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Beware of Religious showmanship

Rev Enoch Thompson | FEBRUARY 9, 2023 | MATTHEW 6:1-8


"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. Matthew 6:5 (NIV)


How we love to see ourselves and love to be seen by others, as doing the right religious things. What if we could get the whole community or the entire church to “like” our prayers, fasting and giving, and to “share” the same till it’s all viral? Righteous acts and acting, “to be seen by people” in order “to be honoured by people.” This was the major problem that the Lord Jesus Christ had with the champions of Jewish religion, the Pharisees. They were strict on fulfilling the religious ceremonies in the Law of Moses, with a desire that people saw them and were impressed with their religious showmanship.

The Pharisees went through physical motions of worship while their hearts were far removed from God. Their audience in worship was the human beings around them, and sometimes with an intention to gain an advantage over their observers and to benefit materially from them. The Lord confronts them in Matthew 23.

For Kingdom citizens, however, the Lord sets a new standard which must guide His followers. The performance of our religious duties must be carried out with one audience, God, in mind. Those who seek the applause of humans receive their empty rewards once they had been seen by humans. They can expect no rewards from God, the One who matters above all else in the assessment and rewarding of our spirituality and religious practices.

True Christian spirituality does not manifest in a public show of lengthy prayers since God our Father already knows what we need, and He is willing to hear us if we approach Him in the secret place of prayer. There may be times when the situation demands that we do some religious duties openly, publicly, and emotionally; "During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.” (Heb 5:7) NIV. Take note of the fact that when the Lord was loud and emotional in His prayers, He was heard because of the right relationship He had with the Father. Showmanship does not produce divine response.


Do you have a place of intimate quiet relationship with God? It is also important to develop the ability to retreat within oneself, even when in public or in the company of other people. Try to steal away to God as often as you can. Make up your mind that God will be the One that you focus on in all that you do as your religious expression.


Lord, save me from religious showmanship, in all my religious practices. Lord deliver the church from unspiritual performances that seek the approval and ratings of humans and guide us to the development of God as our one audience. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.



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