“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 ESV)
Jesus warned us against doing the right things for the wrong reasons. It’s a choice between image and integrity.
I was in Israel a few years ago, and after a long and hot day in the Golan Heights, we returned to our hostel on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Earlier that morning, a friend and I swum in the sea and enjoyed the refreshing water. So we decided late in the afternoon to swim again and cool off from the summer heat. We had swum out about a mile when we realized we were caught in a strong current and being carried down the sea. Turns out the currents run much stronger in the evening. The same thing happens as followers of Jesus live in the world. We get caught in a current of worldly values that pulls us out of integrity with Jesus. We want to appear successful, confident, and professional. Our society is obsessed with image. That’s just what Jesus warned against – giving to the poor to create an image of compassion, praying in public to appear “Christian,” fasting in public to appear pious – making decisions based on how others will see us. Image is driven by pride, fear, and ego, and we find ourselves asking these kinds of questions:
- What will people think of me if I do this?
- How will the boss perceive me if I take time off for a family event?
- This coat is warmer, but I look much better in the other one.
- If we advocate for this issue, how will it affect my work and my business?
- How will this statement make my company look in the eyes of the media?
We “edge God out”(EGO). We become two-faced and lose our ability to lead. How are you edging God out?
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