Who are you righteous to?

Jesus says:

“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.[1]

He then goes on to give three examples of this, giving, fasting and praying. We are not to do these things for the attention of others in public, showy ways. Usually when these verses are taught the focus is on

  1. Humility -we are not looking for praise from others
  2. Benefit -you don’t do these things to get something back in return.

Those are great points but I also want to reflect more on that phrase “practicing your righteousness before other people.” The issue is also about who I am righteous to/with. Who do I have a right standing with.

It’s not just about the negative “don’t be righteous in front of people.” It’s about the positive need to be righteous in front of God.  People are not able to properly determine my righteousness and nor are they able to give an eternal reward.

It’s God’s evaluation of my righteousness that matters. I need to practice it in front of him. Then I realise that my righteousness is useless. In front of God it is like filthy rags. In front of God, no-one is righteous.

The reward (wages) for my righteousness is death.  My righteousness doesn’t cut it.

However I stand before God not in my own righteousness but in Christs. God rewards Christ’s righteousness (and me in Christ) with life.

[1] Matthew 6:1