Posted in theology

Piety for piety’s sake, and not ‘unto the LORD’

By Elizabeth Prata

We all do things for show, hoping someone will see and notice us doing it. It’s the pride in us that wants to be seen and applauded. But Jesus said when giving or praying or fasting, and by extension any service unto the Lord, render it privately. Don’t let your left hand know what your right is doing.

The Pharisees either hadn’t gotten the message or ignored it, because they were prime example #1 of what not to do when giving service to the Lord. The poor, pitiful tax collector knew, he was a sinful individual and he humbled himself before the Lord in prayer.

“I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other one; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:14)

Jesus knows the heart. He knows what’s in a man. He knows what our motivations are. He isn’t fooled by superficial ploys, fake demonstrations of service, or lip service devoid of true love for God.

That is always the question of the day. When we read our Bible (DO we read our Bible?) when we pray, when we go to church, when we give, when we serve in the homeless kitchen…do we do it out of an abundance of love for the Lord? Because we’re grateful to Him atoning for our sin?

I know we can get into a rut, just going through the motions. I know not every week/month/year we sustain the same level of commitment to the Lord, as our lives go up and down through difficulties, tragedies, or hard times. But overall, when we serve Him, do we do it mindfully, joyfully, gratefully? Or do we do it for ourselves, to satisfy a prideful drive? God asked that question through the Prophet Zechariah:

Then the word of the LORD of armies came to me, saying, “Say to all the people of the land and to the priests, ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months these seventy years, was it actually for Me that you fasted?” (Zechariah 7:4-5).

The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary explains: did ye … fast unto me?—No; it was to gratify yourselves in hypocritical will-worship. If it had been "unto Me," ye would have "separated yourselves" not only from food, but from your sins (Isa 58:3-7). They falsely made the fast an end intrinsically meritorious in itself, not a means towards God's glory in their sanctification. 

The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Everything we do needs to glorify Him.

Ephesians 6:5-7 says, Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. With goodwill render service, as to the Lord, and not to people,

Everything we do, whether for our earthly ‘masters’ (bosses/parents/Board) or directly for God, we should do it with sincerity of heart. And when offering service, Jesus knows the difference between a heart that is far from Him, and a heart full of love and sincerity.

Milada Vigerova from unsplash

Nothing in my hands I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress,
Helpless, look to Thee for grace:
Foul, I to the fountain fly,
Wash me, Savior, or I die.


Christian writer and Georgia teacher's aide who loves Jesus, a quiet life, art, beauty, and children.