Summary: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18 Keeping up Appearances (Heavenly Mrs Bucket)
Keeping up Appearances
(Heavenly Mrs Bucket)
In the 1990s there was a TV show from Britain called “Keeping Up Appearances.” Who remembers it? The reruns are still showing if you haven’t seen it and want to. The series is about a lady called Hyacinth Bucket, who’s whole purpose in life seems to be to impress everyone else how posh she is. She is always out to impress those people from the upper echelons of society, and shuns those who she thinks are beneath her. She is a snob – attempting to convince everyone that she is from high society, but the reality is far different. She lives in a pretty ordinary house in a pretty ordinary suburb somewhere in England. Her husband does some boring job at the local council. Her sister and brother-in-law definitely are not part of high society. But Hyacinth always covers up the bad and ordinary, and tries to convey the impression that she is from the upper class. Her surname is Bucket – but she pronounces it “Bouquet,” and she answers her phone, "The Bouquet residence, the lady of the house speaking!" Her neighbours, who Hyacinth is always trying to impress, live in constant fear of being invited to one of Hyacinth’s candlelight suppers. Hyacinth Bucket – I should say, Bouquet, lives in delusion. She lives her life constantly keeping up appearances. Trying to look good to everyone else, when the reality is often far different.
Today in our passage of Scripture, Jesus has a go at those who do a similar thing in their spiritual lives. People whose real righteousness is not that great, but try to keep up spiritual appearances by doing spiritual looking things so that other people will think they are pretty good. And in our passage Jesus looks at three aspects of spirituality, which are good things in and of themsleves. They are: giving to the needy, prayer, and fasting. And each time Jesus has much the same thing to say about them, which is summed up in Mt. 6.1:
Hmmm this is interesting, because we’ve just finished chapter 5. There was a lot in chapter 5, so much that it took us 8 sermons to get through it! And basically in chapter 5, Jesus has been telling us how we ought to live - how we ought to practice our righteousness. For example:
So in Mt 6.1 Jesus is not telling us not to practice our righteousness. Now what Jesus is now telling us, is who we should be practising our righteousness for, and who we shouldn’t.
Jesus wants to warn us against doing righteous looking things in front of other people in order to impress them. And in Jesus’ day there were lots of people who did that. Rmember in Matthew 5 (quickview) .20 Jesus told us that our righteousness needed to exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees. Now the Scribes and the Pharisees were the spiritual Hyacinth Buckets [pronounced: “bouquet”] of the day. They wanted everyone else to know how righteous they were. How holy, how good, how close to God they were. They did this because they wanted others to think they were pretty good. They were only concerned with how they looked to others, so they concentrated on the externals, not the internals, and in chapter 5 we’ve seen how Jesus is not just interested in the externals as He is with what goes on inside.