“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.” — Matthew 6:1-6
This passage of scripture is talking heart motives of a showoff-y pride and arrogance. It doesn’t say our righteousness being noticeable is sin. We are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. The fruit of His visible righteousness in us is our light to the world. They should see us as sincerely different from others. They should know that when they come to us, they will find a Christ-in-us response of love and care.
Two specifics covered by Jesus here is in our practice of giving and praying. The Pharisees and Sadducees were hypocritical and obnoxious in both giving and praying, desiring the praise and admiration of men. And yet, there giving was truly nothing compared to their ability to give (Mark12:41-44). Wealth was seen as a sign of being in right standing with God, so they sure weren’t going to give more than was comfortable. They truly gave very little of their great resources. It is an easy practice to fall into. And their praying, Jesus implies, was truly to themselves, not to God (Luke18:9-14, NASB).
Our giving must not be so we are honored by men, but is humbly done as a service to God, seeking Him for the amount and trusting, though the giving hurts our bottom line, He will meet our every need. And I can bear testimony that He always meets our true need. Our giving, especially toward the need of others, should go above and beyond, even to our own hurt. Though someone may see our giving, they also see how quietly it is done. The old woman Jesus pointed to was visible to all putting her meager two cents in. Only God, and those Jesus pointed her to as lesson, knew it was all she had to live on.
When we pray, my understanding of our inner room is that it is a place within our essence where only God matters. It is a place where I meet alone with God. Even when asked to pray aloud, all around disappear from conscious view as I enter my place with God. It cannot be stolen from me, nor closed off to me by any created being. It is my personal, secret hiding place with God my Father and King.
It doesn’t matter who hears, for I’m not aware of their hearing, nor am I concerned for their opinion. We see this in Jesus, who was heard crying out His Garden prayer, and from whom we have the prayer of John 17 to read and agree with.
In praying, my only concern should be to seek God’s face and touch the hem of His garment for the need at hand. And those who hear are drawn into their inner room through prayers of agreement, even adding to my prayer through their inner thoughts.
People learn how to give and how to pray, and how to walk the righteousness of God in Christ out into the world, by the examples they hear and see. May we be found faithful in the humble practice of our righteousness.