Focal passage: Matthew 6:1-8, 16-18
As a child, my favorite board game was Candyland. What little girl does not love a world full of chocolate, lollipops and princesses? Of the hundreds of times I played the game with my mom, my most vivid memory is the day I proudly suggested she draw the first card. I set up the game, shuffled the deck and with a beaming smile exclaimed, “OK, Mom. This time I’m letting you go first.”
Though Mom was initially impressed with my humility, moments later she discovered it was a sham. I had stacked the deck, placing the winning card second from the top. I was allowing my mom to draw first, knowing that in doing so I would win the game.
It is easy to chuckle at my strategy, but this problem of doing right things with wrong motives is not unique to four-year-olds. As Christians, our actions of obedient worship are far too often marred by the sinfulness of our hearts.
Jesus addressed the motives of his followers in the Sermon on the Mount when He cautioned, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them” (Matthew 6:1). He warned that the spiritual disciplines of giving, fasting and prayer do not honor God when done for self-promotion.
Jesus came to redeem every aspect of our lives, even worship. He longs to transform the inner motivation of our hearts so our worship glorifies Him instead of ourselves. When we give, pray and fast in secret, we proclaim to God that He alone is worthy of our worship, and as a result, He lavishes us with an immeasurable reward.
I won the game of Candyland that day, but there was no real reason to celebrate. My reward came, but it was empty. In the same way, unless we allow Christ to transform our worship, our spiritual reward will be empty.
But, praise God, if we seek to make Christ the focus of our worship, He will reward us with Himself!