thus, when you give to the needy… Look at verse 5, when you pray…Look at verse 16, when you fast.
We normally don’t give warnings about giving, praying, and fasting. Have you ever warned your kids about these things? I have never once warned my kids, like, “Hey Charleigh, be careful when giving,” or “Hey Kinley, watch out when you pray,” or “Emma, be careful when you fast.” But here’s Jesus, giving warnings on these things.
Let’s dig into what Jesus is actually doing here. Jesus says it’s dangerous when you so desperately desire the attention of others.
- Vs. 1 – “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order TO BE SEEN BY THEM…”
- Vs. 2 – “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, THAT THEY MAY BE PRAISED BY OTHERS.”
Remember, he’s looking out into this crowd as he is sitting on the side of a hill- think Austin terrain. His eyes meet Pharisees and Scribes and religious elites. And he says in a very direct way – heads up – don’t follow these guys. They want to be made much of. They give in order to be glorified. They pray in order to be praised. They fast so that they’ll be featured.
So here’s Jesus, danger ahead. And he’s so good to point this out. He tells us why it’s dangerous. Big Idea: There is danger in impression management.
Check out Jesus’ words in Matthew 23: 1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, 3 so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. 4 They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. 5 They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, 6 and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues 7 and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others.
The norm in Jesus’ day was to be driven by what others think about you, how they perceive you, to gain the applause and attention and affection of people. Look with me at Matthew 20:17-21: 17 And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them, 18 “See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death 19 and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.”20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. 21 And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.”
Did you catch that? Jesus tells his guys he will soon be delivered over, crucified, condemned and murdered, and raised up 3 days later. The mother of 2 of the disciples (James and John) really isn’t interested in hearing that from Jesus; instead she asks Jesus if they can have the places of honor next to Jesus. I want my boys to be respected, admired, applauded. Jesus, can you do that?
So in Jesus’ day the norm was for people to be driven by what others think about you, and listen up, the same is true today! Take Social Media. How many likes? Oh, if I could just get verified. I love that feeling when my phone blows up because someone has liked my post. Listen to the words of a recent article in Psychology Today on The Active Use of Social Media:
“The active use of social media refers to the practice of regularly posting videos, pictures, status updates, comments, or posts. This can involve strenuous impression management, often with the purpose of seeking the approval and admiration of others. In psychology, this is known as a search for ‘external validation’. In urban slang, it is known as ‘fishing for likes’.”
“Indeed, this process can result in an unhealthy self-scrutiny of body image, physical appearance, and general lifestyle. Some research indicates that strenuous efforts to portray a ‘my fun-filled life’ version of reality can have severe psychological costs, especially if the desired approval and validation is not forthcoming. This can lead to self-doubt and self-loathing. In worst case scenarios, active use can lead to ridicule or attack, rather than compliments or praise. Taken to extremes, this can result in the well-known phenomena of cyber-bullying, which has been associated with suicidal behaviour in recent years.“
So here’s Jesus – There is danger in impression management. It’s dangerous when we desire something more than God. Idolatry. It’s dangerous. They made an idol out of gaining the attention and affection of others. And if we’re being honest, we can drift here as well.
- Tim Keller says an idol is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give…An idol is whatever you look at and say, in your heart of hearts, “If I have that, then I’ll feel my life has meaning, then I ‘ll know I have value, then I’ll feel significant and secure.”
Jesus says to them and us – man, it’s dangerous when you MUST have compliments; when your self-worth DEPENDS entirely on what others think about you. In these verses, Jesus is addressing people who absolutely craved this from others. Lusted after it, planned it out, created moments where they could be seen giving to people in need. Jesus said they would announce their giving with trumpets. They would stand in the synagogues and street corners praying lofty, wordy prayers…they would walk around looking saddened as they fasted in order to get attention from others.
Jesus called them hypocrites. This word means “actor on a stage performing.” The implication from Jesus here is if we find ourselves practicing giving, fasting, praying, any religious activity for attention, we have a problem…we have an affection / identity problem. Just as an actor on a stage, we are living in a struggle of the heart that isn’t real affection for God. And this is dangerous.
If we’re honest we all bump into this from time to time. I know I do. I want to hear “well-done. Good job. You’re awesome. Great sermon!” I like the dopamine hit from the applause of people. And so do you. Atta boys and girls and compliments are fine to enjoy, gifts of encouragement from the Lord. But listen, what happens when we HAVE to have these? What happens when our self-worth depends entirely from others?
- What happens when the boss doesn’t thank you or give you credit?
- What happens when the spouse doesn’t tell you how awesome you are?
- What happens when the parent doesn’t encourage you?
- What happens when you don’t get the “likes” you were hoping for on your post, while others do?
Listen, what happens is your world falls apart. Ditto here. If we’ve built our identity on other people, then if we experience any rejection or bump in the road with that counterfeit god, then we start to question ourselves, feel bad, feel sick, feel down. Man, we may comprise in order to gain affection of others, we may buy things we don’t need to impress people we don’t even know. We may make decisions that are crazy, why? To get the dopamine hit of someone affirming me!
Man, it’s exhausting to live for the applause of people. It’s exhausting to play the impression management game. It never ends. It will wear you out and wear you down. The selfie has to be just right, why? To get the likes and shares. The sermon has to be amazing in order to keep my reputation. I’ve got to post the bible verse because I need other people to consider me a good person. Pastors, I’ve got to post a clip of my sermon/my message so that others can share, and I can get likes. (Ouch!) Louie Giglio says “If we live for people’s approval, we will die by their rejection.”
Jesus says, if you want to go that direction, go for it. The world will give you a reward. But Jesus says, “Do you want a reward from the world, or do you want a reward from the Father? Which is better?” Your answer will illuminate your god.
The Good News: I have good news for you today. We have ammunition to battle the misplaced identity war, to battle “impression management.” All of us are in the fight. Ephesians 1:1-14. I don’t have time to read these, but do this for me. This next week, read the first 14 verses in Ephesians.
- I am chosen by God
- I am blameless because of Jesus
- I am adopted and now a child of God
- I am redeemed through Jesus
- I am forgiven by Jesus
- I have access to unending grace
- I have an inheritance
- I am sealed with the Spirit
Man, when you camp out on these truths here, you’ll find the need for the applause of people to disappear; you’ll find your self-worth not in what people perceive you to be, but in the one who created you, loves you, forgives you, redeems you, seals and secures you!
Question on the table today – where am I practicing “impression management?” Identify and begin to battle it! Get freedom and peace by replacing it with Jesus.