June 2, 2020
THE GEORGIA CAPITOL DEVOTIONAL - 2 June 2020
One of the principles of Christian maturity is called the “put off” and “put on” principles (cf. Eph 4:22-24). The idea is that there are always sinful actions and attitudes we need to “put off” and there are always positive qualities of righteousness we need to “put on” more decisively. Jesus referred to this principle in Matthew 6 where the words “do not” (or equivalent expressions) occur ten times.
Jesus’ words emphasize the “put off” dynamic, yet He did not merely state the “do nots.” He also addressed the proper actions and attitudes to “put on.” Matthew 6 begins with a word of warning: “Beware” (which declares the danger in the spiritual practices that Jesus warned not to practice). In Matthew 6, these practices can be generally divided into two categories: the promotion of one’s reputation (vv. 1-18) and the protection of one’s financial future (vv. 19-34).
In the first category, Jesus warned against pretentious giving, praying, and fasting. Jesus essentially warned against any spiritual practice that is done with the goal of gaining recognition from others. The specific practices that Jesus wants his people to shun may seem bizarre: things like sounding a trumpet when giving or praying loudly on the street corner, or altering one’s facial disposition when fasting. Today, people are subtler in expressing the desire to be admired by others for their spirituality. A person may genuinely want to glorify God in all he or she does, yet also want to be admired in the process. People crave approval and recognition from others. However, when a person secretly seeks to be admired by others, he or she is, in principle, no different than the hypocrites that Jesus described, who promote their own religious reputation.
In terms of spiritual practices, even self-admiration is wrong. Jesus expressed this truth figuratively by saying that in giving “do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,” which means not keeping account in such a manner that would cultivate pride. Give with an attitude of thanksgiving for being able to do so rather than being proud by how much is offered. A thankful attitude should be present in every aspect of the Christian life because a believer cannot accomplish anything of eternal significance without be enabled by the power of the Holy Spirit and having Him bless one’s efforts in an effective manner.
If pride and self-promotion is “put off,” what does one “put on”? The answer is the desire to please God and promote his glory, which is why Jesus emphasized “your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” God rewards those who please Him! Therefore, one’s ambition should not be to gain a reward because that is self-serving; rather, a person’s objective should be to please God who rewards by his grace.
In the second section of Matthew 6, Jesus continued to apply the “put off” and “put on” principle. He did so by warning against a preoccupation with money or future necessities (i.e. “put off” that attitude). Jesus prioritized accumulating “treasures in heaven” and trusting the heavenly Father for daily needs (i.e. “put on” those attitudes). Jesus said to “put off” the tendency to store “treasures on earth” and instead to accumulate “treasures in heaven” through generous giving. Jesus did not condemn sensible forethought. He did denounce the undue accumulation of what is unnecessary.
For those people who are not accumulating wealth or spending lavishly on themselves but instead struggling for daily needs, the “put off” and “put on” principle still applies. They are to “put off” being anxious and “put on” dependence on God’s care. Jesus said, if God feeds the birds and clothes the lilies of the field, which He does, then how much more will He feed and clothe his children.
What is the lesson? Seek first God’s kingdom and his righteousness, and trust the Lord’s promise to provide for necessities. The attitude of seeking first God’s interests means “putting off” preoccupation with the temporal and “putting on” a preoccupation with the glory and will of God. When you and I do that, we will experience the heavenly reward of which Jesus promised.
Ron J. Bigalke, Ph.D.
Capitol Commission Georgia
Capitol Commission is prepared to encourage and enable local churches to participate in reaching our capitol communities for Christ (1 Tim 2:1-4). We only need to hear from you, if you have not already contacted us. We also seek to enlist individuals, businesses, and churches to become strategic partners with us in this ministry (2 Cor 8:3-6). Our success as a ministry is based upon God blessing all facets of the ministry, which certainly includes partners in this ministry. We earnestly desire to engage those who desire to participate in the ministry by offering their time and talents (Matt 25:20). If you have not already done so, join us and experience the joy of bringing hope, light, transformation, and truth to those who constitute our capitol communities.
*Our ministry funds are being greatly impacted by the COVID-19 virus. If you have the ability and should God lead, please consider a donation to the ministry. You can use standard mail (Capitol Commission, P.O. Box 244, Rincon, GA 31326-0244); or, you can give electronically: under the "Fund," click "Active State Ministry," then under "Sub Fund" click "Georgia – Ron Bigalke" and designate the amount you wish to invest. Your gift is much needed and will be greatly appreciated. Thank you to those who have already helped! We greatly appreciate your investment in this vital ministry!!