Summary: As Christ-followers, we should only be concerned about pleasing an audience of One.
(adapted from Southeast Christian Church’s series: “Living a Life of Integrity”)
SERIES: “WORDS OF WISDOM FOR KINGDOM LIVING”
TEXT: MATTHEW 6:1-4
TITLE: “COVET GOD’S APPROVAL”
INTRODUCTION: A. I read about a person who went to a concert at a beautiful old art-deco theatre. At
the end of the concert, this person noticed two ushers standing near his seat who were
applauding harder than anybody else in the whole place.
The man said that he was thrilled with this particular concert because of the talent
and virtuosity of the musicians. It thrilled him even more to see these two ushers
standing there applauding more vigorously than all of the concert goers. His
experience was somewhat diminished when he heard one usher say to the other,
“Keep clapping. If we can get them to do another encore, we get overtime!”
1. It appeared that these two ushers were serious music lovers
2. It turned out they were only applauding so long and so hard because it would mean
a few more dollars in their pockets.
3. There are people who do good things for the wrong reasons
--It might seem at the outset that they’re trying to do what is right but it ends up that
they only do it for their own benefit.
B. The title of this morning’s message is: “COVET GOD’S APPROVAL”
1. The word “covet” is not used much anymore
a. “Covet” was a term that became associated with evil intent
b. However, in the original languages of the Bible, the Hebrew and Greek terms
that generally get translated “to covet” were neutral
--The rightness or wrong-ness of the action involved in coveting is dependent
on the motivation behind the coveting
2. The word “covet” simply means “a deep and passionate desire”
--what we covet is what we deeply desire; the root motivations of our hearts
C. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus encouraged His disciples to play to an audience of
One - to covet only the approval of the Heavenly Father.
1. He urged them not to be people pleasers seeking to impress others, because a few
will cheer and a few will jeer.
2. If you get your self-worth from the approval of people, you’re mood is going to be
frequently depressed and your performance often erratic.
3. But God is faithful.
a. He is always rooting for you.
b. He wants the best for you and, in the end, it’s only His favor that matters.
4. This is a passage that speaks to those of us who are tempted to be people-pleasers.
--Some of us have such a ravenous hunger for praise that you go to almost
any length to get it.
a. You have a hard time saying “no” to anyone, you want so much to be liked that
it’s almost impossible to overcome peer pressure.
b. You’re always wondering what people will say, what people will think, how
people will respond.
c. When people approve you, you’re up, when someone is upset with you you’re
d. Your whole life is viewed as a stage performance seeking the applause and
avoiding the disapproval of the crowd.
e. Even when it comes to spiritual service, instead of seeking God’s approval, you’re
most concerned about what people think.
--Would you pay attention today as we study Jesus’ words from the Sermon on
the Mount that encourage us to seek only God’s approval?
I. JESUS GIVES A WARNING AGAINST SELF-PROMOTION
--Matthew 6:1 – “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do,
you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.”
A. We all instinctively want to be liked.
1. From the time we’re born we want approval and attention.
a. Little children unashamedly say, “Watch me, Daddy!” “Look at me, Mommy!”
b. Teenagers want more than anything to be popular.
1). They are careful to dress, talk, and act in whatever fashion is acceptable among their peers.
2). Even nonconformity is a way of drawing attention to self.
--Body piercing, tattoos, green hair, and black lipstick are means of saying, “Look at me!”
c. As adults we worry, “What will the neighbors say if we don’t mow our grass?”
2. We care what people think of us and that’s not altogether bad.
a. The Bible says we ought to be sensitive to our witness to others.
b. The problem with people-pleasers is they become overly concerned with what other people think.
B. Jesus’ warning in this passage is not about doing evil but about doing good just to impress people.
1. On the surface this seems to contradict what Jesus said in Mt. 5:16 – “… let your light shine
before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”