Scripture: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-8
Key verses: (3-4) “But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
Reflection: During a recent workout, the person leading the class encouraged us “to move from self-consciousness to self-awareness.” He was speaking about physical awareness as it related to fatigue, but the phrase struck a chord with me. Within Family Systems Theory, the work of self-differentiation involves moving from self-consciousness to self-awareness; that is from focusing on what others think of you to focusing on what you think of you. As one of my coaches once said to me, “What other people think of you is none of your business!”
Today’s reading from Matthew comes from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Jesus proposes a shift in thinking about religious practice. “Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them,” Jesus warns. In other words, “Don’t be holy because you are self-conscious about what others think of you.” Jesus goes on to give examples related to alms giving and to fasting. What others think of your piety is none of your business. All that really matters is what God thinks of your spiritual practice. Is it pleasing to God? Does it honor God? We are called to be conscious of what God thinks of our actions, and aware of our own motivations in our spiritual practice.
This Sunday is our final Sunday in our Annual Giving Campaign. Each year we are all invited to consider what we will give to support the ministry of the church. If you have not already made your commitment, you can do so here: https://myersparkpres.org/give/#pledge. We won’t be sounding any trumpets before you so that you might be publicly praised. What you give is between you and God. What others think of what you give is none of your business. What God thinks is all that really matters. As you make your decisions about this, focus your consciousness not on others, but on God. I pray that whatever you decide to do brings you joy in being a part of God’s work in the world, and the contentment found in living a life that is pleasing to God.
Prayer: O Lord, “I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.” Amen. (An excerpt from “The Merton Prayer,” being used by our Youth this year in their focus on the spiritual journey)
Author: Joe Clifford
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].
“Through the month of September, we’re examining “The Life that Really is Life” through our Annual Giving Campaign. We encourage you to make your pledge to support the ministry of Myers Park Presbyterian Church in 2020 at myersparkpres.org/pledge.”