Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
This always echos in my mind when I read over so many facebook and twitter updates. Many Christians make it their aim to practice their righteousness in order to be seen. As you read this I hope you feel the conviction to stop or the caution to steer clear. Now, verse 2 makes it very clear that what Jesus is saying is applicable to what many of us do in the public arena of the social web today.
Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.
Jesus warns us like this in three different ways: when we give to the needy, pray, and fast. I'm sure you may want to object at this point and say, "How does anyone do this on facebook or twitter?" Well, it is actually quite common and very easy to fall into. Someone makes sure to mention how they are using their Saturday to give to charity (give to the needy). Someone makes sure to mention how early they have to get up for a prayer service that only a few people attend (prayer). Someone rails against a certain food or form of entertainment because they abstain (fast). Reading over these I'm sure you can think of a time you or people you know have done this. Now, this became more urgent to me when I read Psalm 5.
The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers.
David makes it very clear that what Jesus is talking about is not just something we do horizontally to those around us, but it is something vertical toward God as well. But what does it mean, "shall not stand before your eyes"? What it means is that when you are boastful you align yourself with the evildoers that God hates, which is exactly what Jesus says in Matthew 6. He says over and over, "Do not be like the hypocrites". So you are not just turning toward man to boast, you are removing yourself from the presence of God and standing in the way of sinners (Psalm 1:1). This is why Jesus repeated this warning three times and in three different ways. Reading over this has helped and convicted me, I hope it helps you as well.