patty kirk

patty kirk lying down, getting up, sitting at home, walking down the road doing deuteronomy 6:7

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

down in the basement

Having established that we’re to practice righteousness—which, as I say, I prefer to understand as practice in the sense of practicing the banjo, with the view that, even though we stink at it, we should keep on plugging away at getting little by little better—Jesus spends a sizeable chunk of his sermon exhorting us not to practice our righteousness in front of others in order to be honored by them. Instead, we should practice in private, keeping our holy efforts secret—even, ideally, from ourselves.

For each example he gives of the show-offy righteousness we should avoid—ostentatiously giving to the needy, praying in church, or fasting—Jesus repeats the same line: “Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full” (Matthew 6:2,5, 16 NIV).

There used to be this guy at my church who, whenever someone was lauded by the pastor or anyone else for godly behavior, would comment, archly, “Well, he got his reward.”

(Can’t figure out a way to be gender-inclusive here, but it’s probably not really necessary, as the ones I remember being lauded and commented upon were the men who led us in prayer and handed out Bibles at the Hurricane Katrina refugee camps, not the women down in the basement teaching and cleaning up after everyone else’s kids every Day of Rest.)

Anyway, that guy used to crack me up.


  1. Here is something to consider: So I act with purity of heart (no laughing!) and God stores rewards for me in heaven. Later, I tell someone about it and they tell me that I did a good thing. Did I just lose the heavenly reward?

  2. Um, no offense, but I think you may be going at this a bit like heaven's a big Walmart.

    I think the key is just practice. Little by little. Without making a big show of it. Just little attempts to figure out how to improve. With, in other words, a sincere desire to get gooder, more God-like. I think God will totally respect the effort, even if you get so excited about yourself every now and again and go out and tell somebody.

    Even if you out and out brag about it, in your enthusiasm.

    Even if you brag about how wonderful you are and also neglect to give God any credit.

    I mean, I think we should just give it a try. To be perfect. We will fail in so many ways. Showing off is just one of them.

  3. If there is a heavenly reward for me at Walmart then I have been shopping on the wrong aisles ;-( No wonder people spend so much time there.

    I sure hope that God respects my failed attempts because that is all I come to him with.