Today’s text: Matthew 6:1-6
For growth in spiritual discipline
For those in the theater and similar arts
“Do not be like the hypocrites…”
Long before it got its negative connotations, the word hypocrite was more of a technical term used in Greek theater. In the ancient world, actors would stride the stage wearing elaborate masks designed to 1) signal to the audience who the actor was portraying and give a sign by its design whether the character was happy, sad, or such; and 2) amplify the actors’ voices like a megaphone so that they might be more easily heard in open-air amphitheaters.
So, Jesus is teaching his disciples not to put on masks, not to play act, and not to trumpet what they are about. Most of all, he is teaching that people out in the world are not the audience! It is God—who sees in secret—who is the true viewer, and he watches us as we stride across life’s stage. No mask will hide the disciple’s true intent from God, and no action by the disciple can leave others standing by as passive observers. Ministry always involves both the doer and the recipient, or as Luther might put it, the minister and the neighbor. We act for the good of the neighbor, whether it is prayer, the giving of alms, fasting or any other spiritual discipline. Even when we seek for ourselves, it is not for ourselves alone—it is always that blessing may flow to others.
Easter Joy ~ Pr. Dave Brooks