Hymns of Praise:
SDAH: 25, 27, 3
Season of Prayer
Prayer of Adoration and Thanksgiving
Prayer to seek forgiveness
Prayer to seek the presence of the Holy Ghost
Scripture: Matthew 6: 1-5
Have you ever seen the great Boxing Legend, Mohammed Ali in the ring? He was one of the most invincible boxers. He was undefeatable and he was the champion people paid to go watch. He fought to win so his fans would not be disappointed. He fought to please his fans. His duty was to show off to fans that he was capable and those who gambled were there to win if he would win.
Unlike the boxing legend and his display in the ring, our Christian battle, worship and journey is not a showoff. Thus, one of the most important expectations of Christ’s followers is to come to his presence with genuine hearts. Christ admonished the children of God gathered. (Matthew 6). He warned them, asking them to take heed so that their work as worshipers would not be in vain. To genuinely seek the face of God we must come with genuine hearts.
“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.
This was a warning. It meant that there is an impending danger. Christ knows what is going on with Christians today—That we worship to show off. In all we do, be it our alms; be it our prayer; be it our work for the church; be it our fasting; if we do them because we want men to see, if we do them just to display to others, if we do whatever we do as Christians because we want to receive approval from men, then Christ says we will have no rewards and we would have worked in vain. Do you want to work hard as a church elder so members can say you are good? Jesus says you are a loser. You have no reward.
Our worship should not be to receive Glory from men else we are already losers. We have not come before God as the boxing legends do, displaying themselves to their audience. As Christians, we shall lose if we shall live our lives to please others. The Lord calls us to come before Him with genuine hearts. The Lord calls us to follow him with truthful hearts. The Lord says live to please me. Live to Glorify me. “I am the Lord: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another.” (Isaiah 42: 8).
Are you at this prayer meeting because everyone is coming? Are you here because of the pastor, or the elder? The Lord says we will be here in vain. Do we come to church dressed up because we want other members to praise us? Do you come to church purposely for something else other than the Lord? If it so, then Jesus says you will have no reward. As a church, as individuals, it is time to start looking at how to worship and live our Christian lives with genuine hearts. It is time to not look at the doing of others to fall from the faith.
Living our Christian lives to please men is an indication of coming before Christ in the flesh. In the flesh we cannot please God. Are we returning our tithes because someone might say we are not doing so? Is it because you want the church to know you return tithes faithfully? The Lord says you will have no reward. How can we seek the face of the Lord if our doings yield no reward?
Christ disapproved of the Pharisees because they displayed their worship of God just to have the approval of men. They fasted in display for people to see they did, and that they were the true adherents to the Law. “Their seasons of fasting were occasions of outward ceremony. They did not humble their hearts before God. They were filled with bitterness, envy, malice, strife, selfishness, and self-righteousness. While their heads were bowed in pretended humiliation, they were covetous, full of self-esteem, self-importance. They were oppressive, exacting, proud in spirit.”(SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5 EGW).
Many of us follow Christ with Christian masks. We come to church and outwardly we make people see us as true Christians; true Adventists, yet our hearts are not genuine before Christ. Christ says we have no reward. One day we might be told the “I knew you not” story. Are you just covering up? Are you just showing off to men? Are you genuine in heart before God the Almighty? Christ is crying out: “Take heed! Take heed!”
If we shall practice outward ceremony as a church, we shall allow the devil to take over instead of God. Like the Pharisees, we cannot humble our hearts and we shall only have a proud spirit. Brothers and Sisters let us pray to God to give us genuine hearts to come before him. If you find yourself guilty as we all do, then let’s join in prayer to seek the face of the Lord.
- Pray for the Lord to give us genuine hearts as we worship and live our lives as Christians, we can eschew outward ceremony to please men.
- Pray for the forgiveness of sins as we are all guilty at one time or the other of seeking to please men and seeking man’s approval instead of God
- Pray the Lord to give us a unified church body
By Daniel Dickson Boateng PhD
Seventh-Day Adventist Theological Seminary
Andrews University, Michigan