“Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding.” (Matthew 6:1 -The Message Bible)
“It is possible for a man to be self-centered in his self-denial and self-righteous in his self-sacrifice,” preached Martin Luther King. “He may be generous in order to feed his ego and pious in order to feed his pride. Man has the tragic capacity to relegate a heightening virtue to a tragic vice. Without love, benevolence becomes egotism, and martyrdom becomes spiritual pride.”
Some hunger for the righteousness that promises earthly rewards and some heavenly, but the better reward––whether in the hereafter or the here and now––is to live the best version of ourselves while enjoying intimacy with the Rewarder himself. The most exquisite rewards are those that come from living so near him that you hear his whisper in your ear and feel his heart beating inside your chest.
This is an excerpt from my upcoming book on the Sermon on the Mount called: What In The World? Some Moral, Social, and Politically Disruptive Implications of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.