Twice in the 'Sermon on the Mount' (Matthew 5,6,7) Jesus said, "Beware". Once, He said it in reference to false prophets (Mt. 7:15) and second He said it in reference to the reason we practice our religion (Mt.6:1). In this second case Jesus talks about the giving of alms, praying and fasting. Certainly there is nothing wrong with any of these things when they are done for the right reason. But Jesus warns us that often these things and things like them are done for the wrong reason. It is a temptation and often a weakness that afflicts us that we seek, even in the practice of our religion, to be seen and honored by men. If we are going to build on the rock (Mt.7:24-27) we must build for the right reason.
Some build houses so that all will who pass by will take note. It must be grander and more magnificent than all other houses in the area. Religion practiced for the same reason does nothing for the soul. It does nothing for establishing a close relationship to our God. It provides no real strength for the trials and temptations we will face in this life. A life so lived ends up being like the house built on the sand.
Jesus was concerned that His disciples would fall prey to the same deception that afflicted the religious leaders of His time. When you give, pray and fast or attend services, or read your Bible, or extend a helping hand, do not be concerned with the approval and the praise of men. Seek instead the approval of God. In this matter the heart must be pure. It must not be divided. Jesus says if we desire the approval of men in these things, that we may indeed gain it, but He boldly says, that's it , there is no reward from God. No wonder He says "beware" of this type of thing. It's dangerous and He knows us so well.
When true faith enters the heart it will be practiced even when there is no one else around to see it. It will be evident not only in church buildings, but also at home, at work, at school and on vacations. If the purpose in worship and service is wrong it can lead to the corruption of even holy things. No wonder Jesus said, "beware".
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